MILAN — Filipino paddlers found the competition boats to their liking after a practice session on Tuesday, raising hope for a medal finish in this year’s World Dragon Boat Championships at the Indroscalo water sports club.
Danny Funelas, the country’s best kayak rider who was included in the team to enhance stroke speed, was like a kid in a candy store in describing the boat made of carbon kevlar, a material similar to that used in manufacturing helmets of soldiers.
“Sobrang gaan ng bangka kaya parang gusto nga namin na karera na agad,” said Funelas who was also amused that their water line was nearly a foot lower than when the team trained in the floodway in Taytay, Rizal, and at the Manila Bay.
Head coach Len Escollante confirmed that such material is of the highest quality and could cost 11,000 euros as against the US$5,500 types of fiber glass boat now used by Asian dragon boat teams.
“Malaki talaga ang difference kasi with the carbon kevlar, kahit malalaki ang sumasakay hindi masyadong lumulubog ang bangka unlike with other materials na mataas ang water line,” she explained.
“This is good for us because of our speed stroke rate in the sprints."
With the massive display of support by the various Filipino organizations pooled together by the Philippine Consulate led by Consul General Lourdes Tabamo, the squad will enter Wednesday’s (Thursday, Manila time) elimination phase in three events with a very high morale.
The men’s team will get first crack seeking an outright seat to the final of the 10-man crew (small boat) 500-meter race slated at 10: 20 a.m. on Wednesday.
One hour later, they will team up with the women crew for the full boat (20-man) race covering the same distance in the mixed category and then back to the small boat at 12:20 also for 500 meters in mixed class. Teams that do not qualify outright in the two elimination phases go through a repechage for the last slot in the six-team final.
The final of all three events will be held the following day, Thursday starting at 2 p.m.