It was a case of dotting the eyes and crossing the Marina when Preston paddlers took delivery of their first brand new dragon boat.
The sleek new craft was officially called Spirit of Preston in a special naming ceremony attended by Mayor Coun Brian Rollo at the city’s docklands. And in an ancient Chinese ritual, the boat’s dragon figurehead had its eyes dottted by Feixia Yu, director of the Confucius Insitute at the University of Central Lancashire (pictured below).
The new boat has been donated by UCLan to the Preston Dragons racing team, which only began competing this year and has had a creditable debut season in national competition, using two patched up craft.
“We are ever so grateful to everyone at UCLan for their generosity and support,” said Sue Cameron of the Dragons. “These boats cost around £7,000 each and we’re now fundraising and saving up for a second one.
“We wanted the naming ceremony to be as authentic as possible. The tradition in China is to put the dots in the eyes, the dragon is then fed rice and they set fire to money.
“Out original boats were both gifts, but when we got them they were full of holes. We repaired them and they have been doing us proud this season. But this boat is absolutely wonderful.”
Feixia Yu added: “The Confucius Institute does a lot in the local community to share Chinese traditions, culture and language. Providing the city with its own world class dragon boat fits very much into this ethos.”