Those were the days

Many years ago Stanley (Chek Chue)was best known as a small fishing village to the south of Hong Kong Island. As many of the local Chinese relied on the sea for their livelihood it was only natural that Dragon Boat racing became a very popular way for them to celebrate the Tuen Ng Festival. Stanley has long been an important settlement and since the Qing Dynasty the east and the west mix here. (According to the 1841 govt gazette No. 2, Chek Chue was the capital of the Island, with a population of 2,000). In the late 60's the local races started to arouse the interest of several expats who were living in the Stanley area. In the early 70's the expats started to join in the racing against the local Chinese. In consideration of this, and in addition to the fact that the Chinese teams dominated the race, around 1975 the organizers separated the expats from the Chinese to compete in a new category. This was followed by the introduction of a Ladies Competition around the end of the 70's. Due to their body weight, it was mandatory for expat mens teams to compete with 2 rower fewer than normal, until the mid 90's the organzer standardised the number of rowers in all categories. The race was originally organized by local residents as such the Stanley Residents Assn. was established, with the Dragon Boat Race the principal project every year. Since the Race Day increases in popularity and becomes "international", more and more people of different nationalities living or working in Stanley join the organizing committee or act as officials. For many years the race has been run on a low-budget-positive-return principle, so most work is taken up by concerned parties voluntarily,
e.g. The Windsurfing Assn, Royal HK Yacht Club and ,
HK Telecom offers free rental of speed boats and communication equipments, The HK Sea School with the help of the Navy from HMS Tamar have laid the race course every year. Also the resident army regiment of Stanley Fort set up the shore facilities until 1994. Due to their withdrawal from Stanley -- we will miss this marvellous workforce. Till 1996, HMS Tamar each year anchor a guard ship near the start line to show their official presence.
The early races were held at Stanley Bay (outside the present pubs) for a long time. Due to the convenience of location, it created a strong community festival atmosphere. But considering the waves and inadequate public facilities of the venue, the race was moved to Stanley Main Beach. Never once have the races been cancelled due to bad weather even though race day is always held during the typhoon season. One year the race day was held between two number 8 signals!! Over the years, Race Day has been a great festival with plenty of competitors and spectators enjoying themselves in a wonderful party mood. Some special incidents need to be noted, like the team record for sinking the most often on race day is held by the navy from HMS Tamar. The most spectacular finish was in 1976 when the Grenadier Guards from Stanley Fort crossed the finishing line at full speed to be confronted by an old lady slowly rowing her sampan. The guards had nowhere to go and proceeded to hit the sampan amidships and cut it in half. It is generally believed that, compared with other districts' regattas in the territory, the Stanley event retains the earliest history of expat participation. Besides, it has always been the one with highest competitors turnout, highest company team turnout, and is most popular among expats. In 1996, we had a record total turnout of 130 teams.

Global contact through cyber space

Our official race home page (www.angelfire.com/on/dragonboat) was launched in March 1999 with great success. There was a hit rate exceeding 8 thousand in the first year alone. In the same year, RTHK included the live broadcast of the event in Radio 3 in her web-page; Then in year 2000 digital cameras are set up for on-line live global TV broadcast. These break new ground for the history of dragon-boating in the world. Hence people all over the globe can access the event in cyber space.

Serving the Community

The boats being used for racing were all purchased by the Stanley Residents Association. Revenue raised from the entry fees and donations are used to cover all the expenses of running the Regatta and ordering new boats with the surplus used to subsidize community services of Stanely.