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(Michael Cooper / American Press)

(Michael Cooper / American Press)

A taste of the Orient lands in Lake Area

Last Modified: Monday, April 29, 2013 10:56 AM

By Jordan Gribble / American Press

Fourteen local businesses and industries formed teams to compete in the Christus-St. Patrick Foundation’s inaugural Dragon Boat Races Saturday.

The races, an ancient Chinese tradition, were held at the seawall and benefited the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

“Dragon boating is China’s national sport, one that’s over 2,000 years old and was brought to North America about 30 years ago, since then it's spread like wildfire,” said Matt Roberts, co-owner of 22 Dragons, which supplied the boats and team training for the event. “Basically you’ve got a team of 22 people, with 20 of them being paddlers, one person who steers the boat and a drummer who is there to motivate the team and keep their timing together. The rowers paddle to the beat of the drum.”

“We thought that Lake Charles would be a perfect venue for this event, with the beautiful lakefront, wonderful park and very civic minded attitude of the community,” said Christus-St. Patrick Hospital Administrator Donald Lloyd. “This is one of our major fundraisers for our pediatric initiatives and we are just super delighted with the turnout. We filled up all of the available boats and still had teams trying to get in. This is the first time we’ve held this event, but it certainly will not be the last.”

The 14 competing teams included local businesses and industries such as Citgo, Coushatta, Entergy and Kohl’s, many of which viewed the day as a valuable team-building exercise.

“This is a great team-building opportunity for these businesses to get different people from different parts of their organizations who may not know each other or work directly with one another all of the time, working together. Everyone here has the same goal, getting across the finish line first,” said Chuck O’Connor, annual events manager for the Christus-St. Patrick Foundation.

A representative from team Citgo said the squad was determined to go home with the race’s first-place traveling trophy.

“We put our team together two months ago, we did a tryout and selected the 25 strongest people and then started paddling practice pool, we just started getting in sync and dictating the paddler’s rhythm,” said Rodrigo Cardoso, a process engineer for Citgo.

The team in the event’s first qualifying round of, known as a heat, had scored a time of 55.6 seconds for the 200-meter course.

“It’s just like a drag race, you’ve just got to get from point to another. The hardest thing is keeping the balance and keeping the 20 paddlers moving their oars in the same direction at the same time, when they get out of sync the boat starts moving towards one side or another,” Cardoso said.

The team for National Networks began practicing the night before the race but was hopeful that they would place first.

“In the first qualifying rounds, we were three seconds behind the top team. We’re going to beat them, we’ll put a hole in their boat if we have to,” David Poole, employee of National Networks said.

In the finals, the Citgo team beat out National Networks for the top prize. L'Auberge placed third, edging out one of the Christus-St. Patrick teams, the Holy Rowers, in the third-place race.

Posted By: not impressed with your high school photographer On: 4/28/2013

Title: really?

Can't find a picture that is STRAIGHT??!!! Why in the world would you run a news story with a COMPLETELY CROOKED PICTURE??!!!

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