SINGAPORE - People's Association (PA) Water-Venture's re-branded dual paddling competition in Singapore, PA PaddleFest 2014, saw over 4,000 participants gathering over a two-day period at Jurong Lake, making PA PaddleFest 2014 the biggest two-day paddling event ever in Singapore.
Back for the eighth edition, PA PaddleFest, formerly known as PA Paddles Championship, returned yesterday not only with a new name but also a greater emphasis on celebrating inclusiveness and promoting inter-generation and ethnicity bonding through water sports.
An annual highlight for dragon boat and kayaking enthusiasts, the event was re-branded to PA PaddleFest to highlight the festival and community components that will continue to be an integral element in future.
In line with the re-branding, there were also several new race categories that were innovatively created and introduced to allow for greater community participation. These categories include the Inter-Generation Race, Jurong Cluster Fun Race and the PAra-Venture Race which saw over 20 teams of families and friends registering to compete in the races and more importantly bond as a family.
The Inter-Generation Race is a race featuring inter-generation groups from families, friends or even strangers to come together and bond over dragon boating while the Jurong Cluster Fun Race was introduced to allow more residents residing in Jurong to participate.
Sharing his experience participating in the inaugural Inter-Generation Race, Mr LeCaine, 45, a Sales Manager, said "This is the first time my two sons and I, together with my close friends are competing together in a race and it really reminds us of the importance of working together and being together. Not only was it interesting to paddle with two of my sons, but being on the same boat with them and my friends brought back some really fond memories of those "good old days" when we used to row in Kallang Basin."
The inaugural PAra-Venture Race, a race created for the purpose of promoting an inclusive community, saw over five teams representing their various organisations to compete and raise awareness for their organisations.
Among the teams, the Special Olympics Singapore, a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing year-round sports training and athletic competitions for persons with intellectual disabilities, took this opportunity to send in a team of paddlers who will be competing in a dragon boat race for the first time.
"We are delighted to see that PA Water-Venture is expanding its efforts to create more opportunities to promote social inclusiveness," said Ms Maria Heng, Sports Development Officer, Special Olympics Singapore.
"Competitions and events such as this are a good platform for our athletes to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and build friendship with the community," added Ms Heng.
Mr Ang Hak Seng, BBM, Chief Executive Director of People's Association, said, "We find that bonds between residents grow closer and strengthens when they train together for the races. We will continue to innovate our programmes and promote and sustain inter-generational and inter-racial community bonding across generations and races on a sustained basis through our water sports interest groups and at high-point engagement events such as the PA PAddleFest. The non-competitive Kayak Sight and See activity will also allow residents to enjoy the scenic flora and fauna of the Lake with their friends and families in a fun and healthy way."
In a strong show of support towards the event's new direction, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, graced the event to flag off the inaugural Inter-Generation and PAra-Venture Race and also went around the event to meet with the participants and residents.
On top of the various race categories which saw over 150 teams of dragon boaters and kayakers competing over the two-day period, visitors to Jurong Lake were also given the opportunity to kayak down the lake and see the Chinese and Japanese garden from a different perspective with the public try-outs that were offered for free.
To ensure that there was plenty for the community to do and see, the event also featured several food and merchandise booths at the Carnival by the lake for the public to soak up the atmosphere in a fun and relaxing way.