Sarawak Regatta to allow tourist participation


SPONSORS: Ik Pahon (second left) shakes hands with F&N Beverages Marketing Sdn Bhd Sarawak deputy region manager Kueh Thian Hee following the presentation of sponsorship from 100 Plus. Also in the photo are William (left) and Abdul Rahman (third left).

KUCHING: Tourists will be rowing together with local paddlers in this year’s Sarawak Regatta along Sungai Sarawak, as this 150-year-old event becomes more tourist-oriented with the inclusion of new categories and the sales of corporate seats.

Permanent Secretary to Tourism Ministry, Datu Ik Pahon Joyik said tourists can now participate by paying minimal fees and race in either Perahu Kenyalang or Perahu Tambang categories.

He pointed out that for the Perahu Kenyalang, there will be 20 persons per boat comprising 15 tourists, four locals and one flag bearer, and they will vie for the Minister of Tourism Sarawak Challenge Trophy.

As for the Perahu Tambang, he said each boat will have seven paddlers comprising six tourists and one local and the Minister of Tourism Malaysia Challenge Trophy is up for grabs, and there is also a special prize for best decorated Tambang for the tourist players.

“This time, the Ministry of Tourism gets involved in the organising of this Regatta to try transform the annual community event into a tourism product by engaging tourist players to participate.

“The tourists only come and see previously, but now we want to sell the experience of the Sarawak Regatta to them. The prizes include the challenge trophy and attractive hotel vouchers,” he told a press conference yesterday to announce the plans for this year’s Sarawak Regatta.

The Sarawak Regatta will be held from Sept 14 to 16, offering increased prize money from RM166,000 last year to RM180,000 and longer route from 1.8km previously to 2km.

Ik Pahon also announced there will be 240 corporate seats, which will allow visitors to watch the regatta in comfort at the Kuching Waterfront.

“Previously, there were VIP seats, which were only for VIPs. Now, we have the corporate seats where there will be LED TV for visitors and refreshments will be served,” he said.

He, however, did not disclose the pricing details for the corporate seats, stressing this would be announced soon. There are altogether 15 categories to be contested including the two categories for tourists.

The main category is the Perahu Bidar 30 paddlers (men) where the winners will be crowned Raja Sungai (Kings of the River).

The other categories include The Perahu Bidar 30 paddlers for hotels and tour agencies, VIP, Perahu Kenyalang 20 paddlers for inter-varsity and international open, Perahu Bidar 20 paddlers for inter-division, government and corporate agencies, and men’s open.

There are also Perahu Bidar 15 paddlers mixed (men and women) and men, and Perahu Balok 10 paddlers for women, Perahu Kenyalang seven paddlers for BIMP EAGA and Sosek Malindo categories and Perahu Balok seven paddlers for men.

On a related matter, Ik Pahon conceded the entrance fees are higher this year but he reasoned this was justified by the bigger cash prizes. “From the feedback we get, the winners prefer more cash for training purposes and maintenance of boats, other than winning trophies for display,” he said.

He also mentioned the organising committee is still looking for more sponsors for the event, and he disclosed that 10 potential sponsors have already been listed down.

Sarawak Rivers Board controller William Jinep said the entry forms can be obtained at the SRB’s office, first and second floor of Electra House here starting Aug 1.

Entries must be submitted before noon on Aug 30. The draw for the race and briefing for team managers will be on Sept 7, tentatively at Yayasan Sarawak.

Also present at the press conference was Kuching Resident Abdul Rahman Sebli Senusi.