KUCHING: Thousands are expected to converge on the Kuching Waterfront today to witness one of the state’s oldest sporting events, the Sarawak Regatta, which first started in 1872 during the Brooke rule.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem will declare open the event which carries the theme ‘Race for Harmony’ before noon.
Yesterday, around 800 paddlers entered the heat for 16 categories of the race being contested to determine their position for the finals on Sunday.
Among the categories are: Balok seven-paddler (men, local), Bidar 20-paddler (men, international), Bidar 10-paddler (men, local), Bidar 30-paddler (men, international) and the Mix International Kenyalang (15 men and five women).
Also to be held from 3.15pm Sunday will be the finals of the Bidar 30-paddler (men, international) category. The winner will be crowned Raja Sungai (River King), which is the climax of the Sarawak Regatta.
Meanwhile, the whole 1.3km stretch of the Kuching Waterfront has been bustling since a week ago with the launch of the handicraft bazaar and the two-day International Dragon Boat race over the weekend.
With lots of activities and attractions in place, locals and tourists alike are seen strolling and immersing themselves in this unique Sarawakian event.
Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is expected to officiate at the closing ceremony.
Meanwhile, Kuching Resident Shukarmin Chasemon, told reporters on Thursday, that response to the boat race was very overwhelming.
Apart from local Malaysians, participants from Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and United Kingdom are also competing in this year’s regatta.
He said prize money totalling RM240,000 were up for grabs with RM10,000 going to the River King (Raja Sungai) the winner of the Bidar 30-paddler (men, international) category.
Apart from the regatta, food and handicraft bazaars there are also other activities slotted for the event.
A popular Indonesian dangdut singer, Sherly May, will perform during the ‘Gegar Regatta Concert’ together with renowned local Malaysian singers.
Sherly is famous for her hit songs such as ‘Kecanduan Cinta’, ‘Konspirasi Cinta’, ‘Pelihara Cinta’, ‘Bintang Kehidupan’ and ‘Pacarku’, to name a few.
Shukarmin said the regatta this year had managed to collect sponsorship to the tune of of RM1,136,000.