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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Nov 3: Longboat team ‘Landas’ representing the Sarawak Land and Survey Department claimed the coveted ‘Raja Sungai’ title at the Sarawak Regatta 2019.
They emerged champion in the main Bidar 30-men paddlers finals event. For their efforts, they pocketed RM10,000 and the ‘Head of State’ trophy.
Second place went to team Udak 1 which took home RM8,000 and a trophy, while third place went to team Jang BS2 which received RM6,000 and a trophy.
The grand event features longboats carrying thirty paddlers each and is always a closely fought affair.
This year, the Bidar 30-men finals which flagged off at 4.25pm had to halt after 200m as the boats were too close until they hit each other. No injuries were reported.
Sirens were sounded seconds after the boats passed the 200m mark, and all of them were told to stop before making a U-turn back to the starting point.
The race restarted at 4.40pm.
Meanwhile, locals, tourists, and villagers from surrounding areas at Kuching Waterfront thronged the event, making it a grand affair to watch and support not only the event but also the paddlers.
Guest-of-honour Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud together with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg presented the prizes to the various winners.
The significance of regattas in Sarawak dates back to 1872 during the James Brooke era where its main intention was to stop wars among local tribes and headhunting that came with it.
James, who was the Rajah then, instructed all tribes to instead challenge each other through boat races to prove their power and strength.
The call to challenge each other through a boat race rather than headhunting was successful in bringing peace to the area. — DayakDaily