“We believe in the principle of inclusivity. We put this principle above others. We have given up medals and trophies in many local and international races to uphold this principle.” This, in not so many words, sets Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team apart from other dragon boat racing teams, according to Nick Fontanilla.
“It has also been our mission to help qualified and deserving athletes who have a heart, strength, and a competitive spirit and the desire to inspire others to pursue the same dream of being a part of a really competitive team. To be on top, and stay on top.”
Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team actually started when majority of the competing women’s crew from a former team re-branded themselves into Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team. Under the old banner, the team held top three placers in Dragonboat Championships for more than three years, ruling both the local and international race courses as the champion in the 2008 Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) Annual Championship, champions in the 2007 SAVA Sprints International Dragonboat Championship in Singapore, and Taipei Dragonboat Championship Festival for three years (2007 to 2009) for the international races.
However, although Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team started with only a two-men crew when it was incorporated in July 2009, it eventually grew starting sometime in November of that same year, so that it eventually formed its own formidable men’s crew. The team is now affiliated with the PDBF, “and our paddlers are an electric mix of people from all walks of life.”
Despite the growth, though, Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team remains to be a “club committed to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, foster team unity, and instill discipline and sportsmanship through the sport of dragonboat racing,” Fontanilla stressed.
So far, Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team has been the champion in the PDBF Quarterly Leg and Annual Championships in Women’s Category for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, while its mixed crew consistently places in the top three, just as its men’s crew also competes for the top five posts.
“We aim to combine a sense of enjoyment and competitiveness in the races we participate in, both local and international,” Fontanilla said. “As we paddle hard, we party harder.”
Fontanilla admitted that there remain challenges. For instance, “the main challenge is membership growth, (particularly in) promoting dragon boat to sports enthusiasts, the youth (college students), physically challenged individuals, and to organizations whose aim is to promote unity.” Another challenge “is supporting our athletes who spend most of their time keeping themselves in shape for international competition.” Yet another challenge is competitiveness, as Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team also aims to stay on top.
For uniforms, for instance, “if there is a sponsor, singlets for races are given free to paddlers. Otherwise, the group buys the race uniform for P100 to P250. Fee for races vary. For races in Manila, registration fee is P100; for races outside manila, it could be up to P1,000. Meanwhile, for international races, it varies,” Fontanilla said.
As it eyes to further grow, Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team now plans to “organize three additional teams within the club: youth (23 years old and under), seniors team (40 years old and above), and physically challenged individuals.”
But while “representing the Philippines in international competition where and whenever needed” is also eyed, Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team also aims to be socially relevant by “continuing to be involved in cleaning up Manila Bay,” Fontanilla said.
And with that, joining the sport becomes an act of becoming healthy on a personal level, while staying socially relevant somehow, too.
To join Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team, one needs to fill up the mandatory forms, pay a one-time fee of P250 per person, pay the monthly dues of P300, and attend practice/training. The group has regular training days on Wednesdays and Fridays (starting at 5:00 AM) during weekdays, and on Saturdays and Sundays (starting at 7:30 AM) during weekends. There is a general membership meeting at least once a year, just as there are other activities during special occasions.
For more information on Triton Dragon Boat Racing Team, visit the group’s Facebook page; SMS/call (+63) 9178921918, 9285202256 or 9228365118; or email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.