Do you remember? At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the dragon boat was one of the transportations for the Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong, adding a refreshing and regional touch to the event. Origin and developmentThere are numerous versions about the origin of the dragon boat. The most widely adopted version is: it started from 278 BC, during a period known as the Warring States in Chinese history, to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Since then the dragon boat races have been held every year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. Despite being a festive activity for the Tuen Ng Festival, the dragon boat race was not considered as a sport activity until 1976. In that year the former Hong Kong Tourist Association held the first International Dragon Boat Invitational Competition at Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter. It brought international recognitions to the dragon boat race which eventually became a sports competition. As the dragon boat sport gained popularity around the globe, the International Dragon Boat Federation was formed in 1991 during the Hong Kong International Races. The Asian Dragon Boat Federation was formed in Beijing in the following year. The Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association (HKCDBA) and other local groups are dedicated to organising and promoting dragon boat activities in Hong Kong. Team workThe dragon boat sport requires team work. The drummer, paddlers and steersman have to cooperate to attain speed. • Drummer and paddlerStationing on the bow, a drummer is responsible for conducting the tempo of the paddlers. An excellent drummer can help the paddler crew push the envelope. When two boats are getting close or their drumbeats overlap, the drummer has to blow a whistle so that the paddlers at the back of the boat can get the signal to keep up with the tempo. There are three to five ways of drum beating. Different beating sounds represent different ways and speed of paddling. The crew have to paddle in accordance with the drum beats. The more uniformly the crew paddles, the faster the boat will go. • SteersmanA steersman is responsible for keeping the boat to move in a straight course. A skilful steersman can help the boat accelerate by reducing drag when he minimises the contact between the boat and the water surface. The steersman needs to keep the flat part of the rudder beneath the water during the whole course of the race, and is not allowed to make any move that would induce thrust. In general, persons having reached the age of 14 and with the ability of swimming 50 metres are eligible to join this sport. If you are interested in taking training courses on the dragon boat sport, please contact the HKCDBA at 8106 8145 or visit their website. You may also look for training classes provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
Although most people are aware of the need to take protective actions against sunburn, there are some common misconceptions about UV radiation and the ways of protection: Myth 1: Darker sunglasses offer more protection from UV radiationThe most important thing to look for in sunglasses is how much UV radiation they filter out. It should be noted that there is no relationship between the colour of sunglasses and their UV filtering action. When one wears sunglasses the pupil widens as there is less light reaching the eye. If the sunglasses have poor UV protection, the amount of UV radiation getting into the eyes may even be greater than not wearing sunglasses at all. For adequate protection, one should wear sunglasses that are able to block at least 98% of the UV radiation. Myth 2: You can't get sunburn on a cloudy dayYou do get sunburned on a cloudy day, that is of course, if you are engaged in outdoor activities but not properly protected against ultraviolet radiation (UV). It is true that on a cloudy day, you won't get as much exposed to UV from direct sunlight as when it is a clear sunny day. However, sunlight, including UV, are scattered by gases in the atmosphere, as well as by clouds, dust, haze and even fog. Up to 80% of solar UV radiation can penetrate thin cloud cover. There are also occasions when broken clouds enhance UV radiation by reflection from their sides.Therefore, in case of doubt, it is advisable to check the latest UV index through radio, television, the Observatory's website and Dial-a-Weather system (1878200). Myth 3: You can't get sunburn while in the waterWater offers only minimal protection from UV radiation. At half a metre under water, the UV radiation level is still 40% as intense as at the surface. Also, the part of body above water is additionally exposed to ultraviolet rays reflected from the water surface. Myth 4: Sunscreen lotion protects me so I can sunbathe much longerSunscreen lotion should not be used to increase sun exposure time but to increase protection during unavoidable exposure. The protection provided by sunscreen lotion depends critically on their correct application. For more about sunscreen lotion and sunburn protection, please check out "Sunburn and SPF". Myth 5: If you take regular breaks during sunbathing you won't get sunburnUV radiation exposure is cumulative. The total health damage you get will be the sum of the effect of individual exposure. Therefore, to protect yourself the objective is to reduce exposure to UV radiation as far as practicable. This could decrease the chance of skin cancer. Myth 6: If you don't feel the hot rays of the sun you won't get sunburnSunburn is caused by UV radiation which cannot be felt. The heating effect is caused by the sun's infrared radiation and not by UV radiation. Therefore, even if you don't feel the warmth, you may also get sunburn. Human exposure to UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system. So please be aware to take protective actions against sunburn. (For more details, please click here to read the article written by Hong Kong Observatory) (Information provided by Hong Kong Observatory)