Jesse Patrick concentrates on the rhythm.
Small waves pass by buoys rippling Grand Park waters from dragon boats filled with teams of racers inching toward the finish.
“Getting a rhythm and holding that rhythm is important,” he said.
Patrick was one of several participants who raced during the 10th annual Ground Dragon Boat Festivals that took place at The Market Common Saturday. Each team competed in at least two races with the teams having with the top times in each division heading to a final race.
The event is estimated to have drawn thousands to the area and is held yearly to raise funds for local ministry Ground Zero. Competing teams have 20 paddlers along with a coach, who steers from the back, as well as a drummer in front who helps the racers all paddle at the same time.
Each team had a chance to practice in the days leading up to the race. Several trophies were given out including to those who placed first, second and third in different divisions.
The event was free for spectators and also featured a DJ, drummer costume contest and several vendors. For an additional cost, one could play at a kids area or ride on a banana boat.
Patrick, who teachers math at Carolina Forest High School, competed for the first time in the yearly race along with the rest of his team, the Carolina Forest Panther Paddlers. He described the event overall as having a “great atmosphere.”
“I actually am a kayak guy so I like being out on the water but it’s a different type of paddling,” he said, adding many of his teammates were fellow CFHS instructors. “It’s a team effort so it’s fun.”
Patrick said the key to having a good race is having team members communicate with one another, stay on the same page and paddle in unison.
Felicia Pedrick, also a first-time paddler, agreed.
“It’s awesome but it’s intense because you definitely want to try to stay in sync,” said the realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Myrtle Beach who competed as part of the That Boat squad.
“I love it," she said of the experience. “I think it’s a lot of fun.”
For those seeking more information about Ground Zero, visit mygroundzero.com.