Dragonboat Beaufort was born this time of year, four years ago.
The Beaufort International Film Festival was in full swing.
A documentary called “Awaken the Dragon” moved breast-cancer survivors Clare Taylor and Mary Ann Thomas to quickly form a local Dragonboat organization.
For the past three years, the group’s Dragonboat races have been part of the Beaufort Water Festival. Now the boats are striking out on their own, moving to Labor Day weekend.
The Water Festival could no longer fit the races in its traditional 10-day window, Dragonboat president Kate Olin said, so the group began exploring other dates.
“We are grateful to have had the support of the Water Festival the past couple years, but with the continued growth of the Dragonboat races, our board feels that holding the Dragonboat races over Labor Day weekend is a perfect way to help wrap up summer in Beaufort,” Olin said.
The popular paddle races in the Beaufort River will be held Sept. 3 in front of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The event raises money each year to support cancer patients and survivors. Groups are able to sponsor their own boat or donate in a variety of ways.
Dragonboat Beaufort’s launch in 2012 was inspired by the documentary on Charleston’s event. The Beaufort group first competed in Charleston that same year.
Dragonboating involves paddling a 42-foot-long, narrow craft and originated in China. Twenty paddlers face a drummer in the bow, where the pace is banged out. Another person stands in the stern to steer with an oar.
For the past three years, the local event has been part of Beaufort Water Festival. Organizers expect the standalone event on a holiday weekend to continue to be a draw.
John Dickerson, assistant director and a past president of Dragonboat Beaufort, said the group hopes to land a regional race the same weekend.
The event raised $65,000 last year. More than 700 paddlers participated during last year’s Water Festival.
City Council this week approved Dragonboat’s use of Waterfront Park for the event.