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Beyond the Paddle: The Real Rewards of Dragon Boating

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Kai Chung Poon and Kit Ng - Jebsen Dragon Boat Team Paddlers

Gib gas!

This is a phrase we have been using a lot over the last few months. It is German, and it literally means “give gas!” It is used to cheer others on, kind of like the phrase “add oil!” we often use in Cantonese to encourage friends, colleagues, or sports teams.

Learning German was just one of the perks of being on the Jebsen Dragon Boat Team.

We have both been on the team for three consecutive years, but this year has been particularly unforgettable. For one, we had teammates from various business units, so we got to meet and spend time with colleagues we wouldn’t normally see in the office. We also had people of various nationalities, so as a team, we were constantly switching between languages to make the experience inclusive for everyone (thanks to teammate Gustav for teaching us gib gas – he, too, picked up quite a bit of Cantonese along the way!)

Since we had 10 mandatory practice sessions in the season, we got to know and appreciate one another, and we benefited from fruitful cultural exchange. What’s more, we all learned the true essence of teamwork. Dragon boating is driven by the momentum of a full team’s effort, which means the boat only moves forward when every single member of the crew paddles together. The 10 practice sessions culminated in the Sai Kung District Dragon Boat Festival Race on May 30, where we represented Jebsen to compete with other dragon boat teams from around Hong Kong. It was a heartening moment when we crossed the finish line together, to the sounds of cheers from other Jebsen colleagues who had come out to support us.

We are really proud of the entire team for completing the race, because it was no small matter. The experience was truly a test of wills. The hardest thing about dragon boating is not technique, but perseverance. We had to practice every week, unfailingly, rain or shine. Our team coach set very high standards for us. Most importantly, because individual actions affect the whole team, once we opt in, we had to stay committed. Any absences from practices meant disruptions to the team composition, as well as its momentum.

As more experienced paddlers, we still remember our first days on the team, struggling to keep up with the crew and going home with blistered hands (this is why cheering one another on is such an important part of the sport). But our persistence paid off: we have since built up the endurance to paddle in perfect tandem with the team. Not only that, we built up confidence, and we built lasting friendships with fellow Jebsen folks as well. We look forward to another great year with the team!

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