Stony Brook pride was on full display at the Port Jefferson Village Eighth Annual Dragon Boat Race Festival on Saturday, September 17. The full-day event, held at Harborfront Park, had nearly two dozen teams competing for bragging rights.
This year’s race was the first time Stony Brook had two teams — Stony Brook University Seawolves and Stony Brook Medicine — competing in the festival. More than 40 undergraduate and graduate students, medical and dental students, staff members, as well as physicians and healthcare professionals from Stony Brook University Hospital served on the teams and raced in three heats against crews from all over Long Island and New York City. It takes 20 people plus a drummer to paddle a dragon boat.
For the first time in seven years, the Seawolves Team took home a gold medal in the “C Division” with a burst of energy and spirit to win. Despite very tough competition and being their first year paddling, the Medicine Team earned a bronze medal in the “B Division.” Cheryl Chambers, associate dean of students and director of Multicultural Affairs, along with Judy Jaquez, associate director for Multicultural Affairs, managed the Seawolves Team. Erika Karp, community relations representative for Stony Brook University Hospital, managed the Medicine Team.
“Our students, faculty, and staff enjoy the camaraderie with the competing race teams and the opportunity to learn about Asian culture during the festival,” Chambers said. “We are grateful to the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce for making this event possible.”
In addition to racing, Stony Brook’s participants had ample opportunities to network and learn about each other’s work. The teams enjoyed cultural entertainment, including performances by Stony Brook University’s own Taiko Tides, a traditional Japanese drumming group. Food trucks lined the entrance, and local community businesses offered information and giveaways at their tables.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to meet other members of the SBU community,” said Katherine Hackett, a staff assistant for the School of Health Professions Occupational Therapy Program.
Hackett, along with Antoine Chiu, a first-year medical student at the Renaissance School of Medicine, served as co-captains of the Stony Brook Medicine Team. While paddling experience isn’t required, Hackett and Chiu are skillful paddlers and helped guide their team members on the water. Chiu was even a member of the U.S. national team.
Sam Tran, a sophomore psychology major on the Seawolves Team, said she decided to participate as she has previously enjoyed kayaking with her family. However, it was her first time paddling in such a competition.
“The whole festival — it was a lot of fun,” Tran said.
Lorane Crawford, an administrative assistant in the Renaissance School of Medicine’s Office of Finance and Administration on the Medicine Team, echoed Tran’s sentiments.
“It is just good to be out and enjoying the atmosphere,” Crawford said.
Stony Brook’s participation in the Dragon Boat Race Festival was sponsored by the Office of the President, the University & Hospital Community Relations Office and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The festival is hosted by the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, of which Stony Brook University and Stony Brook University Hospital are members.
— Erika Karp