A committed HSBC team of paddlers pulled together in searing temperatures to come fourth at this year’s Hong Kong dragon boat races.

Held on the longest day of the year, 20 June, to coincide with the annual Tuen Ng – or Dragon Boat Festival – thousands of spectators descended on Stanley beach to watch the colourful spectacle.

The Chinese International School scooped first place at the Stanley International Dragon Boat Championship 2015, with two other social teams coming in second and third.

Daniel Cooper, a working capital specialist in HSBC and team captain, said he was “extremely proud” of the achievement, which comes after months of training, starting in mid-February.

“The energy that the competition creates is incredible and really gives HSBC’s people a sense of pride in the bank,” he added. “This event breaks down the barriers that can form in large companies between teams and departments.

“Normally training ends after the race as people go on summer holidays and try to take a rest. But this year there’s been emails about continuing the weekly training right away and also about going international. Watch this space: soon we might be year round and in full force.”

‘Highly competitive’

An ancient Chinese folk custom dating back more than 2,000 years, dragon boat racing has caught on all over the world from Asia to Europe, with events in more than 60 countries. It has become particularly popular in the UK among big corporates as a team-building exercise, with close-knit team-work required for success.

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Typically 20 paddlers – not rowers – sit in pairs, with a drummer up front setting the pace of each paddle stroke. A coxswain steers from the back.

The Commercial Bank at HSBC became involved in dragon boat racing three years ago at the behest of Noel Quinn, regional head of commercial banking at HSBC Asia Pacific, who thought it could be a good way to get the different bank’s product groups together. It is a chance for colleagues from IT to Finance to get to know each other outside the corporate environment. No partners can participate but otherwise, anyone employed by the bank can join the team.

“Three years ago the team didn’t exist, and we have now improved the boat and become highly competitive. Next year we aim to win,” said Cooper.

“There are international dragon boat races throughout the year in Asia. There is a dragon boating event in Malaysia in July and some of the team are keen to participate.”

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Photo: HSBC

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