Have you ever heard about Chinese dragon boat competitions? If not, please allow me to tell you a relatively ancient story. There was a virtuous feudal official named Qu Yuan in China. He was a well-known patriot, but failed to persuade the king to revitalize the country with his ideas. He felt so grieved that he finally chose to commit suicide by drowning himself. The public was deeply moved by Qu Yuan’s spirit, and spontaneously rowed their boats following Qu Yuan to save him. Unfortunately, Qu Yuan was found dead, but the dragon boat competition tradition was born. It has been carried on ever since and has become one of the most popular team competitions in China today.

We, MANN+HUMMEL Shanghai, had a dragon boat competition on Sep. 26th, 2015. It was a fantastic event. Thanks to this event, colleagues had a the rare opportunity to learn more about each other outside the work context. And we felt like a real family after we fought on the same boat for victory!

dragon boat

It was a windy and sunny Saturday, making it the perfect day for a dragon boat competition. When we arrived at the racing site, a large and beautiful lake, we met many teams from different companies and organizations. It was so exciting to watch the professional teams competing on the rolling lake, from which you could feel the beauty of strength and power of teamwork.

After we were equipped with life jackets and paddles, we surrounded the drummer immediately. Normally the drummer sitting at the foredeck takes the leadership role of the team, because the drumbeats determine the paddling frequency of the team members. The team members exchanged ideas about appropriate paddling gestures and discussed potential key points to follow to win the game. We reached a consensus effectively in a short time.

dragon boat

When we got onboard the dragon boat, we felt like a self-confident unified team. On the poop deck of each boat there was a professional helmsman assigned by the competition committee randomly. To make sure that the boat would move in the direction that we wanted, we had to coordinate well with the helmsman. I was sitting in the last row of the boat with another female member, thus we two voluntarily acted as the “signal corps”. We had to shout instructions like “forward”, “backward” and “paddles in the water” to the front members, and eventually to the drummer. Based on our smooth communication, we accurately paddled to the starting point and waited quietly for the competition to begin. Some of the teams’ boats were in a spin (or otherwise moving chaotically).

dragon boot festival

As soon as we heard the drawn-out sound of a siren coming from afar, we started to paddle synchronously. Everyone followed the drumbeats with their paddling, and shouted together to synchronize our movements. We thought about nothing but following the drumbeats. The boat cut through the waves like a bat out of hell. That one minute and 56 seconds was an eternity but we all did our best to paddle. The moment was so short that we all enjoyed it immensely in that “fighting as one team for the same goal” mindset. At that moment, we were purely one team with only one target! When we paddled  past the terminal point, we were told that we had won! The whole team burst out in happy shouting and laughter.

That was the kind of moment when you feel that everything is worth it!