Download our Free Hurricane Checklist

Get our free PDF download checklist to ensure you are ready for hurricane season.

Areal view of a large hurricane approaching the Yucatan from the Caribbean

The First Dragon Boat Festival in Mexico: A Celebration of Life and Hope

Puerto Aventuras will host “Rosa Mexicano” the 1st Dragon Boat Festival in Mexico

The picturesque Puerto Aventuras marina and Fatima Bay will be the setting for the inaugural “Rosa Mexicano” Dragon Boat Festival which will be held from February 1st to 4th.

This is a groundbreaking event that combines ancient tradition with a powerful message of hope and resilience, especially for breast cancer survivors.

Team Samchak Kukulcán
The Samchak Kulkucán Dragon Boat Team

Teams from the United States, Canada, Venezuela, and Colombia will participate, marking the beginning of an exciting and inspiring new sporting tradition in Puerto Aventuras.

The 4-day program is designed to cater to all levels of dragon boat athletes, from beginner to expert, with clinics, regattas, and knockout competitions.

You can find the updated schedule of events for the “Rosa Mexicano” Dragon Boat Festival posted here.

Dragon Boat Racing: Sport with a Purpose

Dragon boat racing is an ancient sport with its roots in Chinese folklore and culture, dating back over 2,000 years. Traditionally, it involves paddling a long, narrow boat adorned with a dragon head and tail, with teams working in unison to the beat of a drum. The sport has gained international popularity and is now practiced in many countries around the world.

Dragon Boat team in Puerto Aventuras
Puerto Aventuras Dragon Boat Club

The connection between dragon boat racing and breast cancer survivors emerged more recently and is deeply inspiring. This connection was pioneered by Dr. Donald McKenzie, a sports medicine physician at the University of British Columbia, in the mid-1990s.

Dr. McKenzie challenged the prevailing medical notion that women who had undergone breast cancer surgery should avoid strenuous upper body exercise to prevent lymphedema, a condition characterized by painful swelling, often in the arms, that can occur after breast cancer surgery.

In 1996, McKenzie started a dragon boat team for women who had survived breast cancer, named “Abreast in a Boat.” His goal was to determine whether this high-intensity, upper-body exercise would benefit or harm breast cancer survivors.

First Dragon Boast Festival in Mexico Supports Breast Cancer Survivors
Members of the Puerto Aventuras Dragon Boat Team, Samchak Kulkucán

The results were groundbreaking. Not only did the participants not experience exacerbated lymphedema, but they also reported physical and psychological benefits. These included improved fitness, strength, flexibility, and, importantly, a sense of empowerment and community.

The success of “Abreast in a Boat” sparked a global movement, leading to the formation of numerous dragon boat teams consisting of breast cancer survivors. These teams participate in dragon boat festivals worldwide, sharing their personal experiences, promoting awareness about breast cancer, advocating for breast cancer awareness and research and demonstrating the health benefits of dragon boating for survivors.

Frist Dragon Boat Festival in Mexico

Dr. Donald McKenzie will be attending the first Dragon Boat Festival in Mexico and will be delivering a keynote lecture.

For breast cancer survivors, dragon boat racing has become a symbol of hope, resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit. It emphasizes the importance of physical activity in recovery and survivorship, and it stands as a testament to the strength and determination of women who have battled breast cancer.

Emotional Ceremonies, Educational Talks and Local Culture

The opening ceremony is set to be a unique event, blending two ancient cultures – Maya and Chinese – through a Harmonization Ceremony for protection filled with music, and tradition.

pink carnations floating in the ocean
Pink carnations for the Flower Ceremony

The “Rosa Mexicano” Dragon Boat Festival will present the emotional Flower Ceremony, a poignant and symbolic tradition within the dragon boat community, especially among teams comprising breast cancer survivors. This ceremony holds deep emotional significance and is a hallmark of many dragon boat festivals around the world.

The festival will also present the Ceremony of Light with a serene candlelit boat journey through the channels of Puerto Aventuras at sunset. The Ceremony of the Light serves as a moment to remember and honor those who have lost their lives to breast cancer. The light acts as a gentle, respectful tribute to their memory.

Beyond competitions and ceremonies, the festival offers participants and spectators a valuable platform for knowledge and reflection. Renowned oncologists, therapists, nutritionists, and physiotherapists, led by the Comprehensive Cancer Treatment Center, will offer talks and share experiences in a supportive and inclusive environment. These discussions will cover important aspects of life after breast cancer, offering valuable information and emotional support.

The closing ceremony for the “Rosa Mexicano” Dragon Boat Festival will be held at Hoyo 19 with live musical entertainment from Mr. Rojo and The Ohm. Everyone is invited.

Rosa Mexicano Press Conference

The organizers of the 1st “Rosa Mexicano” Dragon Boat Festival in Puerto Aventuras hope that this event will be a beacon of hope and a celebration of life, combining the passion for sport with triumph over adversity. They invite the community to join in this exciting event that promises to be a memorable experience for all involved.

Dragon Boat Racing in Puerto Aventuras

Founded in April 2022, Puerto Aventuras Dragon Boat Club (formerly Outrigger Canoe Club) is the first dragon boat club in Mexico. This organization was the dream of Francois Blais, an athlete, and coach with more than 25 years of international sports career who now calls Puerto Aventuras his home.

Balam ha Dragon Boat Team Panama
Balam Ha Dragon Boat Team preparing for Panama

In its first year of the club’s activities, Team Balam-Ha was formed. Balam-Ha means Water Jaguar in Maya. In February 2023, Team Balam-Ha represented Mexico with 21 paddlers at the Panamerican Club Crew Championship in Panama. This was the first dragon boat team to represent Mexico in this renowned international tournament.

Following their return, word spread within the local breast cancer survivor community leading to the formation of Team Samchak Kukulcán (Pink Serpent-Dragon) a dragon boat team comprised of breast cancer survivors, now registered with the IBPC (International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission). Tean Samchak Kukulcán will be competing in this exciting event, the first Dragon Boat Festival in Mexico.

Puerto Aventuras Dragon Boat Club

Registration and Additional Information

You can find the updated schedule of events for the “Rosa Mexicano” Dragon Boat Festival posted here.

Participants and spectators can find more details about registration, accommodations, transportation, and additional tours on the festival’s official website, or via email at [email protected].

To find more events and activities in Puerto Aventuras, visit the Puerto Aventuras Events Calendar.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Fun and Easy Day Trips from Puerto Aventuras
11 Great Riviera Maya Beach Clubs
Find the Best Cenotes Near Puerto Aventuras

Join the Puerto Aventuras Living Facebook Community!

Join the Puerto Aventuras Living Facebook Group to find up-to-date information about Puerto Aventuras and the Riviera Maya. Here you can ask local experts for advice on trip planning or relocating to the area, keep informed about new events and businesses and get to know the people in the community.

Join the Puerto Aventuras Living Facebook group

2 thoughts on “The First Dragon Boat Festival in Mexico: A Celebration of Life and Hope”

Leave a Comment