BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Brunei River was awash with colour on Sunday for the annual Brunei Darussalam Regatta organised in conjunction with His Majesty the Sultan’s 72nd birthday.
The event drew thousands of spectators to the Royal Wharf in Bandar Seri Begawan, with teams from Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and China vying for trophies in 12 different race categories.
Boat racing was popular back in the 1950s but faded out over the years. The Brunei Regatta was revived in 2012 to help reignite interest in traditional boat-racing and since then has become one of the most anticipated in the national calendar.
Not one to miss out on the action, His Majesty and members of the royal family took part in the 15-man fiberglass boat race, which also saw grassroots leaders, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps racing for the top spot.
The team led by HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah just pipped the sultan’s team for victory by four seconds. Third place went to the team led by HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The organisers of this year’s regatta also wanted to promote the sport to young people, and introduced a category for secondary schools and college students. Seven secondary schools and colleges participated in the event for the first time.
One of the highlights of the competition was the 5KM 30-man boat marathon. Paddlers from West Kalimantan, Indonesia took home the trophy and a prize of $6,000, finishing ahead of the team from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces with a time 19:33 minutes.