BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Thousands of spectators braved the rain and scorching heat Sunday for the the annual Brunei Darussalam Regatta, held conjunction with His Majesty’s 73rd birthday.
Scores of people lined up along the Brunei River waterfront, cheers roaring as boat racers from Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and China paddled their way to the finish line.
The sporting event consisted of twelve categories, kicking off with the 1km 15-man fiberglass boat race which involved His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, members of the royal family, as well as government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
The monarch’s team took first place in the category, going neck-and-neck with the team led by HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, which was bested by just three seconds. Third place went to the team led by HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Bilah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.
One of the highlights of the regatta was the 5km 30-man boat marathon. Winner of this year’s trophy and grand prize of $6,000 was the Laksamana Sinampuan team from Lawas, Sarawak who claimed victory with a time of 14:15 minutes. Second place went to Lela Cheteria A team, while the Royal Brunei Armed Forces came in third.
A representative from Laksamana Sinampuan, Awang Noor Saini Abdul Ghani, said the Lawas team sent 43 members for this year’s regatta, made up of veteran and youth rowers.
He told reporters that they had been training for two months in preparation for the regatta, expressing pride that they managed to take home two trophies on Sunday — first place in the 5km marathon and second place in the 2km under-30 category.
The Museums Department also staged an exhibition detailing the history of the regatta, which started in the 1930s but faded out in the later half of the 20th century, until it was revived in 2012. The exhibition also showcases the traditional craft of boat making in Brunei-Malay culture.
The exhibition is open to the public until September 30, from 9am until 5pm, except on Fridays where the gallery will be open from 9am until 11.30am and 2.30pm until 5pm.