The annual Sarawak Regatta will begin on November 18 to November 20 this year, promising a grand event with participating teams hailing from both government and private sectors, local and abroad, though the most numerous competitors remain the local villages that pepper the banks of the Rajang river.
The regattas have a special place in the hearts of local villages of all races, as it dates back to 1872 during the James Brooke era, when it was first introduced with the intention of stopping racial wars among local tribes where headhunting was largely practiced.
James Brooke called all tribes to challenge each other not in violence, but instead in sportsmanship, by having boat races to prove their power, strength and speed; a call that has since continued to bring peaceful competitiveness between the tribes along the Rajang.
The villages throughout Sarawak will be sending their representatives to compete in the regatta for the coveted ‘Raja Sungai’ title, making a grand occasion of comradery, teamwork and healthy rivalry.
Each longboat carries thirty paddlers and this category is always a closely fought affair and a major crowd puller, while the programme also includes the “Brooke Swim”, Raft Tug-of-war, and duck catching as well as various exhibitions and markets along the waterfront selling cultural crafts, wares and food.
The Sarawak Regatta takes place along the Sarawak River. The 1.3 km Kuching Waterfront provides ample vantage points to watch the action on the water.