It all began with a letter. In 1996 the Riesa Watersports Association wrote to businesses in the area to ask if they'd like to form a dragonboat team. At the Nünchritz chemical plant, the letter arrived at the plant fire department. Not long after, the WACKER Fire-devils completed their first race on the Elbe made up with red face paint and small home-made horns on their heads.
Soon employees from all departments were joining the dragonboat team, which today boasts 28 members. “From the lab to the chemical plants, all divisions are represented,” says Roland Kümmig, 60, who as team leader organizes the training sessions. With widely differing working hours, this is no easy task. But as the “Area Manager for Transport and Logistics” Kümmig is the perfect man for such complex organizational tasks.
From May to September, the dragonboat team trains once a week and twice weekly before a race. “The boat is 12.5 meters in length and can seat at least 16 paddlers,” explains Ulrich Bachmann, 56. The former firefighter who currently works as a plant operator has been involved in the dragonboat team from the very beginning.
The races are contested in different race classes and distances. The short distance is 200 meters but there are also races over more than 900 meters. In the mixed category, at least six women must paddle, whereas in the open class, gender is not taken into account.