First Navy Team Competes in Yokohama’s Annual Dragon Boat Race
YOKOHAMA, Japan – Officers and Chiefs from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem’s (DDG 63) teamed up as "Steelworkers," a name used to represent their namesake Steelworker Robert Stethem, to participate in the Yokohama “Hari” Dragon Boat Race June 1 in Yokohama Harbor. 

With more than 4,000 participants and 200 teams from around the world, Stethem was honored to be the first Navy team to compete in this annual competition since the series began in 1994.

“The Dragon Boat races were a unique and rewarding experience that I wouldn't hesitate to compete in again,” said Chief Electronics Technician Ryan Davis.

“After overcoming adversity and inexperience to finally completing the race, the support and encouragement from the teams and spectators was overwhelming.” 

The Yokohama Dragon Boat race has become a popular international affair with teams traveling from around the world to compete. USS Stethem’ Steelworker team competed the first of two weekends vying for the Mayor’s Cup. 

Participants competed in long, narrow, colorful boats with a dragon head attached to the bow and tail on the stern. Each team had up to twenty participants to tread the 260 meter course; eighteen paddlers, one to keep cadence with a drum, and one person manning the rudder.

The Steelworkers’ main goal during the second heat was to finish without sinking by reducing their team size from twenty to sixteen. 

"We may not have done as well as we hoped, but the event was fun and the Japanese were very welcoming,” said Lt j.g. Eric Wishnie of Stethem.

 Dragon Boat races are rooted in Chinese culture with the word “hari” representing the action of oars hitting the water. The races were held for thousands of years in China before spreading to Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Britain. 

Stethem is forward deployed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.

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