The Making of Cambodia’s Record Breaking Long Boat
The record for the Longest dragon boat has been broken in Cambodia, with a colossal build measuring 87.3 m (286 ft 5 in) – almost the same length as the height of the Statue of Liberty!
By Connie Suggitt
The record was achieved by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), Prey Veng and Prey Veng Provincial Administration in Cambodia who built the half-mile-long boat using traditional methods.
Six straight logs and some stumps where used to form the boat. The timber for the boat was taken from Koki msoav (Hopea odorata) trees, which are renown in the country for being highly water-resistant.
The tree trunks used were over 50 years old, and official permission to use them was required from government departments such as the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Once connected and carved into the basic shell of the boat, the wood was hollowed out and heated over a long fire to dry out and cure the wood.
It was then carved in the traditional style, sporting a dragon head at either end. It was then made watertight and decorated with delicate paintings.
The boat was also blessed at various points during the construction process; including when it first arrived to the site and when it’s decorations were finished.
The boat’s style was confirmed by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) who set the international standard for dragon boats.
The art of making and racing dragon boats originated in southern central China over 2,500 years ago, and has become an integral part of water festival celebrations in the Eastern world.
The exceedingly long dragon boat (which is less than six metres shorter than the Statue of Liberty which is 93 m tall) was created for the Cambodian Water Festival, which is considered as one of the most important traditional rituals Cambodia.
It is a culmination of celebrations, and encompasses the “floating bridle”, the “moon festival” and “Ak Ambok”; a traditional rice dish consisting of rice, coconut and banana.
The water festival is celebrated during the second week of November to coincide with the full moon and the first day after the full moon on the lunar calendar.
This leads to the water of Tonle Sap flowing in reverse course (from north to south) in front of the Royal Palace.
During the festival, the god of water and the god of land are thanked for providing enough during the rice transplanting season for a successful harvest.
It also gives the Cambodian people a chance to pay tribute to the Cambodian navy. The navy was created during the reign of Jayavarman VII, to liberate the country from a four-year invasion by Champa (1177-1181 A.D.).
Record-breaking is nothing new to the UYFC, who also hold the record for Largest sticky rice cake, which weighed 4,040 kg (8,906 lb 10 oz), and the Largest Madison dance, which had 2,015 participants.
With three records now under their belt, what record will the UYFC break next?