May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we’re sharing stories about SRP employees like Eric Tang who make unique contributions to our community.
When Eric Tang isn’t helping SRP deliver power and water to the Valley, chances are the Manager of Transmission System Planning is thinking about another passion of his — dragon boat racing. Since 2004, Tang has played a pivotal role in bringing the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival to life.
An ancient sport made modern in the desert
Dragon boat racing began in China about 2,500 years ago. Today, the sport is celebrated with festivals around the world, including Tempe, where 89 teams competed in 75 heats on Tempe Town Lake. SRP is a past sponsor of the event, which is one of the largest in the country.
Like his job at SRP, teamwork is critical if a dragon boat crew hopes to enjoy success. “Each boat carries 20 paddlers, with room for a drummer in the front to set the cadence and a steersperson in the back to keep everyone on course,” Tang said. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
A triumphant return after COVID break
After pausing for two years due to the pandemic, the festival returned in March. Tang was “excited and relieved” to have the sense of community renewed and teams back on the water this year.
“For me, the racing was secondary,” he explained. “The festival was more about seeing each other again and just having fun.”
“The dragon boating community is tight-knit, and teams are considered second families. And so it was great being back. I hope attendees had fun too and were encouraged to give racing a try.”