The oldest and most traditional dragon boat festival in America, the Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York (HKDBF-NY), kicked off Saturday, with a record number of teams competing from across the United States and Canada. With a record number of more than 180 teams participating, involving more than 2,500 participants, this year\'s festival is expected to be notable in its scale and fierce competition. The festival keeps up the age old tradition of Dragon Boat Racing in colorful, custom made teak boats, which are piloted by up to 20 crewmen, including 18 paddlers, a drummer and steers person. \"I love this sport pretty much, that\'s why I do it. I have my own team, and I do with my family, my wife is the manager and I\'m the captain of the team,\" said Perter Gin, team leader of one of the participating teams, Fierce Dragons, told Xinhua. HKDBF-NY, an international, multi-cultural celebration and sporting event, is the largest multi-cultural Festival in New York and the largest festival of its kind in the United States. For 22 successful years, it has attracted a diverse, multi-cultural audience of more than 50,000 attendees throughout North America. The tradition of Dragon Boat Racing is an annual Chinese rite commemorating the idealistic poet and reformer Qu Yuan who drowned himself in the third century B.C. to protest against his emperor\'s policies. The locals raced in their boats in an attempt to rescue the poet. To prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, the locals beat their drums and splashed their paddles. This was the beginning of Dragon Boat Racing.