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So far, 396 boats have registered to compete in this year’s Water Festival races, which will run from Nov 11 to 13, according to Chea Kean, deputy secretary-general of the National Committee for Or­ganizing National and Inter­national Festivals.

Last year, 434 boats competed in the three-day races; in 2006, 409 raced.

Now it’s up to provincial committees to test the boats in order to determine which speed class they will compete in, Chea Kean said. He added that the festival will also include concerts, fireworks and 23 decorative light boats.

Nhim Vanda, vice president of the National Committee for Dis­aster Management, said he had ad­vised the festival committee on safety measures for this year’s festival, including emergency rescue boats, lifejackets and military and police presence.

Last year, the disaster management committee was not involved in preparations for the festival, assuming that it was unlikely that any racing boats would sink, Nhim Vanda said.

As it turned out, five racers from Singapore drowned when their boat capsized during the festival. None were wearing lifejackets.

“What is important is that all boat racers take care of themselves, don’t get drunk and sleep well before racing,” Nhim Vanda said.

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