|Dragon Boat Racing,
which is not to be confused with rowing or canoeing, is a 2000-year-old sport that rivals soccer
for international participation. Also known as Asian Longboating, this sport originated as the commemoration of a
philanthropic Chinese statesman, Qu Yuan, in ancient China.
In the last twenty years, this sport has migrated westward to become an international sport with a huge following. In China alone, 20 million people paddle these large race boats in both fun and fierce competitions.
Around the rest of the world, dragon boat race festivals are tradition in every major city: from Hong Kong to Sydney, Seattle to New York, London to Cape Town, Dhaka to Ottawa, and Chicago to Des Moines.
Canada holds its largest dragon boat event in Ontario, where 250 thousand people turn out each year for the Toronto race festival.
In Western Canada, the large dragon boat festivals are held in Calgary and Vancouver. The Calgary provincial festival draws 30 000 spectators and over 1500 racers from around the country each July. The much- larger Vancouver Festival has the honor of hosting the annual IDBF World Cup competition, and draws thousands of spectators to the shores of False Creek.
Canadians are very prominent in this exciting sport. The Vancouver False Creek Womens Team has won 5 World Championships, and the Vancouver Mens Team regularly places in the top 5 at the Worlds.
As of this writing, the sport is being considered by the IOC as a new Olympic sport. For the Sydney 2000 Olympics, dragon boating will be showcased as a demonstration sport. When dragon boating becomes a full Olympic sport, Canadians are guaranteed to make a run for the gold.
In Edmonton, the sport is growing exponentially. The four-year old Edmonton Dragon Boat Race Festival has nearly doubled in attendance each year, now attracting about 60 teams and thousands of spectators to the bank of the North Saskatchewan in August. Media popularity is increasing the profile of this sport as a community venture, and enrollment is growing by hundreds of Edmonton paddlers each year.