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Dragon Boat Racing, 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, Sydney, Seattle, New York, London, Cape Town and Dhaka, to Ottawa, Chicago and Des Moines. Canada’s largest dragon boat event is in Ontario, where 250 000 people turn out each year for the Toronto race festival.

In Western Canada, the big 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.

Canadians are very prominent in this exciting sport. The Vancouver False Creek Women’s Team has won 5 World Championships, and the Vancouver Men’s 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, and when this happens, Canadians are guaranteed to make a run for the gold.

In Edmonton, the sport is growing exponentially. The three-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.

The dragon awakes...
Paddles up!  Pull!
Victory... how sweet it is!
Stretch, girls... we have a race to run!
Vancouver... what a great place to be a paddler!  And what a great place to wear fleece, too...