is dragon boating?
Dragon Boat Paddling is very different from,
and much older than, rowing or canoeing. Much closer to outrigger
paddling, dragon boat paddling is a 2000- year- old team sport, intended as a
fun way for communities to gather in competitive spirit to promote mutual good
will and prosperity.
Also known as Asian Longboating, this
originated to commemorate a philanthropic Chinese statesman, Qu
Yuan, in ancient
To this day, dragon boating
remains the single largest team sport in the world, with over 60 million
participants involved in over 120 countries.
Much more vigorous than canoeing, and involving much more teamwork than
rowing, dragon boating is a fun and athletic challenge taken on by teams of 20 paddlers.
A drummer at the front
controls the team's synchronicity. Paddling at stroke rates of 60 to 85 spm,
teams furiously churn water to beat their opponents to the finish.
The dragon boat itself is a fiberglass or teak hull
boat measuring 39' to 48' feet long by 4' wide by 18" deep. At full race weight
with 20 paddlers, 1 drummer and 1 steerer, a loaded dragon boat is about 4200 to 4500 lbs.
Experienced teams post times of 2.5 minutes to cover 500
meters...the equivalent speed of an 8 min. running mile. It is a truly
compelling sight to see nine teams with 180 people furiously trying to outdo
each other in a race. The pounding drums and cheering from the crowds will be guaranteed to
hook you the first time you watch a dragon boat race!
Dragon boating is also a very
social sport. Hundreds of youthful athletes enjoy the spirited company of their
teammates, and big barbecues and parties are commonplace at all dragon boat
festivals. Single people repeatedly comment on how this is such a good
way to meet other people.
How big is this sport?
In the last twenty years, this
spread 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,
40 million other people enter dragon boat
race festivals 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.
Is this sport popular in Canada?
Yes! Canada holds its big dragon boat
events in Ontario, where 250 thousand people turn out each year for the Toronto
festival. Thousands of other Ontarians attend the Waterloo, Mississauga,
and Sarnia festivals.
In Western Canada, the large dragon boat
festivals are held in Calgary,
The Calgary and Kelowna
festivals each draw 30 000 spectators and over 1500 racers from around the country each
summer. The even- larger Vancouver
Festival has the honour of hosting the annual
competition, drawing thousands of spectators to the shores of
Does Canada compete in International
Canadians are indeed very prominent in this
exciting sport. The Vancouver False Creek Womens Team has won 5 World Championships
in Hong Kong, and the Vancouver Mens Team regularly places in the top 5 at the
Worlds. Canada has also sent teams to compete in the UK World Championships.
Is this sport going to be at Sydney this
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.
What about dragon boating here in
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.