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What 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 high-adrenaline sport originated to commemorate a philanthropic Chinese statesman, Qu Yuan, in ancient China. 

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 sport has 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 GWN race festival. Thousands of other Ontarians attend the Waterloo, Mississauga, Kingston, Ottawa, Sudbury, Guelph and Sarnia festivals.

In Western Canada, the large dragon boat festivals are held in Calgary, Kelowna, Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Saskatoon. 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 Alcan  competition, drawing thousands of spectators to the shores of False Creek.

Does Canada compete in International dragon boating?

Canadians are indeed very prominent in this exciting sport. The Vancouver False Creek Women’s Team has won 5 World Championships in Hong Kong, and the Vancouver Men’s 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 year?

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 Edmonton?

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.

The dragon awakes...

The powerful co-ed Team Wasabi of Oregon!

The 2001 World Championships are 
Philadelphia, August 2-5, 2001

The World Champions are 
The False Creek Women 
of Vancouver
, a proud crew of 
outstanding Canadians!

The beautiful women of the Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club!

We really love the Wasabi team from Portland, Oregon!  They have such great technique!


Victory... how sweet it is!
Stretch, girls... we have a race to run!

copyright 2001, all rights reserved
"Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club", :"EDBRC River Rats", "EDBRC Swamp Rats"
and "EDBRC Muskrats" are all trademarks
subject to Canadian copyright laws and other annoying legalities.

All photos on this website are to be used only by
really cool fellow DB paddlers who promise to promote our site with hyperlinks.

Any comments or funds you would care to send to the webmaster
should be directed to
Paul Gil at RG Enterprises

Special thanks to Team Wasabi of Portland for sharing photos with us.