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What is dragon boating?

Dragon Boat Racing, which is very different from 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.  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 dragon boat 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 metres.  It is a truly compelling sight to see a race of five teams with 100 people churning water towards a finish line.  The pounding drums and cheering from the crowds will be guaranteed to hook you the first time you watch it.

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, 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.

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, and Sarnia festivals.

In Western Canada, the large dragon boat festivals are held in Calgary, Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver. 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 and IDBF World Cup competitions, 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...






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...

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