What is Dragon Boating?
For those unfamiliar with the sport, dragon boating simply put, is a boat of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steers person paddling to cross the finish faster than their competition. It’s a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization and endurance.
With its beginnings in Southern China, dragon boating today is the fastest growing international team water sport. Each year, race festivals are held around
the world in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States, one of the largest festivals in the North America is held right here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The appeal to dragon boating is mainly contributed to the sport’s ability to accommodate a wide spectrum of skill levels ranging from novice to competitive. At the novice and recreational level, teams often form as a means of social outlet, team building and an alternative means of exercise.
For the spectator, the true display of the sport’s intensity and skill is witnessed in the competitive ranks. Competitive paddlers rigorously train to condition themselves in the areas strength, endurance, form, mental focus and most importantly timing. Teams with well conditioned paddlers in near perfect synchronization, fueled by competition, provides an impressive event of a cascade of boats exploding through the water. At this level dragon boat racing becomes a sport of inches and an exciting event for its spectators.
The Origin Of Dragon Boating
Dragon boat racing is one of the earliest known forms of boat racing and is celebrated at festivals and races throughout the world. This annual celebration is a symbol of Chinese culture and spirit and is one of the three largest festivals in China. The roots of dragon boat racing go back over 2,000 years to the southern provinces of China.
Legend has it that Qu Yuan, a scholar and advisor to the emperor of the Chu Kingdom, jumped into the Mei Lo (Mi Luo) River in despair and protest against government corruption. Local fishermen raced out in their boats to save him. They beat drums and pounded their paddles on the river’s waters and threw rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leafs into the river to distract the fish from eating from Qu Yuan’s body. Dragon boating evolved from the re-enactment of this legend at annual festivals.