The world's fastest growing water sport is also the most exciting. Twenty paddlers move in unison, combining strength with teamwork in a boat whose elaborate design originates in ancient China. Dragon Boat Racing is a great sport for men and women of all ages and abilities. Anyone can do it and have fun!
According to the legend, during the Warring States period in China (475-222 B.C.) the state of Chu had a high-ranking minister of great talent and genius named Qu Yaun. The king of Chu traveled to the neighboring state of Chin to draw up a treaty and was kidnapped and killed. The king’s eldest son, successor to the throne, distrusted minister Qu Yuan and banished him.
During his exile, Qu Yaun wrote poetry expressing his love for the country and became a hero to the people. Upon hearing the capital of Chu was invaded, Qu Yaun jumped into the Mi Lo River and drowned. The local people feared the fish would eat his body so they paddled their boats to the middle of the river, banging drums and thrashing their paddles to scare them off.
The dragon boat races held in many of the cities in China and around the world commemorate this event and honor this man, who was perhaps the first known of China’s poets.
The World Championships of Dragon Boat Racing have been held annually in Hong Kong since 1976. In 1991, the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) was formed in response to the explosive growth of the sport. Based in Hong Kong, the IDBF boasts over 100 member organizations in more than 40 countries. Since 1995, World Championship events have been awarded to Canada, China, New Zealand, England, Australia and the United States. A Commission was developed to oversee the standardization of equipment, rules and regulations.
Within a relatively short period of time, backed by a strong sprint canoeing background, North America has emerged as an international dragon boat racing powerhouse, shaking the foundations of a sport that has historically been dominated by Asian countries.
What’s most exciting is the growth of the sport at the grassroots level. Dragon boat racing is great fun for anyone, young or old.