Dragon boating is a paddling sport that has its origins over 2,000 years ago, and which is steeped in Chinese history. However, as an international sport, it really only goes back to a relatively recent 1976. In that year, overseas crews were invited, for the first time, to race in the traditional Hong Kong Festival Races. Since then, some 75 countries have registered with the International Dragon Boat Federation, the sport’s peak body.
Races are usually between ‘standard’ boats or ‘small’ boats. A standard boat carries 20 paddlers, a drummer (at the front, facing the paddlers, to beat the time) and a helm (at the rear to steer the boat). A small boat has 10 paddlers, drummer and helm.
In all boats, paddlers sit on benches in pairs, facing forwards. The front two paddlers are known as the ‘strokes’ and set the pace. The drummer beats the time as set by the strokes.
Races are typically over straight line courses of 200m, 500m and 1,000m. In these races crews go head-to-head with each other. There is also a 2km ‘turn race’, where crews set off at intervals (typically 15 seconds) and race two laps around an elliptical course. Much longer races are also sometime held (for example, the Great River Race on the River Thames is 42km long!)
Many races are undertaken by age and gender:
Junior: 12-18 years
Premier: Any age (over 12 years)
Senior A: 40 years plus
Senior B: 50 years plus
Senior C: 60 years plus
Open: Any number of paddlers of any gender
Womens: All crew must be women
Mixed: At least half the paddlers must be women
Thus a typical race might be: ‘Premier Open, Standard Boat, 500m’
However, for Purple Warriors, we intend to race all ages and any mix of genders in the crew.
Make Purple Warriors your next challenge.