About Dragon Boat Racing

We’re not sure what’s louder, the drum beats or the heart beats!

Dragon boating is all about human power, cooperation and team work! The boats are about 12 metres long with twenty people two abreast, along with a sweep to steer at the rear and a drummer on the front. For competition events, dragon boats are decorated with dragon heads and tails. Competitions are divided into separate categories depending on the mix of gender and age of the paddlers over a course of 200m, 500m, 1000m or 2000m. Some competitions also have categories for 10 paddlers per boat.

The sport is recognised for the camaraderie, strength and endurance of participants. It's a great way to build fitness and make new friends.

Further information about dragon boating can be found on the International Dragon Boat Federation website.

History of Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon boat racing originated in China over 2500 years ago. The dragon boat festival commemorates the death of the poet Qu Yuan (pronounced "choo wan"), who drowned himself in the third century BC as a protest against a corrupt government. The legends are that the towns people attempted to rescue him by beating drums to scare fish away from eating his body and threw rice dumplings into the river to tempt the fish away from their hero. ​

Qu Yuan's sufferings had gained the sympathy of the people of Chu, and his tragic death is commemorated each year on the fifth day of the fifth moon, the day he drowned himself, when the fishermens’ attempt to save the poet isre-enacted in the form of dragon boat races. Traditionally, one paddler stands in the boat searching for Qu Yuan's body, while a drummer on board and the ferocious-looking dragon designs were added to frighten away evil water spirits.

While competition has taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of folk ritual, it emerged in modern times as an international sport in Hong Kong in 1976.​

The original Chinese dragon boats are constructed from teak planks, with camphor wood ornamental heads and tails. However, most modern dragon boats, such as the ones used in Canberra, are constructed from fibreglass, with wooden benches and detachable fibreglass ornamental heads and tails.

Last modified: 
14 March, 2017 - 09:36