The traditional Hong Kong style dragon boats used in our festival are 46-feet long, with 10 seats and 20 people. A drum seat in front of the first two paddlers (seated beside each other) holds a drummer – you want the smallest, loudest, most rhythmic person you can find. A steerer guides the boat with the steering oar in back. These 22 people make up a dragon boat team.
Once you and your team pick up paddles, you’ll love dragon boat racing. You’ll thrive on the adrenaline and the teamwork in the boat. People who never thought of themselves as athletes often perform well in the sport of dragon boat racing which requires that paddlers, drummer and steersperson work in unison to cross the finish line.
The dragon boat stroke is unlike any other (the most similar is outrigger canoe) – the rudiments of which can be quickly learned during practice. Every paddler plays a specific role. They sit next to each other, and against the gunnel to balance the boat as they paddle. The strokers occupy the front three seats of the boat, while the fourth seat is a transition place where, ideally, the paddlers have rhythm and power. The next few rows are the “engine room,” where the largest and strongest team members sit. The last four rows of the boat are filled with strong paddlers who are also typically shorter and able to paddle faster. They’re considered “rockets,” because the water scooped back by the paddlers in front is moving faster for them. The paddlers are taught to watch up the middle of the boat and two seats across – and sync with the actions of that paddler. The drummer keeps the rhythm for everyone.
Dragon boating is a very visual sport, and if everyone is synchronized, magic can happen in the boat. Teams have to follow the strategy, and then execute: the team members in the front must paddle in perfect timing as an example for the back half of the boat. When the power from the middle is mixed with the speed and capabilities of the paddlers in the back, a dragon boat can glide quickly through the water like a bullet.
Whether you want to win the race, or win your lane – bring your team to the start line! Festival teams look to co-workers, friends, spouses, church members, civic leaders, customers, neighbors, and others to fill a team of 20 paddlers and a drummer. An experienced steerer, boats, paddles and life jackets will be provided. There’s a reason dragon boating is the fastest growing water sport – and no reason you shouldn’t get involved. Jump on board and make waves!
Register your team here