How To Train Your Dragon Boat

Did somebody say dragons? Few things can get a three-year-old boy out of the house faster the promise of a dragon sighting.

I discovered dragon boat races while researching 101 Things You Gotta Do Before You’re 12! as part of the See A Great Race entry. They were originally part of the Chinese DuanWu Festival (the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar) which celebrates an ancient poet who drown himself after being exiled on false charges. The dragon boats represent the boats that rushed to save him. Chinese immigrants to the US and Canada brought the festival with them, and in recent years the number of dragon boat races has skyrocketed.

There are big annual events in TampaPortland, Oregon, Boston, and many other places. The two biggest dragon boat races outside of Asia are apparently in Vancouver and Toronto.

Dragon boat racing has been called “the fastest growing water sport” in North America–there’s even Major League dragon boat racing.

Dragon boats have a dragon head and tail on either end, plus a heart: the drum that’s beat by the coxswain. She hits faster, the rowers row faster, and vice versa. At most dragon boat races, there are vendors with Chinese food, lion dancers, and other glimpses of Chinese culture.

Much to my surprise, the dragon boat trend has even made it to here to southern Appalachia. We went to the third annual Lure of the Dragons dragon boat race yesterday at beautiful Lake Lure, North Carolina (we’ve now attended every year!).

I imagine ours might be the only dragon boat festival that includes clogging and gospel music, but hey, that’s what this melting pot is all about.


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