Why You Should Try Dragon Boating

What is Dragon Boating?

Dragon boating is a paddling sport that originated in Southern China over 2000 years ago. In a standard boat there are 20 paddlers (10 per side), 1 drummer at the front and 1 steersperson at the rear for a total of 22 people. All 22 people must work harmoniously together to make the boat move as one unit. If one person is out of time, it can affect the whole boat, disrupting the glide and decreasing efficiency. Most people think dragon boating only utilizes the upper body but that is completely incorrect. The stroke begins with hip and leg movement before transferring to the upper parts of the body. This makes it a full body sport.

Dragon boating is a sport for anyone regardless of skill level. There are several divisions in which teams can compete in, they include: Juniors (U19), Under 24 (U24), Premier (top ranked division, no age restrictions), Senior A (39+), Senior B (49+), Senior C (59+) and the Breast Cancer Survivors division. Within each division there are recreational and competitive teams. Most beginners join recreational teams before making the transition to a competitive team in future years. There are multiple recreational clubs located throughout the lower mainland, with most teams paddling within False Creek. Most teams offer a complimentary trial period to “try out” their team and get a feel of what they have to offer. 

As mentioned above, dragon boating engages the whole body with heavy emphasis on the back and core. This allows for a total body workout during each session and as a result, overall body strength and flexibility will increase. A typical dragon boat race is 500 meters in length, however, variations such as 100m, 200m, 1000m and 2000m races exist. A 500 meter race generally takes 2:20  to complete, with competitive teams reaching times slightly below 2:00. The Concord Pacific Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival consists of 100m. 500m and 2000m races. It is the largest dragon boat festival outside of Asia and hosts over 200 teams from around the world every June.

My Background

I first started dragon boating 2.5 years ago, when a classmate of mine asked if I would be interested in paddling for a recreational team during the race season. I was hesitant at first since it was weeks before final exam season begun. Going to practice turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It has taught me the importance of teamwork and never giving up on your teammates. I now paddle competitively for Juice Dragon Boat, a local U24 dragon boat team. Our goal is to win the Canadian Dragon Boat Championships in the U24 division next year and the 12th International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Club Crew World Championships in 2020.

Dragon boating has provided me with a second family. Some of the closest friends I have today, I met through dragon boating. Spending 6+ hours a week on a boat with my teammates gives me the opportunity to really get to know them. It has help me connect with other paddlers around the world, including my best friend Stephanie. Although we live on opposite sides of the country, we find time to keep in touch and stay connected through this wonderful sport. If you want to be a part of a tight knit community while staying active, then dragon boating is perfect for you.

Kevin Kwok – Client Care Manager

kevin3Kevin enrolled in numerous sports program as a child, which exposed him to an active lifestyle early in life. He played ultimate frisbee competitively at the junior level while in high school. Kevin now focuses his training exclusively on dragon boating. He has been paddling for the past 2 years and hopes to make the Canadian National Team in 2019. He hopes he can motivate others to accomplish their short and long term fitness goals.

This post has been developed by studio contributors which include Co-Op students, kinesiologists, therapists and our expert colleagues

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