The Dragon has a very symbolic meaning for the Chinese. A classic dragon has the head of an ox; a deer's antlers; the mane of a horse; the body and scales of a snake; the claws of an eagle and the tail of a fish. With its strength and power, the Dragon rides the clouds in the sky and commands the wind, mist and rain.
The Dragon Boat is deeply embedded in China's 'Dragon' culture, with each Boat having an ornately carved dragon's head at the Bow and a tail in the Stern. The Hull is painted with the Dragon's scales. The paddles symbolically represent the claws. In IDBF Sport Racing there are generally 18-20 paddlers per Standard Dragon Boat and 8-10 paddlers in the Small Boat, plus a drummer and a helm (Steerer). In traditional festivals, the boat designs and crew numbers can vary from 10 up to 50 or more paddlers, plus of course the Drummer and Helm!
The races are a colourful spectacle, with at least two boats competing against each other over distances from 200 to 2000 metres and above. Not only are strength, endurance and skill important but teamwork and harmony of purpose.
In ancient China the Dragon Boat was used for religious purposes as a way of appeasing the rain gods. Later Qu Yuan, the great warrior poet, committed suicide in the river Mi Lo, as a protest against the political corruption of the day. To commemorate this, sacrifice the people began to organize Dragon Boat Races in his memory. Since that time over 2000 years ago, Dragon Boat Racing has become a major part of Chinese culture, representing patriotism and group integrity.
Today, Dragon Boating is a mass participation team sport with an ancient past and a very bright future. Although it is not yet an Olympic sport, it is heading that way fast! Since paving its way through to a mainstream sport in both Eastern and Western culture, Dragon Boating has become a sport for people at all levels, with multiple competition levels and the focus on community and fun.
Catch the 2018 National Australian Dragon Boat Championships them battling it out on Lake Kawana from March 3-8. For full details, CLICK HERE