Dragon boat racing began in southern China 2,400 years ago as a fertility rite performed to ensure bountiful crops. Races were held to ward off misfortune and summon up the rains needed for prosperity. The object of their worship was the dragon, who was believed to control rain and rule the water.
Today, Dragon Boat Festivals are held all over the world, with Canada holding 24 festivals coast to coast. It is one of the fastest growing athletic events in the world.
These festivals provide opportunities to introduce the sport of dragon boat racing to hundreds of people while at the same time raising funds for individual charities. The Dragon Boat Festival promotes athleticism, teamwork, competition and good, old-fashioned fun. The best thing about it is that any skill level can quickly adapt to the sport. No prior experience is necessary.
A typical Hong Kong style dragon boat is almost 12 meters (39 ft.) long, 1 meter (3 ft.) wide and weighs about 1500 lbs. It consists of the main body of the boat, with a dragon head at the front and a long tail out the back.
Constructed of wood, it holds 22 people for each race: 20 paddlers, a drummer (who keeps the beat of the stroke) and a steer-person (who keeps the boat straight). An equal number of people paddle on each side of the boat. The "Race on the River" races consist of 17 people (16 paddlers and 1 drummer) in each boat and can include up to 4 alternates. A qualified coxswain is provided by the event. All teams must include at least 6 female paddlers.
Due to their size and design, dragon boats are very stable and therefore very suitable for beginners. Races take place on a straight course, with each boat in a lane 9 meters wide. Race distances vary, depending on the event, from 200 meters to 640 meters. "Race on the River" is 250 meters.
Over thirty-five teams of twenty-one participants will form throughout our community and beyond. Some will come from corporations, area industries, small businesses, financial institutions, service clubs, and community organizations. Others will be made up of groups of individuals, both local and visiting.
The Race will be held on the East River on July 21st & 22nd, 2023. It will run all day and be viewed by more than 1000 participants and spectators from the vantage point of the two shores and the George Street Bridge.
A children's tent, concessions, and other family-oriented activities will be going on throughout the day at the race site.