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The GFORCE Guide to… Dragon Boat racing

Added 24 Sep 2019 by GFORCE

When pulling together a list of sports to feature in our niche sport blogs, there are always one or two sports that really stand out from the crowd. And this time it’s one of those!

Who knew about the fascinating history of dragon boat racing?

Dragon Boat Racing is billed by the British Dragon Boat Racing Association (The BDA) as ‘one of the most exciting, competitive team sports you can take part in on water.’ And you can really see why.
It’s also a completely inclusive team sport for everyone, featuring mixed gender crews for years.

The history of Dragon Boat racing is steeped in Chinese culture where the dragon has a very symbolic meaning.

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 has 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 International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Sport Racing there are generally 18-20 paddlers per standard size Dragon Boat and 8-10 paddlers in the small Boat, plus a drummer and a helm (Steerer).

The races are a colourful spectacle, with at least two boats competing against each other over distances from 200 to 2,000 metres and above. Not only are strength, endurance and skill important but teamwork and harmony too.

Dragon Boat Racing first featured competitively in the UK in September 1980 and in 1981 racing featured in the World Canoe and Kayak Racing Championships, held at the National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham.

The formation of the Dragon Boat Racing Club of Great Britain (DBRC) was founded in June 1985 and in July 1987, the British Dragon Boat Racing Association (BDA) was formally constituted as the governing body for the sport of Dragon Boat Racing in the UK.

The first National Championships were held in October 1987 on the Serpentine Lake in London's Hyde Park and the sport was finally recognised by the Sports Council in 1992. It is now looking for recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Now, there are lots of chances to take part in Dragon Boat racing over the summer, with an annual series of events in the BDA National League taking place in venues throughout the UK.

There is also the BDA National Championships, which is a two-day event held at the end of the season, with all crews that competed during the season taking part. Races are typically over 200m, 500m, and 2000m distances. To find out more visit: www.dragonboat.org.uk

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