A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft. They were traditionally made in the Pearl River Delta region of China’s southern Guangdong Province out of teak wood to various designs and sizes.
What is dragon boating?
It is critical that all paddlers are synchronized. Each paddler should synchronize with the paddler diagonally in front of them. This ensures that the paddling pace is balanced and all energy is spent on moving the boat forward. The direction of the dragon boat is set by the helm, not the paddlers. The lead paddlers are responsible for synchronizing themselves.
- The “catch” at the front of the 60-degree negative angle allows the paddler to bury their blade deep in the water.
- The “pull” stage generates the power to move the boat, most often by using the strong muscles of the back to propel the boat beyond the paddle.
- The “release” or “return” is the final stage of the stroke. To release, the outside arm should slightly bend and the blade should release to the top of the stroke. It is important for the blade to return as vertically as possible, with the top hand staying outside the boat. Each of these components of the stroke is equally important and must be done in synchronization with the paddle across and in front. If done correctly, all paddles will be in time with the lead strokes.
If paddlers are not synchronized, each successive pair of blades hits the water a fraction of a second behind the blades in front of them. To an onshore observer, this effect resembles the movement of a many-legged caterpillar or centipede; thus, a coach may discipline a team for “cater pillaring.” During a race, it is difficult to stay in sync as the sounds of other drums make it confusing or unreliable to time off the drumbeat.