Dragon Boat Racing at TsaiChuan.com

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Racing is the sport of racing slim, open, human-powered boats commonly referred to as Dragon Boats.

It is said that the first traditional-style Chinese Dragon Boats were built over 5000 years ago. Dragon Boat Paddlers use single-bladed paddles to drive the boat forward.

Traditionally, Dragon Boats have usually been used for both spiritual and sports causes.

Dragon boat racing is an important part of ancient agricultural Chinese society to celebrate the summer rice harvest. Dragon boat races were usually held in China's southern-central "rice bowl". It is said that where there were rice paddies, so were there dragon boats.

Dragon Boat Racing's popularity has phenomenally increased the past few years, thanks to the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA), which arranged the first Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival International races in 1976.

The size of a Dragon Boat is determined by the number of paddlers on board. The smallest boat, commonly called the "Baby Dragon", seats eight paddlers. Other boats are designed for more than 100 paddlers. But the today's international standard racing dragon boat seats 20 paddlers, one drummer (also known as the 'caller') and a steersperson (or the 'sweep').

The hull of a dragon boat doesn't have a keel and there are no bow and stern posts. Instead, a concave keel plank and bulkheads are placed inside the hull. The boat's bow doesn't cut the water. The water is guided under the dragon boat through a "keel-tunnel" shaped by the plank.

There are many different designs and sizes of wooden dragon boats used in the traditional Festival Races but as modern 'Sport Dragon Boat Racing' developed around the world, the International Dragon Boat Racing Federation, the world governing body for Dragon Boat Racing, introduced a common Dragon Boat and Paddle design for general use in racing.

The design of the dragon boat and paddle chosen by the IDBF Congress in 1994 was the standard size Dragon Boat as raced in the Hong Kong International Races (HKIR). The HKIR is recognized as the 'mother races' of dragon boat racing.

The result was the International Racing Dragon Boat (IRDB). It is generally constructed of glass reinforced plastic. The common boat design was the best way to ensure fair competition in dragon boat racing.

The IDBF has developed two models of the IRDB:

  • the Standard Model 1222 - for a crew of 22 people maximum and just over 12 meters in length
  • the Small Model 912 - for a crew of 12 or less, at 9 meters in length. The Hull shape and design is the same in both IRDB models but the overall dimensions are less for the 912 model