If you've never paddled on a dragon boat team before, you'll be amazed at how much fun it is, and how smooth and fast the races seem. Afterwards, you'll feel how much effort it took, but while you're racing it's all about being synchronized and keeping your form.
Dragon boat racing may be an ancient sport with origins in China, but it's now become a fast-growing international sport. There are over 50 annual dragon boat races across the United States, and you can find competitions in the UK, Europe, and of course, all over Asia.
CDBF uses two types of boats. The Taiwan, or "Flag Catcher" style, is popular with amateur teams like ones sponsored by local companies and organizations. The Hong Kong style boats are lower, lighter and faster, and are used by competitive teams including ones who come from out of town to race at CDBF. Both take 18 paddlers and feature a drummer; the Taiwan style of course also has a flag catcher who crouches at the bow and then climbs on the dragon's head to snatch the flag at the end of the race!
You can read our Race FAQs here!
DRAGON BOAT PADDLING TIPS
Below you will find a few paddling tips from CDBF's Race Committee. First of all, remember, it's "PADDLING," not "rowing." Keep in mind that there are many different approaches to paddling, but they all have the same thing in common: to have an "efficient" stroke. These are just some guidelines and you will always do as your own coach instructs when you are on their boat!
Before you can paddle, you need to have a good base of support. When you sit in the boat, you must "hang a cheek" (your outside hip) as close to the side of the boat as possible.
So....Paddles Up. Have fun and be safe! See you on the water!
- Keep the paddle vertical when the blade is in the water (top hand over bottom hand)
- Keep a quiet boat, meaning, do not move side to side when paddling
- Keep the paddle as close to the gunwale (side of the boat) at all times, during the stroke and also during the recovery
- Try to recover with the blade as close to the water as possible,
- Stay open and big when paddling, head-up, chin-up,chest-up helps keep the airways open as well!
- Bottom hand should grip around 4" up from top of the blade; if you hold too near the blade, it will limit how far you can reach
ROTATION AND EXTENSION AND FORWARD LEAN:
- Rotation starts from the (1) hips, (2) lower back, (3) upper back, (4) shoulders, (5) extend arms
- To maximize reach and extension, concentrate on bringing your outside arm parallel to the water before the catch and extend the bottom arm straight
- Most of your weight should be on your outside butt-cheek with the other side slightly lifted off the bench when reaching
- I like to keep my outside leg forward. You can keep both forward or the inside leg (depends on what your coach says)
- I am able to use my leg to push off for extra power
- Lean forwards at all times, it really helps to get more length on the stroke - also if the person sitting in front of you is not leaning, it will shorten the stroke of the person behind.
- Try to reach and extend further than you normally would.... When you practice this more, the easier it will get :)
- Plant your paddle into the water before you start to pull
- The catch should be silent without any splashing (otherwise that means you are starting to pull before a full catch)
- Keep the stroke up-front, and do not pull back too far past your hip or you will put drag on the boat
- Keep your core tight as most of the work during the pull is coming from your back and legs (not from the arms)
- Lock your bottom arm while pulling
- Push with your leg for extra power
- Think of the pull as if you are pulling yourself and the boat up to the paddle, rather than pushing the paddle into the water
EXIT AND RECOVERY:
- Exit when the blade reaches your mid thigh as pulling back too far will create drag
- Try to pull up instead of out to the side....try not to drop your top arm too low in front of your face
- As you exit the water, you can do a slight inwards twist with your wrists to help with the clean exit
We'll see you at the races!