Before we get to the teamwork part, a little bit of background is required.
Similar to the use of outrigger canoes, dragon boat racing has a rich background of ancient ceremonial, ritualistic and religious traditions.
Thought to have originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago, dragon boat racing has been practiced continuously since this period as the basis for annual water rituals and festival celebrations, and for the traditional veneration of the Chinese dragon water deity.
Of the twelve animals which make up the traditional Chinese zodiac, only the Dragon is a mythical creature. Dragons were traditionally believed to be the rulers of water: rivers, lakes, and seas. They were also thought to dominate the waters of the heavens: clouds, mists, and rains.
Dragon boat racing venerates the dragon deity and is meant to avert misfortune and encourage rainfall.
The crew of a standard dragon boat consists of 22 team members:
– 20 paddlers in pairs facing toward the bow
– 1 drummer
– 1 sweep standing at the rear
Dragon boats, however, do vary in length and the crew size changes accordingly, from small dragon boats with only 10 paddlers up to traditional boats which have upwards of 50 paddlers.
Races are typically a sprint event of several hundred meters, with 500 metres being the most common. Races measuring 200, 1000, and 2000 metres are also standard distances in international competition.
The true beauty of paddling a dragon boat comes from teamwork – immersing yourself in this amazing culture of community, commitment and determination! There is something spiritual about the synchronicity of the crew and being focused on a common goal.
It’s not the fittest or strongest team that succeeds on the water – it’s the team that works as a single force.
I love my Invictus dragon boat family and am so proud of how far we’ve come in just our first 12 months of competition.
Fate, Soul, Invictus!
“We paddle as one”
Hopefully we get to this level one day…