You can see why this sport continues to find followers from corporate, sporting, social and academic circles. Steeped in tradition, fast and furious, Dragon Boat racing is adrenalin inducing, great for fitness and forging stronger team ties. And who doesn’t want to have (or to be in) arms like those of an avid rower?
Open to men and women of all expertise, the boat races are mainly sprints in nature with distances ranging from 200 to 1000 metres. Crews of 20 paddlers, a sweep and drummer compete to propel a 14 metre boat by synchronised paddling, from start to finish.
How did it come about? Dragon boating originated during troubling times in China circa 4th century BC, when Qu Yuan, a poet and statesman, threw himself into a river in protest against corruption. In an attempt to save him, the people raced to him in their fishing boats, oars splashing and drums beating in order to scare away sea creatures from Yuan’s body.
To this day, boats featuring decorative dragon heads and tails are raced in his honour. And this weekend you can see some of the best of dragon boating, at the Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Races held at Darling Harbour.
Sports crews will battle it out on the water on Saturday 16 February whilst the corporates, including Amnesty International, Macquarie Bank, Deacons, PWC, Volkswagen and Remy Martin will vie for honours on Sunday 17 February.
You can cheer on the 2000 paddlers racing to their well-trained wake-making beats, or simply enjoy the Market food and festival atmosphere.
Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Races,
Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 February, 8am-5pm, Darling Harbour, free.