History of the Dragon Boat

Rich in tradition and Chinese Culture, Dragon Boating dates as far back as 2500 years ago. Legend says that Dragon Boating was conceived when Qu Yuan, a great poet, was exiled by the King and in great hopelessness Qu Yuan then committed suicide on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The community was deeply saddened by his death and paddled out in search of his body; hitting the water with their paddles and beating drums. Thus tradition was formed by creating Dragon Boat Races in his memory. Although there are varying stories embedded within the many regions of China; each legend carries the same significant Chinese cultural themes of virtue, spirit, loyalty, and honor.

With the Dragon having great importance within the Chinese culture, the boat is very symbolic. In China, a Dragon represents strength and has encouraging powers, especially over water. Traditionally, each boat has an ornately carved dragon’s head at the bow and a tail for the stern. The hull is painted with dragon scales. Dragon Boat paddlers not only have strength and endurance, but have exquisite teamwork and harmony.

Through the years, Dragon Boating was used for various religious water rituals and cultural celebrations. In the 1970’s the Hong Kong Tourist Association brought back the traditional Dragon Boat Races, and in 1991 the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) was formed. Today Dragon Boat Racing is an official team sport full of tradition and culture; with over 50 million Dragon boaters spanning the world!