Dragon Boat Racing

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When dragon boats return to the beautiful Manning River on Sunday 15 March they’ll be bringing a sport steeped in rich sporting and cultural traditions.

While dragon boat racing is a relatively young sport in Australia, recently celebrating 25 years in New South Wales, the sport originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. 

Legend has it that dragon boat festivals celebrate the life and death of Qu Yuan, a much-loved Chinese poet and official who drowned himself in protest in Hunan Province in 278BC. Local fishermen raced to recover Qu Yuan’s body, banging drums and splashing paddles to scare off fish. This event is considered the birth of dragon boat racing, and many of the traditions are still part of the sport today.

Despite its cultural history, dragon boat racing has a strong sporting tradition in New South Wales. Under Dragon Boats NSW Inc. the sport has grown to 45 clubs and over 2,100 members from Byron Bay to Merimbula to Dubbo – and everywhere in between. The appeal comes down to it being a fun and accessible sport for people of all ages and fitness levels. If you’re over 12 years old, there’s a dragon boat category for you.

Because of the nature of dragon boat racing, paddlers are able to participate competitively or socially. Once bitten by the dragon boat bug, many paddlers have experienced the excitement of representing New South Wales at the Australian Dragon Boat Championships. Others have taken the challenge further and represented Australia internationally at events like the World Championships. 

Dragon Boat Racing in action

Dragon Boat Racing in action

Dragon boating is the ultimate team sport, requiring 22 people to make up one crew. Working together is essential to power a dragon boat down a race course. This makes it perfect for companies and social/sporting groups that want to try a different type of team building activity. It’s a great way to get out of the office or off the field and experience the adrenalin pumping, fast-paced sport of dragon boat racing.

The sport is also fantastic for high schools. Programs can be developed that allow schools to include dragon boat racing as part of their school sports program, running for a single term or through an entire school year. 

But dragon boats aren’t just a once a year feature on the Manning River. The Manning River Dragon Boat Club was formed last year following the great success of the inaugural Manning River regatta. 

In just 12 months the team has grown to 48 members and has taken part in a recent regatta organised by Dragon Boats NSW Inc. at Tacoma on the Central Coast.

The Manning River is the perfect location for dragon boat racing. Offering a wide, deep waterway and picturesque scenery, there’s no better way to get out on the water. Whether you’re a watersports enthusiast or a keen novice, paddling in a dragon boat is a unique and exciting way to experience the Manning River at its best.

Once you’ve seen dragon boats in action we’re sure you’ll want to experience the excitement for yourself. The Manning River Dragon Boat Club is always interested in hearing from potential paddlers. 

To find out more about paddling in the region, contact Debbie Ashwell on 0422 296 828 or debbieashwell@hotmail.com

And if you’re just visiting the Manning River but would love to know more about dragon boating in your city or town, visit Dragon Boats NSW Inc. website at www.dbnsw.org.au for more information about dragon boat clubs and events near you. 

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2 Responses to Dragon Boat Racing

  1. Robyn Noll says:

    Hi, I am very excited to read about the Dragon Boating on the Manning, I now live in South Australia, but will be coming home to Taree about the 1st of November, have to attend a wedding in Sydney on the 7th, however I see that you train of a wednesday evening and wondered if its possible to have a paddle while I am home. I return to SA on the 13 th. I am a founding member of the Port Lincoln Blue Water Raiders team and would love to see the manning from the water again. I used to cox the fours racing shells at school way back when the rowing club first started, before the lovely new clubhouse and we had a shed at the yacht club…..long ago now. Mum sends me all the cuttings from the Times so have read about your growing club with great interest. Thank You and Congratulations. Robyn.

  2. Catherine Milner says:

    OK guys. I am looking forward to having a go,but the date confuses me. In 2010 March 15 th is a Monday. Give me the correct date please. Cathy

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