The dragon boat sport requires team work
Do you remember? At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the dragon boat was one of the transportations for the Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong, adding a refreshing and regional touch to the event.
Origin and development
There are numerous versions about the origin of the dragon boat. The most widely adopted version is: it started from 278 BC, during a period known as the Warring States in Chinese history, to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Since then the dragon boat races have been held every year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
Despite being a festive activity for the Tuen Ng Festival, the dragon boat race was not considered as a sport activity until 1976. In that year the former Hong Kong Tourist Association held the first International Dragon Boat Invitational Competition at Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter. It brought international recognitions to the dragon boat race which eventually became a sports competition.
As the dragon boat sport gained popularity around the globe, the International Dragon Boat Federation was formed in 1991 during the Hong Kong International Races. The Asian Dragon Boat Federation was formed in Beijing in the following year. The Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association (HKCDBA) and other local groups are dedicated to organising and promoting dragon boat activities in Hong Kong.
The dragon boat sport requires team work. The drummer, paddlers and steersman have to cooperate to attain speed.
• Drummer and paddler
Stationing on the bow, a drummer is responsible for conducting the tempo of the paddlers. An excellent drummer can help the paddler crew push the envelope. When two boats are getting close or their drumbeats overlap, the drummer has to blow a whistle so that the paddlers at the back of the boat can get the signal to keep up with the tempo.
There are three to five ways of drum beating. Different beating sounds represent different ways and speed of paddling. The crew have to paddle in accordance with the drum beats. The more uniformly the crew paddles, the faster the boat will go.
A steersman is responsible for keeping the boat to move in a straight course. A skilful steersman can help the boat accelerate by reducing drag when he minimises the contact between the boat and the water surface. The steersman needs to keep the flat part of the rudder beneath the water during the whole course of the race, and is not allowed to make any move that would induce thrust.
In general, persons having reached the age of 14 and with the ability of swimming 50 metres are eligible to join this sport. If you are interested in taking training courses on the dragon boat sport, please contact the HKCDBA at 8106 8145 or visit their website. You may also look for training classes provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.