Dragon boat is unique among large-team sports. There are no star players, like a quarterback or a pitcher. Instead, the success of the team relies on the complete synchronization and coordination of its 22 members. Strength is a factor, but not the most important factor. Rather, the perfect timing of each individual paddle entering and exiting the water together results in the perfect run of the boat.
Dragon boat is uniquely accessible to paddlers of all fitness levels, ages, and abilities. It is multicultural and inclusive. It is a sport that one can learn to do effectively in a single practice session, and yet it takes a lifetime to perfect the technique. It is welcoming to people that are looking for a recreational opportunity on the water, and it is challenging for an athlete, at the top of their game, looking to be selected for Team USA. Special interest divisions for competitions include Breast Cancer Paddlers and All Cancer Paddlers. For paddlers with impairments, Paradragons is an exciting and inspriational new division within our sport.
A typical distance in dragon boat racing is 500 meters, though 200-meter, 1000-meter and 2000-meter distances are sometimes seen at festivals, particularly in international competition. Some teams race once per year in their local community race, others train hard on and off the water to achieve their best times at the Club Crew Championships, and some don't race at all.
Dragon boat festivals are abundant across the nation, and you may have seen one in your community. The sport continues to grow to include a variety of special-interest athletes.