Dragon Boat

October 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features, Sport Spotlights

Laoyam Eagles from Pemberton BC participating in the 2012 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy Whistler Question)










As high school students return to school from summer break, one of the many decisions they are faced with is choosing which sports teams to join. Sports like basketball, volleyball and hockey are always top of mind with many students, but one sport that should certainly not be overlooked is dragon boat. To help shed some light on this increasingly popular sport, this month’s sport spotlight takes a closer look at the history of the sport in Canada as well as the opportunities available for high school athletes.

Athletes compete in the 2012 Manitoba School Dragon Boat Challenge (Photo courtesy Manitoba Paddling Association)










Dragon Boat in Canada

While dragon boating’s roots are based in China and Hong Kong, an interesting fact is that Canada played a very significant role in helping it become an internationally renowned sport. It was in 1986 in Vancouver during Expo 86 that dragon boats were first “presented” to the world as part of celebrations for Hong Kong Day. Five years later, the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) was born and then in 1996 on the 10th anniversary of its world introduction, the first ever IDBF Club Crew World Championships were held in Vancouver. Since then, dragon boat has undeniably become an international sport, with races held around the world in over 40 countries. To this day, two of the largest dragon boat races outside of Asia are held in Vancouver and in Toronto, where over 125,000 spectators and participants attended the 2012 Festival.

High School Dragon Boat

Dragon boat programs have been developing and growing in high schools across Canada and has become a popular year round sport. While training has already begun for many high school teams, most competitions take place in the spring, so it’s not too late if you want to try your hand at this exhilarating sport! There are also many training and development programs that are held at local dragon boat clubs during the fall for those who wish to improve their skills further, outside of school training.

One of the larger high school competitions is the BC School Dragon Boat Championships that is usually held in late May and draws schools from all over the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to compete. The Ontario High School Boat Championships, which is held in early June and features Canada’s most competitive high schools, is another very prominent high school dragon boat competition. Local and regional high schools across Ontario compete in numerous races, with the school that accumulates the most points winning the title of Ontario Champion and awarded the Ontario High School Championship Cup. The athletes from Sir Oliver Mowat C.I. will be looking to continue their string of strong performances, after they took home the top spot in 4 different race categories.

Dragon boat is a sport where teamwork is essential; the strength of each individual paddler is not as important in achieving victory as teamwork combined with good strength to weight ratio. One avid high school dragon boater sums it up well when she says, “There’s a huge team feel. But in that, there’s so many opportunities to become a leader in the boat.” With plenty of time to go until the final races in the spring next year, there is no better time to sign up for an exciting new experience in dragon boat!

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