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A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft traditionally made, in the Pearl River delta region of southern China - Guangdong Province, of teak wood to various designs and sizes. It is one of a family of Traditional Paddled Long Boats found throughout Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands.

Dragon boating is believed to have originated over 2,500 years ago in China. Since then, festivals and dragon boat-racing have been the basis of many water rituals and celebrations worshiping the Asian water dragon deity. Dragon boating is an important part of both ancient and modern ceremonial, ritualistic, and religious traditions.
Dragon boat racing has emerged in modern times as an international sport, beginning in Hong Kong in 1976. But the history of dragon boats in competition reaches as far back as the same era as the original games of Olympia in ancient Greece. 

The Oswego Dragon Festival:


The Oswego Dragon Festival is an event that celebrates Chinese culture and brings the community together to raise funding for the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign. The teams racing in the event come from the community of Oswego: local businesses, SUNY Oswego, and community teams. With races, vendors, music, a fun and competitive atmosphere, and activities for children, there is something here that the whole family can enjoy.


There is typically 22 people on a dragon boat during a race: one drummer, 20 paddlers, and one sweep or steerer.

The pulsation of the drum beats produced by the drummer may be considered the "heartbeat" of the dragon boat. The drummer leads the paddlers throughout a race using the rhythmic drum beat to indicate the pace of all the paddlers' strokes, slowing them down or speeding them up. The drummer may issue commands to the crew through a combination of hand signals and voice calls, and also generally exhorts the crew to perform at their peak. Good drummers should be able to match the drumming pace with the strokes of the leading pair of paddlers, rather than the other way around.

The paddlers sit facing forwards and use a paddle that is not attached to the racing watercraft in any way.  
The leading pair of paddlers, called "pacers," "strokes" or "timers," set the pace for the team. It is critical that all paddlers are synchronized. Each paddler should synchronize with the stroke or pacer on the opposite side of the boat.


Tips for Paddlers

The sweep, known also as the steersman controls the dragon boat with a sweep oar rigged at the rear of the boat, generally on the side and off centre, which is used both for ruddering as well as for sweeping the stern sidewards.

Commonly Used Terms
What to Wear/Bring

Conditioning Exercises to Prepare for Races


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