The World Dragon Boat Championships are being held in Welland this week, and it’s brought the sport’s highest level athletes into our own backyard. But dragon boating isn’t all about competition. It’s a very accessible sport that welcomes people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you just want to paddle once a week or stroke your way to the top.
In high level competition, dragon boats can reach up to 18 kilometres an hour. Even with a crew of pure muscle, paddling at that pace for 2000 metres is gruelling. Paddlers at the world dragon boat racing championships in Welland are the best of the best from 18 different countries. It takes years to reach this level of competition, but the dragon boat community says anyone can participate at their own pace. The sport doesn’t discriminated by age. The youngest competitor in the event is just twelve years old. The oldest is 82 years young.
“It’s very accessible” says Executive Director Chloe Greenhalgh “you don’t have to go and buy anything. If you want to give it a try, you just turn up, you get into somebody else’s boat, you get handed a paddle and you get handed a life jacket and away you go.”
Most dragon boat racing clubs, including Lively Dragon at Hamilton’s Bayfront park, welcome participants of any fitness level to try.
The basic stroke is easy to learn and you get a full body work out by pushing off with your leg muscles. Fans of the sport say its versatility is one of its greatest assets. You can stick to a slower pace, or work your way to the world championships.
If you want to check out the best in dragon boat racing, the World Championships are on until Sunday.