What is Dragon Boating?
Over two thousand years ago, a righteous poet and statesman named Qu Yuan was falsely accused by corrupt politicians of the Chinese kingdom of Chu. Banished from his beloved kingdom, Qu Yuan weighted his pockets with stones and waded out into the Mei Lo river to drown himself in despair. Grief-stricken fisherman took to their boats to try and save the popular hero. As they frantically searched, they beat gongs and drums, frothing the water with their paddles and throwing sticky rice dumplings, called zong zi, into the river to try to distract the hungry fish and prevent them from devouring him. Once a year during the dragon boat festival, boats once again take to the water, searching for the body of the beloved poet. Painted with dragons to scare away evil spirits, the vessels provide a constant reminder that wisdom and benevolence should always accompany authority and power.
During a typical race, crews of 20 paddle a 700 lb boat 500 meters, all to the beat of the drum and the roar of the crowd. With up to 6 boats competing at a time, the crew fastest across the line takes the honors.