Every week at Lake Wheeler, the Raleigh Dragon Boating Club (RDBC) meets to practice. There are 20 paddlers on average as well as a captain who steers and calls cadence. The RDBC recently won a Dragon Boat racing competition in Oriental, NC.
Dragon Boating is one of the more obscure sports in America, although it is very popular in China and some parts of Canada. To picture the sport imagine a boat about 30 feet long, with 20 people sitting in the boat and paddling. The captain usually sits in the back to steer. There can also be a drummer that sits in the front to keep time, although some teams only use the drum during races.
I attended the race in Oriental as a spectator because my dad is part of the team. It was so much fun. Everybody there was so friendly and excited. There were a total of 15 teams who competed in groups of two. Each team set up a couple of tents and decorated them. After the races was an award ceremony. Teams won based on ranking, team spirit, and creativity of tent decorations.
Rod Tomas has been with the RDBC since it started last February.
“I grew up in Florida, and I’ve always liked the outdoors, and I’ve always liked the water so the fact that it’s a water sport is a huge thing for me. That fact that it is something that is unique, not many people know about is something that I really love,” said Rod.
The practices are much more strenuous then one might think. Usually to paddle, only the arms are used, but in dragon boating nearly all muscles are used. At the end of practice people all have sore pecs, triceps, deltoids, quadriceps, and hamstrings are all sore. For those of you that don’t speak muscle that’s upper body, upper are, shoulder, and front and back of the upper leg.
The uniqueness of the sport is the main draw for most people. It’s a conversation starter. The other big draw is that it’s a team sport, but you don’t really need any athletic talent. It is very physical and it takes a lot of strength. The people who paddle on a regular basis build up a fair
“It’s very technical and methodical all at the same time. It takes, like, a lot of stamina and it’s pretty hard to do over a long period of time,” said Hai Burk.
The lesson on how to paddle is lengthy and technical, but that does not deter anybody. Those who participate on a regular basis are very devoted to the team.
“It’s the perfect sport. Physical, unique, and it takes a team. I’ll do it as long a there is a team,” said Mark Jolleys.