Dragon Boat Competition
From Issue: Volume XX - Number 14
One of the largest dragon boat competitions in California will be held the last weekend of July in the Long Beach Marine Stadium for its 16th year in a row.
The Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival will feature more than 220 teams in 31 divisions. Among them will be 11 college teams and 18 high school teams. Some of the national and international teams expected are from Arizona, Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, Australia, Canada and China. There will also be some local universities participating as well as a disabled childrens team and a breast cancer team.
Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese water sport that commemorates the life and death of poet Qu Yuan after he committed suicide in the Miluo River and the people of his home state Chu mounted their fishing boats to try to save his body. This act transformed into the dragon boat racing tradition held annually on the day of his suicide.
“Originally it started as a festival, then they developed the sport and I found out by myself that this was a very good community and competition sport,” said Dr. Howard Chen, the founder of the Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival and president since 2000. “I hadn’t seen too many sports combined with a cultural aspect and this had very traditional Chinese culture. Plus, this sport is very unique from other sports.”
Dragon boat racing combines men and women together in teams on boats that fit 20-22 people, and have an age range from eight to 80 years old. Age is not an issue, if you work hard you can win, Chen said.
Dragon boat racing is also known as a green sport because there is no electricity needed. Groups provide all the equipment for the people who join.
“The dragon boating experience varies with each team, but overall I’d like to say it’s a unique experience,” said Allan Nguyen, paddler of the Space Dragons team competing this year. “You’re a lot closer to nature, and you rely more on the power of your own body to move you around as opposed to wheels or any kind of technology.”
The admission to the festival is free and will have a line dance before the race, acrobats, kung fu performances, Hawaiian dancers, a Japanese taiko drum presentation and a magician.