Two weeks ago I was invited by a friend to take part in an annual dragon boat competition on the river in Osaka City. The competition is pretty big and teams come from around the world to compete in it. Almost all of the teams are serious about the sport and the competition, but the team that I was a part of just does it for fun and doesn’t do any practice. I got the feeling that most of the other teams probably practice all year long and the race is a big deal to them. For us it was just a reason to get together do something fun and then have a BBQ party in the park after the race was over.
A dragon boat is like a really long skinny canoe with two rows of 9 people paddling plus a leader in the front with a big drum to establish the paddling rhythm and a person in the back to steer the rudder (20 people total). The hardest part about it is making sure that everyone is rowing together in the same rhythm. Our team had a lot of big strong people but since we never practiced our stride was off and we couldn’t do very well. The really good teams looked like a many armed beast rowing in perfect unison. Even though we came in last in our heat the race was a really cool experience and the BBQ in the park after was tons of fun.
If you are wondering why they are called dragon boats you can see in the picture below that there is a dragon head at the front of the boat and a tail on the back.