Dragon Boat racing originated from China over 2000 years ago. It is a fantastic team sport which incorporates 20 paddlers, one sweep (standing at the back and steering) and one drummer (sitting on the front beating a drum to keep time). Races range from 200m sprints to 2000m. World class teams can cover a 200m course in 40 secs, 500m in 1:50 min and 2000m in 8 mins. That equates to a team paddling at an average of 16 km/h for a 200m race.
The front two paddlers are called the strokes, and they set the pace for the rest of the crew to follow. The middle of the boat is called the engine room and these paddlers sit lower in the water and provide much of the power in the boat. The key to a quick race is for all paddlers to keep in time, timing is more important than speed or power.
Race events are called regattas and typically 3 - 4 boats race in a straight line on a race course. This may be in open water or on a river or lake. Boats start a race from a standing position. The first strokes are long and strong to get the boat up out the water, then the next set of strokes are fast to build speed. Cardio fitness is extremely important so that the team can keep the fast pace for the duration of the race.