The Sport

The Sport of Dragon Boat Racing

The standard crew of a contemporary dragon boat consists of about twenty paddlers (who sit in pairs facing the front – or bow – of the boat), a drummer or caller (who sits at the bow facing the paddlers), and a sweep (who stands at the rear – or stern – of the boat).

The sweep, or steersperson, uses a long oar to steer the boat, while the paddlers provide its propulsion. The drummer may be considered the heartbeat of the dragon boat, and leads the crew throughout a race with the rhythmic beating of a drum to indicate the cadence of paddling strokes: the paddlers attempt to make their strokes in unison, as synchronous paddling produces greater acceleration and speed.

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