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IN SYNC! Get Ready to Paddle

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In the lead up to DB Dragon Boat Race Day on October 24th (rescheduled due to bad weather), Rachel Sadler checks in at Lantau Boat Club to discuss dragon boating – and the wider sport of outrigger canoeing
PHOTOS BY Richard Gordon – www.richardgordonphotography.com

OUTRIGGER CANOEING TRAINING runs year-round at the Lantau Boat Club (LBC) Paddling Section, whereas dragon boat training is more seasonal with training starting early in the year, and races held in May and June. This year, with most of the dragon boat races postponed until the autumn, DB Dragon Boat Race Day and Carnival is being held on October 24.

Fitness dragon boat 1

LBC PADDLERS TRAIN MULTIPLE TIMES PER WEEK. They focus on short distance races in the first half of the year and the signature long distance races in September, October and November.

THE LBC PIRATES COMMUNITY DRAGON BOAT TEAM formed in March. The merger – between the LBC and DB Pirates dragon boat teams – has proved hugely successful, with LBC Pirates already enjoying gold and bronze success in this season’s races.

Fitness dragon boat 2

OUTRIGGER CANOEING AND DRAGON BOATING are both great team sports. The team needs to be in sync, regardless if there are six or 20 paddlers in a boat. For outrigger canoeing, you paddle on both sides, but for dragon boating you paddle on one side only. The main secret is that the team works as one – one team, one stroke, one heart, one spirit.

OUTRIGGER RACES VARY IN LENGTH and endurance is paramount particularly with the long-distance races (up to 45-kilometres). Towards the end of a race, when paddlers are feeling fatigued, they need to dig deep to keep the team spirit alive. A typical six-person outrigger canoe (with a buoyancy support attached to the left side) weighs around 180 kilogrammes, so it takes strength and teamwork even to get it in and out of the water.

fitness dragon boat 5

PADDLING IS A VERY GOOD FULL-BODY WORKOUT with the strength for a powerful stroke coming from your core and legs. The amount of training paddlers put in before a race really counts, winning comes down to a mix of technique, fitness level, endurance and perfect teamwork.

DRAGON BOAT RACES ARE A SPRINT – they can be as short as 200 metres – so everyone goes full power for two minutes, give or take. Crews who compete internationally can paddle their boats at 20 kilometres per hour; a 12-metre,fiberglass men’s boat, with a paddling team of 20, can weigh almost 2,000 kilogrammes.

Fitness dragon boat 4

OUTRIGGER CANOES WERE A MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD for the ancient Polynesians long before Captain Cook landed on Hawaii’s shores. Huge outriggers, built to hold dozens of people, enabled long journeys across the Pacific in search of new
land. Today, in addition to the international races, you can still find fisherman using six-man outrigger canoes in Polynesia.

DRAGON BOATS WERE FIRST USED in southern China 2,500 years ago to transport warriors into battle. Ancient traditions are upheld in races to this day – the boat is blessed and awakened before 20 paddlers plus the drummer and steerer take to the water for a sprint finish.

Lantau Boat Club (LBC) offers sailing, rowing and diverse paddling opportunities to its members.The LBC Paddling Section is always looking for new recruits to train year-round with its outrigger canoe teams and the newly formed LBC Pirates dragon boat team. The club aims to provide paddling for youth in the near future. To find out more, email [email protected] or [email protected].

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