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Paddles Up! 10 things to know about Dragon Boating

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We’re celebrating Dragon Boat Festival on June 7 this year. Here are 10 things you need to know about the sport:

1 Dragon boating is the fastest growing team sport in the world, and there are dragon-boat clubs in over 60 countries. The International Dragon Boat Federation has governed the sport internationally since 1991.

2 The Philippine Dragon Boat Federation is leading the charge to get dragon-boat racing included in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

3 Dragon boating emerged as an international sport in Hong Kong in 1976, and this year, thousands of the world’s top dragon boaters are battling it out at the CCB (Asia) Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races in Victoria Harbour.

4 Taking place every four years, the International Breast Cancer Paddler’s Commission Dragon Boat Festival sees breast cancer survivors, who have taken to dragon boating for their post-operative rehabilitation, racing non-competitively.

5 In China, the festival honouring the dragon is held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month when the sun is at its maximum strength. Dragon boats were first used in southern China 2,500 years ago to transport warriors into battle.

6 The first London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival was organised 10 years ago by the London Chinatown Lions Club to raise funds for Chinese schools in Greater London.

7 This year, dragon-boaters across Hong Kong have pledged to ‘paddle without plastic.’ The initiative, kick-started by Green Dragons HK, sees local teams working together to make a difference to Hong Kong’s beaches and seas by eliminating single-use plastic during training and festival events.

8 All competition boats are made of double-skinned fiberglass. A 12-metre men’s boat, with a paddling team of 20, can weigh almost 2,000 kilogrammes.

9 Crews who compete internationally can paddle their boats at 20 kilometres per hour. Race lanes are 500-metres long.

10 China’s Dragon Boat Festival, which has its roots in ancient folklore, has been marked by a three-day public holiday since 2008. It’s also a public holiday in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

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