Dragonboat and crew-Photo by Valley Voice

What is a Dragon Boat?

Dragon boats originated in China as a way of moving goods along the rivers, which were often too shallow for other types of boats.

Traditionally, Chinese dragon boats are made from teak, but modern designs are made from glass fibre and carbon fiber reinforced polymers. These boats are a lot lighter.

Dragon boats come in two sizes, 9 metres and 12 metres, to seat 10 or 20 paddlers respectively, plus a drummer and a helm in both cases. The boats are about one metre wide, with fixed seats. Both sizes of dragon boat can be operated with smaller crews, 10 and 20 are the maximum numbers of paddlers that can be accommodated. Boats with less than a full crew go slower.

The crew sit facing forwards in pairs on the seats and paddle using a single-bladed paddle. At the front of the dragon boat sits a drummer, who beats to help keep time, increasing the tempo at signals from the helm.

The helm stands at the back of the boat with a steering oar. It is the helm who controls the crew and boat during races and who is responsible for working to and adapting any race plan that has been worked out.

What is Dragon Boat Racing?

Dragon Boat Racing is organized through clubs in most countries, with league as well as cup competitions. The clubs' members pay annual subscriptions and train on a regular basis together. Clubs will usually help any corporate dragon boat racing teams that contact them. The club gains by having more boats on the water, the corporate dragon boat racing team benefit from extra training and the help they are given by experienced club memebers.

What is Corporate Dragon Boat Racing?

Corporate dragon boat racing involves a company or organization putting together one or more dragon boat crews who compete against other corporate dragon boat racing teams at competitions and events.

How Does Corporate Dragon Boat Racing Benefit the Company?

Many companies have and continue to be involved in the sport because they have found that having a corporate dragon boat racing team is a marvellous team building exercise.

In addition there is the beneficial corporate publicity at any corporate dragon boat racing events and the improved fitness levels of employees. If staff are fitter, they take fewer days off through illness and are less likely to develop chronic and debilitating heart disease.

Is Having a Corporate Dragon Boat Racing Team Any Better Than Having a Staff Football Team?


  • Dragon boat racing competitions take place at all levels, from the club level, through to international competitions. If your employees are sufficiently motivated to want to become more involved in the sport there are countless opportunities for paddlers of all abilities.

  • Dragon boat teams contain either ten or twenty paddlers, giving great flexibility and a much greater team cohesion, with opportunities for greater employee participation.

  • Dragon boat paddling is a non-impact sport, so injuries are uncommon, unlike soccer, skiing or rugby

  • Races are of different lengths to accommodate different fitness levels amongst the members of each corporate dragon boat team. The shortest is normally 200metres. 500 metre races are common. 1000 metre and 2000 metre races may be available to test your fittest employees.

  • Anyone of any age can be in your corporate dragon boat racing team. Club teams normally range from about 11 years old up to about 60 years old

  • People with disabilities can be accommodated in your corporate dragon boat racing team. A boat with a crew half sighted and half blind paddlers crossed the English Channel a few years ago. Any activity that allows disabled employees to participate alongside able-bodied employees has got to be one that is worth a good hard look

  • The costs are very reasonable. No expensive boots or kit is required, just tee shirts, old trainers and jog pants

  • Corporate dragon boat racing gives excellent opportunities for media photographic publicity

How does My Company Become Involved With Corporate Dragon Boat Racing?

Contact one of the many companies specializing in this area. A corporate dragon boat racing event is much too big and much too specialized for your company to organize itself.

The specialist companies supply dragon boats, paddles and safety equipment. They have people who are qualified to train your staff as well as the necessary insurance. Public Address system, event control centre, computerized results display boards, qualified race officials, safety boats and medals are all supplied by the specialist corporate dragon boat racing events company. They also provide people qualified to helm each boat, as well as drummers.

Some events companies will only have the smaller, 30 foot, 10 crew member boats. Some will only have the larger 40 foot, 20 crew member boats. A few companies will have both sizes of dragon boats available, offering maximum flexibility

You may be looking for a single company event, perhaps with crews from different departments competing with each other. Internal competition between the different parts of your company can be very beneficial.

You may be looking to set up a competitive situation where your employees' corporate dragon boat racing teams compete against those from other companies. This kind of event will force people from different parts of your company to work together, bringing many benefits that carry over from the dragon boat into the work place.

The third kind of event is a charity one, where the different corporate dragon boat racing teams are all sponsored, each person contributing their own sponsorship towards a charity the team have chosen.

Your specialist event company will be able to suggest venues that are local to you. The events


may involve racing between two and six dragon boats at a time, depending on the width of the venue and on the number of competing crews.

The specialist talents of a commercial dragon boat event company essential if you are to gain the maximum benefits in terms of motivating and integrating your staff into the cohesive whole of a corporate dragon boat racing team.