What is Dragon Boating?

Dragon Boating is a fast and furious, paddle driven water sport that originated in China over 2000 years ago.

The modern sport sees crews of up to 20 paddlers (10 for small boats), plus a sweep and drummer, train and race in fiberglass boats with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails.

Competitions (known as regattas) are held all over the world offering international, continental, national and local competition.

Dragon Boats NSW holds several regattas each year. View the DBNSW event calendar.

If you would like to know more about Dragon Boats NSW and the clubs across the state click here.




Dragon Boat racing has a rich fabric of ancient ceremonial, ritualistic and religious traditions thus the modern competitive aspect is but one small part of the activity. The use of dragon boats for racing is believed to have originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago, in Dongting Lake and along the banks of the Chang Jiang (now called the Yangtze).

The first dragon boat races were held to commemorate Qu Yuan, the great warrior poet, who committed suicide in the river Mi Lo as a protest against the political corruption of the day. Since that time over 2000 years ago, dragon boat racing has become a major part of Chinese culture, representing patriotism and group integrity.

Traditional dragon boat racing in China coincides with the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month (varying from late May to June on the modern Gregorian Calendar). The Summer Solstice occurs around 21 June and is the reason why Chinese refer to their festival as "Duan Wu" or "Duen Ng".

The dragon itself holds a special place in Chinese culture, riding the clouds in the sky and commands the wind, mist and rain, with the head of an ox, a deer’s antlers, the mane of a horse and the body and scales of a snake.


Qu Yuan


Lunar New Year

The spirit and power of the dragon come alive in Sydney as 12-metre long boats, large enough to seat up to 20 paddlers, battle it out to the beating of drums. Each boat has an ornately carved dragon’s head at the bow and a tail at the stern, while the hull is painted with dragon scales and the paddles represent the claws.

Held annually at Darling Harbour, The Lunar New Year Dragon Boat Races are a heartstopping way to celebrate the New Year! Paddlers from all over Australia, along with a crowd of enthusiastic spectators enjoy a day filled with culture and fast paced festival racing.

Lunar New Year Eye Dotting Ceremony