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Dragon Boat Facts

The first comprehensive book ever to be published in the world about dragon boat racing, festivals and cultural history was written by a Canadian paddler in 1996, which was the tenth anniversary of dragon boat racing in that country.

Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival, state of Florida, is the first time for a dragon boat racing event to have been presented (1998) at a major world class amusement park property, Walt Disney World.

Walgreen's Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival

October 20th, 2012-Black Sheep Marines Division A Final

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania hosted the IDBF World Championships in 2001 and since then has established an annual festival, with over 150 teams now participating. The championships and festival are held on the famous Schuylkill River rowing regatta course. The 2011 World Championships were hosted in Tampa, Florida.

The first ever European dragon boat competition was organized in Great Britain. The British National League and UK National Championships are run by the British Dragon Boat Racing Association (BDA). The championship is the culmination of a season following the National League, where 23 teams compete in a series of nine races held between May and September throughout Britain. The number of competitive paddlers in the UK is however dwarfed by the increasing number of participants taking part in charity and corporate events, often with fund raising as a secondary aim. For example, on Bewl Water in Kent, the Bewl Water Dragon Boat Festival organized by the fundraisers and dragon boat events ltd now involves around 1,200 competitors annually and in 2006 raised £165,000.

The oldest International Festival Races are those held in Hong Kong annually. The Hong Kong Tourism Bureau conducted Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) in 1976, which are acknowledged as starting the modern era of the dragon boat sport.

In 2006 under the patronage of the IDBF, the 1st World Championships for Breast Cancer Survivors - the 'Pink Paddlers' - were held in Singapore. The 2nd BCS World Championships was held in Miami, Florida, USA in July 2009, in conjunction with the World Corcom Championships.

A new Guinness World Record was created on 30th Dec 2011 for the Greatest Distance by Dragon Boat in 24 hours (relay) - 227 km. This record is currently held by the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Association.

Beijing's summer games in 2008 featured dragon boating in a couple of significant ways. (Wushu or Chinese martial arts was the 'cultural sport' at this Olympics. Note that the last 'demonstration sports' to be officially demonstrated were more than ten years ago, at the 1996 games in Atlanta.) First, the Olympic Torch was transported by dragon boat during one of the legs in Hong Kong. Second, one of the sequences in the Opening Ceremonies featured Chinese maritime achievements and included stylized dragon boat paddlers manipulating extremely tall, artistic paddles.

High profile dragon boaters include HRH Princes William and Harry, who raced dragon boat while students at Eton and HRH Princess Kate who trained as a helm for a women's crew who crossed the English Channel.

In New Zealand, Dragon boating is a popular sport for many high school students. Most schools restrict entry into the school dragon boating team for year 12 and 13 students only, as it is a physically demanding sport. Students must be proficient swimmers and able to commit to trainings. Dragon boating takes place in the first term, when the weather is most suitable, and there are regional and national dragon boating competitions.

In Europe, the largest dragon boat festival is held in Malmo, Sweden, where over 200 crews — 4,000 participants — take part in the Malmo Festival which lasts over a week. There is additionally a very active charity circuit operating on a more ad-hoc basis throughout Europe.

1996 was the first time for a team from outside Asia ever to win gold at the Hong Kong International Race, a Canadian men's crew from Toronto. Ten year's earlier a men's crew from Vancouver was the first crew from outside Asia to have earned a silver medal at the HKIR, in 1986. Canada has been successful in winning the highest honor possible in the sport several times, the biennially challenged IDBF Nation's Cup, which is awarded to the country that earns the highest medal count total at world championship regattas.