“Never laugh at live dragons.”
Today, the colourful Dragonboats raced across False Creek, Vancouver, to the unrelenting sound of beating drums. They are continuing a tradition that has roots dating back over 2000 years to ancient folk and religious rituals of Chinese villagers. Legend has it that the genesis of the Dragonboat Race was when Qu Yuan, a patriotic Chinese poet, during the Warring States period (476 – 221 BC) plunged into the Milou River to protest bureaucratic dishonesty. The local citizens, who had great respect for Qu Yuan, paddled their boats out into the river where he had disappeared. For more than 20 centuries, China has had an annual dragon race, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month which occurs in either late May or early June.
In 1976, Hong Kong transformed the institution into an international sporting event. The Dragonboats, made of wood or fibreglass, weigh in at about 650 to 800 pounds. They hold between 10 – 21 people, mostly paddlers, along with a steersman, a drummer, and a flag catcher. They skim over the water with an elegance of the ancient Chinese dragon.
“And what lesson can we draw from Volantene history?
If you want to conquer the world, you best have dragons.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons