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Miami Overseas Chinese Association



What is Dragon Boating?

Dragon boat racing is the 2nd fastest growing outdoor sport in the world, according to Paddler magazine. It combines tradition with modern day teamwork, enthusiasm, and strategy.

How do you do Dragon Boating?

We use Hong Kong style Dragon Boats for our festival. These boats measure 40 feet in length, 4 feet in width, and carry 20 paddlers, 1 drummer, and 1 steersperson. On average, these boats weigh 500 pounds.

International Racing Standard Dragon Boat

length: 12.49 m
width: 1.16 m
weight: 250 kg + 5%
hull material: Glassfibre Reinforced Polyester
tanks / seats: 10 seats, 3 open tanks
seats: plywood
drummer's seat: plywood
material of drummer seat: plywood
material of drum holder, steering holder: plywood
joints head / tail: stainless steel
steering: wooden, made by BuK
head / tail: fibreglass / polyester, painted, made by BuK
standard-colour hull: white
standard-colour scales-application: green transfer film

Teams will race down a 250-meter and a 500-meter waterway on the day of the festival. All teams are provided with two practice sessions prior to race day.

No prior experience is necessary to race dragon boats. The important thing to have is a competitive spirit and the ability to work together as a team.

What is the purpose of the festival?

The purpose of the annual Miami International Dragon Boat Festival is to promote the sport and tradition of dragon boat racing, sharing this dramatic aspect of Asian culture with the greater Miami community. Proceeds from the Dragon Boat Festival will go towards promotion of dragon boat racing in Miami and toward charitable activities. The Dragon Boat Festival is also a way of encouraging Miamians to become more physically fit, while enjoying the outdoor opportunities of our city.


Traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth moon on the lunar calendar -- late May to mid June on the solar calendar (June 3rd this year) -- the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of the ancient patriot-poet Qu Yuan who lived from 340-278 B.C.. Qu Yuan was a minister who advocated reforms in his home state of Chu. The King refused to listen to Qu Yuan's advice and instead banished him from the state of Chu. In exile, Qu Yuan wrote poetry expressing his concern for his country and people. In 278, when Qu Yuan heard that his home had been invaded, he drowned himself in the Mi Lo River.

The people of Chu rushed to the river to rescue him. Too late to save Qu Yuan, they splashed furiously and threw zung-ze, steamed rice wrapped in reed leaf, into the river as a sacrifice to his spirit and to keep the fish from Qu Yuan's body.

Since that time, some 2,000 years ago, dragon boats are raced on rivers in China and people throw zung-ze into the river to honor the memory of Qu Yuan. Even before Qu Yuan, the fifth moon was a time of danger. With the hot and wet weather of the summer came the perils of plagues and diseases. Chinese people consider themselves to be the descendants of dragons and so during the fifth moon feel it is appropriate to paddle boats with dragon designs and make sacrifices of zung-ze to cajole the river dragons.

(Reprinted with permission of the Boston Dragon Boat Festival Committee)

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