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Dragon Boat Racing

By Helena

Dragon Boat Racing is colorful, hard-work, and a wonderful way to say, “Yes I can!” after breast cancer. All over the world women who are survivors in every sense of the word are demonstrating their “can do” attitude as they take part in Dragon Boat Racing.

Dragon Boat racing is part of the Chinese Culture.  Every year on the fifth day of the fifth moon of the lunar calendar, people celebrate the Duan Yang (High Noon) Festival. It is a fertility festival in which people ask for rain and a good harvest. During the festival, Dragon Boat races are take place.

The High Noon Festival is the most important festival after the New Year. In the Hunan province of China, Dragon Boats are kept in nearby temples. A couple of days before the festival, the boats are ceremonially pulled out of their storage and a Dragon Head and Tail are mounted. Offerings are made to the spirits before the boats are put into the water. The dragon is ritually awakened. A Taotic priest blesses the boat and colors the eyes of the Dragon Head as the Dragon awakens.

Today racing teams around the world use these colorful boats on many dates in heated competitions. A boat requires from 22 to 26 paddlers and each one paddles very hard as they work to the beat of a drum while racing with other similar boats.

These paddlers train year-round on land and in the boat. The teams made up of breast cancer survivors take special care in their training to accommodate the needs of the team members; however once in the race, they compete on equal footing with other boats in their division.

New groups are forming in all parts of the world and it is a wonderful way to challenge the “conventional wisdom” that after a mastectomy, or developing lymphedema, a woman must avoid strenuous activities.

Special thanks to the Spirit Abreast Dragon Boat team of Fraser Valley for permission to use information from their The Spirit Abreast web site. This site is definitely “must reading” because it contains a wealth of information, colorful photos, stories of the team members who range in age from 29 to 78, and rousing tales of their racing adventures. 

  • Also a visit to the Princeton Dragon Boating website will
    provide more information. 
  • If you are interested in starting a Dragon Boat team, you'll find helpful information at the Abreast in a Boat website. 

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Category: Living well with Lymphedema


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