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History of Dragon Boating  


The Past:  Dragon Boat Racing dates back over 2000 years to the Chinese legend of Chu Yuan, a 4th-century statesman, poet, and advisor to the king.  Chu Yuan was exiled from the ancient state of Chu after his advice to the king was misinterpreted as an attempt to assume greater political power.  Chu Yuan was banished to a remote area of Hunan Province in southern China.  The dishonor of being exiled was a heavy burden on Chu Yuan.  Under the weight of his sorrow, he threw himself into the torrents of the Milou River.  Local fishermen raced out onto the water to save Chu Yuan.  The fishermen wildly beat their drums and splashed the water with their paddles to prevent the water dragons and fish from eating Cu Yuan.  

The modern Dragon Boat Race is based on a traditional re-enactment of the race to save Chu Yuan.  Over the centuries, village fishing boats went out annually in a symbolic search and those races evolved into Dragon Boat Racing’s present form. 

The Present:  Today, Dragon Boat Racing is one of the fastest-growing water sports in the world.  The World Championships of Dragon Boat Racing have been held annually in Hong Kong since 1976.  The International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) based in Hong Kong, boasts member organizations in 75 countries.   

Within a relatively short period of time North America has emerged as an international Dragon Boat Racing powerhouse.  What’s most exciting is the growth of the sport at the grassroots level.  Dragon Boat Racing is great fun for anyone, young or old.  Participants of any level of fitness can quickly adapt to and develop a passion for this sport.   


Dragon Boat Racing and the Positive Effects on Breast Cancer Survivors 

In 1996, Dr. Donald McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine specialist at the University of British Columbia, started a dragon boat team for women with a history of breast cancer.  The team Abreast in a Boat tested the belief that this activity would benefit breast cancer survivors by providing upper body activity in a challenging and supportive environment.   Dr. McKenzie strove to dispel the myth that women who have undergone breast cancer treatment should refrain from repetitive, upper body exercise for fear of developing chronic lymphedema - a permanent and sometimes incapacitating swelling of the arm and chest area that can develop any time after lymph node surgery and radiation treatment. 

Breast cancer survivor dragon boat teams caught on in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, England, Italy, Poland, the United States and many other countries.  The International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC) encouraged the formation of breast cancer survivor teams and now international festivals and competitions take place around the world.  Members of Machestic Dragons have competed in the International Festival in Canada, Australia, USA and Italy… far! 


The Machestic Dragons' team philosophy is based on the research conducted by Dr. McKenzie.  Dragon boating is a strenuous, repetitive, upper body exercise that increases flexibility, aerobic capacity and strength.  It’s an opportunity to work in a group and projects a visible, positive message to all with breast cancer. This team sport builds harmony, self-esteem and it is an exhilarating experience.  

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