What Is Dragon Boating?

…and other great questions! Hi, we’re the AZDBA. And if you wondered who we are, what dragon boating is and what’s the huge festival on Tempe Town Lake every March then you’re in the right place.
Here are a bunch of questions with the best answers we can give. Take a few minutes to read and then ask us any more!


How did all of this start?

Let’s start with when it all started…because it was back in 278 BC (over two thousand years ago).

A poet named Qu Yuan who was born in 340 BC in Hubei, China, became disillusioned with the government and waded into the Miluo river with a rock and committed suicide. The villagers were so distraught they paddled out to his body in their boats and threw dumplings into the water to keep the fish from eating his body. And that was the start of what has become dragon boat racing.


Who does it?

Most countries in the world, in fact. From the recreational paddlers, through the weekend warriors who turn up to practice twice a week and go to races, to the US national team there is a whole spectrum of participants.

The hot spots in the US are on the west coast from San Diego to San Francisco to Portland and Vancouver, and the Philadelphia team who contribute many paddlers to the national crew. And, of course, Tempe, Arizona.

We have Mixed teams, Men’s teams, Women’s teams, young (Youth, Junior, High School) to old (Master, Senior Masters) as well as Corporate, Breast Cancer Survivors, Veterans, Disabled and Special Olympics. There’s a boat for everyone.


What is the AZDBA?

The Arizona Dragon Boat Association is the body that runs dragon boating in Arizona. We are based at Tempe Town Lake, own all those dragon boats and have many clubs that paddle with us. Specifically we are members of the Pacific Dragon Boat Association (PDBA) which is in turn a member of the United States Dragon Boat Federation (USDBF) which in turn is a member of the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF). Cool.

What’s a Dragon Boat?

It’s (usually) a ten row boat that allows twenty paddlers to paddle, with room for a drummer at the front and a steersperson at the back. We also own some ten-person boats that have just five rows and allow us to take out a smaller crew.


What’s the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival all about? It’s all right here:

When is it?

The Arizona Dragon Boat has been held around the third weekend of March since 2004. Racing is on Saturday and Sunday.

Who comes here?

Everyone is welcome, and every year sees teams from California, Texas, Oregon, Washington State, Vancouver in Canada as well as occasional special guests from Taiwan.

How many races are there?

We start at 8am on Saturday and go through to mid-afternoon on Sunday, when we get to hand out the medals.

Is it free to watch?

Yes! There’s no charge to watch the races or enjoy the other entertainment we have on the main stage. And there’s plenty of food vendors to buy Asian food from.