Designing and painting the team’s dragon boat to make it stand out

Talking and thinking about dragon boats gets me going. Whoever though a cancer survivor would adopt this as a primary pastime. It just goes to show you what resilience and drive really mean. I dedicate this blog to my follow dragon boat racers and to those new readers who will soon get, literally, on board.

There is also nothing as great as the camaraderie of a team. When you are out there together working toward a common goal, it is mind blowing. There is nothing that amps you up and motivates you as much as team effort. Working with people beats going it alone every time.

Let’s step back a moment and give some definitions. A dragon boat is human powered and is best known in China, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. There are of course many proponents around the world in places like Puerto Rico and Indonesia. It is a venerable old tradition, laden with folk customs, in which boats are often made of teak wood, although many other types have been employed. It is a family tradition in some areas of the globe and the watercraft is often described as a paddled long boat.

In competitive circles, nowadays the boats are made of light materials to enhance speed; but racing has been part of their existence from their original appearance. Official racings date back, historians say, to ancient Greece. Thus they have an illustrious history and a remarkable present as well.

Joining a dragon boat team will change your life without doubt. You will want to help your team decorate this marvelous craft as tradition requires. Each boat should be distinctive and represent the members that propel it. Recently, my group wanted to update the boat’s look and elected to use a HPLV air paint sprayer. It worked remarkably well and gave a lovely surface appearance to the boat. You can get even, lustrous color, and a smooth as silk finish. Every boat should have artisans like mine to enhance appearance. It certainly makes it stand out at festivals and other water rituals.

A dragon boat actually looks a bit like an outrigger. Only pros draw strict distinctions. And it seems like the description of the boat, anything goes as to the design of the surface. Some teams like to include sea life and related ocean symbols. Others prefer agricultural references that bespeak of ancient lands. The dragon, a mythical creature of great repute, has been the most consistent imagery. The animal is part of the Chinese Zodiac and an apt character to use, even in modern times.

The crew of a typical dragon boat consists of twenty two team members and there may be a drummer who gives the beat of the paddling to all. In effect, it is a marvelous, synchronous effect that takes place. The paddles by the way in traditional dragon boat racing are not attached to the boat and thus they are distinguished from oars or sculls.

I could go on and on about championships around the world and the excitement the sport engenders. It is still somewhat exotic in the U.S. I hope, however, that I have piqued some interest and possible future participation.