Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival

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The Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival is an annual event featuring twenty-person rowing crews who propel their crafts down the Schuylkill in a full day of river racing. The 2015 event was set for Saturday, October 3.

Dragon Boat Racing

The Festival organization describes it this way:

The world's fastest growing water sport is also the most exciting. Twenty paddlers move in unison, combining strength with teamwork in a boat whose elaborate design originates in ancient China. Dragon Boat Racing is a great sport for men and women of all ages and abilities. Anyone can do it and have fun!

Teamwork is everything in Dragon Boat Racing. Synchronicity is more important than strength. A perfectly synchronized team will almost always beat a stronger, but less coordinated team.

A team consists of a maximum of 20 paddlers, with a steersperson (cox) and a drummer. Teams entering the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival must have a mixed crew with a minimum of 8 female paddlers in the boat.

The drummer sits at the bow or front of the boat on a wooden seat. He or she will assist in setting the timing for the team by keying off the two paddlers at the front of the boat better known as the stroke. A good drummer can be a valuable asset to a team. Essentially they are the heartbeat of the dragon and could be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration during the race.

The steersperson stands at the back of the boat and steers the crew with a long oar. He or she is the captain of the dragon boat. When a decision concerning the safety of the crew is required, it is the steersperson who makes it. He or she will consult with the drummer and/or team captain, but the steersperson has the final word on the water.

Editor's Note

This page is posted in fond memory of Pete Kiliani, a former staffer at Nonprofit Technology Resources who was very involved with this festival. ~PaulSank