Dragon Boating. It’s a thing. A thing I’ve been rather obsessed with for almost a year now. How did I get involved in this thing you ask? Well, it started with a monkey; a four foot paper mache monkey to be precise.
In Tacoma we have a little celebration called the Tacoma Moon Festival. It’s based on a Chinese mid-autumn holiday that’s meant to mark the end of summer and autumn’s equinox when the moon is a big fat beautiful dumpling in the sky. Anyway, they asked some local artists to create four foot paper mache animal figures based on the Chinese zodiac signs. I picked a monkey and that monkey ended up strapped to the front of a dragon boat! When I had my picture taken with the team they gave my husband and I their business card and we started practicing with them.
I was hooked pretty much instantly.
Not everyone knows what a dragon boat is, so here’s a crash course. There are different kinds of boats, but the most common is a 45 foot fiberglass one with ten benches that hold twenty people. There is a steers person that stands up in the back, and during races a person who sits in the front (facing the paddlers) with a large drum. During races there is a ceremonial dragon head mounted to the front and a dragon tail on the back.
The first time I sat in a dragon boat I knew it was my thing. Five minutes into my first practice I thought I was going to die. I’m a cubicle dweller during the day and my arms are like a T-Rex (not useful for activities not called typing). I could not keep the paddle in the water for more than five minutes. I rested all the time. No one cared. The amazing thing for me (as a non-sporty gal) was watching those minutes increase. Every time I got in the boat I could keep my paddle in a few more minutes. I had small goals; stay in till the bridge, stay in till the change, don’t quit. Don’t quit.
My teammates range in age from college kids to an 82 year old. That 82 year old is a bad ass. He paddles in a fedora. I’ve been paddling for ten months now and can do an hour and a half without pulling out. My first racing season is in two weeks. I am so excited. Don’t quit.