It's time for dragon boat paddling. The sun has been greeting us for three Sundays in a row. What could be better than paddling in the sunshine, gliding along the waters of False Creek?
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team meets at 1:30pm, Sundays, at Dragon Zone – the green trailer at Creekside Park. Find us just south of Science World, above the False Creek Ferry/dragon boat docks.
We welcome experienced and new paddlers who want to incorporate both fun and fitness with a healthy dose of multicultural attitude and activities.
For 2008, we are building both and advanced and a fun/beginner team. We have a core of paddlers that have paddled 3 to 4 years, and we are adding some veterans that have paddled 8 to 16 years. We also have some new rookies who have heard about how much fun our team is, and are asking to join us.
A typical Sunday practice, starts with introduction and a warm up. This is a great way to loosen up and stretch the muscles, while learning about your team mates. Perfect for building team unity, the coach (me) also shares the goals for the practice.
We climb into the boat, and warm up with several exercises. It's always fun to feel the exileration of the boat gliding through the water under our own power. There is something primal about paddling. Just you, the paddle and the boat. Okay… and another 19 paddlers more or less hitting the water at the same time. Team bonding. Letting the other 19 paddlers pull the boat, while you grab your water bottle, adjust your hat, or your jacket. Ha!
Paddling on a dragon boat is a good way to exercise while sitting down. But we still use all our muscles in our legs, as we emphasize hip and leg drive. We rotate our torsos to facilitate a better reach. We extend our outside arms forward to grab the water, plant our paddle in the water, then pull ourselves up to the paddle.
Dragon boats have been around for more than one thousand years. But modern dragon boat racing is still very young. The International Dragon Boat Federation was founded in 1991 after teams from around the world started coming to Hong Kong during the 1970's and 1980's.
Today there are many recreational dragon boat teams all around the world. Many like our Gung Haggis Fat Choy team paddle simply for fun and fitness. There are some in Vancouver like the False Creek Racing Canoe Club that compete nationally and internationally.
This afternoon I participated in a dragon boat coaching workshop led by Kamini Jain, coach of the FCRCC. Kamini is also a two time Olympian, paddling canoes and kayaks at the Sydney and Athens Olympic games.