Community, Culture & Competition – You have entered the Dragon Zone!

Photo: Dragon Zone Paddling Club

From the moment I dipped my paddle into the waters of Ontario’s Algonquin Park, I was hooked! With each stroke, I travelled further away from civilization and deeper into the backcountry.  Immersing myself in the beauty of nature, it was an eye-opening and life-changing experience. From the seat of my canoe, I tested myself both physically and mentally as I battled headwinds, self-doubt and inner fears. It has been years since that first expedition, and since that time my love affair with paddling has only deepened. From kayaking to paddleboarding, if the sport involves water and a paddle you can count me in! Always searching for new, unique and challenging paddling opportunities, you can imagine my delight upon hearing the beat of the drums in False Creek!

Photo: Dragon Zone Paddling Club

You guessed it! The drumming sound could only mean one thing, Dragon Boating! Brightly coloured boats, twenty paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson working in unison, plying our local waters with pomp and circumstance. With single-minded determination, the teams paddle in perfect harmony propelling their magnificent crafts at high speeds. Does it get any better than that?

Photo: Dragon Zone Paddling Club

Tracing back more than 2000 years, Dragon Boat Racing has its roots in China. The first participants competed to avert misfortune, encourage the rains and worship the dragon. Over time, a second story evolved in which villagers raced out into the water in an attempt to save their beloved poet Qu Yuan. Today, inspired by ancient traditions, young and old take to the waters of False Creek to get a taste of the Dragon Boat experience, an experience that is equal parts culture and sport.

Photo: Dragon Zone Paddling Club

I am proud to say Vancouver is home to the Dragon Zone, Canada’s biggest multidisciplinary paddling club with dragon boat, outrigger canoe, flatwater kayak and canoe, ocean kayak, SUP, and touring canoe programs available for people of all abilities. Operating year round out of the Creekside Paddling Centre, a state of the art fully accessible, non-motorized paddling facility; the Dragon Zone Paddling Club offers something for everyone! From Learn to Paddle programs to welcoming 200 teams from around the world to compete in the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival, the Dragon Zone is the place to be! In fact, over 20,000 paddlers a year venture out on the water participating in a range of programs, including free Community Paddling Days, introductory and group paddling programs, and team training sessions.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Ready to visit the Dragon Zone?

All are welcome in the Dragon Zone, and no experience is necessary. Consider an introductory program and take your first step towards joining a team.

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