The Sport

What Is Dragon Boating?
A dragon boat, usually made of teak wood or fiberglass, seats 20 paddlers, a caller in front and a standing steersman in the back. The boat features ten benches and two paddlers a bench. Each paddler is responsible for working either the right or the left side of the boat. During races, teams compete for speed to cross the finish line first.

DB Diagram

20 Paddlers power the boat by rowing with precision, synchronization and power. Typically, paddlers with more strength are stationed at the back of the boat, whereas paddlers who keep better time help lead the front. Fifth and sixth bench paddlers tend to be both strong and good at keeping time so they can keep the back of the boat on beat.  

One Caller acts as a metronome for the boat and keeps all paddlers in time by either calling commands or beating a drum. The caller sits at the bow, or the front of the boat.

One Steersman stands in the back and navigates the boat in the right direction using a longer paddle. The steersman also helps keep the boat in rhythm by mimicking the caller’s commands. The steersman stands at the stern, or back of the boat.



– Crew participants are called “rowers” – Dragon Boat participants are called “paddlers”
– Eight rowers to a boat with one coxswain – Twenty paddlers to a boat with one steersman and one caller
– Rowers sit single file and each row on one side of the boat. Four rowers on the left side alternate with four rowers on the right side. – Paddlers sit two to a bench and each paddle on one side of the boat. Ten paddlers on the right simultaneously paddle with ten paddlers on the left.
– Rowers row backward – Paddlers paddle forward

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