Dragon boat racing is a sport that originated in China, and dates back 2000 years, or even further to the original games of Olympia in Ancient Greece. A dragon boat is a human-powered boat, and was originally made of teak, although other types of wood are also used, nowadays even carbon fibre and fibreglass. In 1979 it began as a modern international sport in Hong Kong. A racing boat consists of up to 20 paddlers, plus a drummer, who sits at the front of the boat to keep everyone in time, and the helm, who stands at the back of the boat to steer. For competitions, boats are often rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails. Dragon boat racing has a rich history in China, and many festivals are still held today to celebrate and honour the sport.
Paddlers face forwards, similar to in a canoe, and use wooden or carbon fibre paddles to power the boat through the water. Paddlers move in sync with each other, using the drummer to help keep in time.
Dragon Boat Racing is one of the most exciting, competitive team sports you can take part in on water. It is a totally inclusive team sport and features Mixed gender, Adaptive, BCS and Open crews all competing against one another. We have featured mixed gender crews for years, something that other sports are only just cottoning onto.
The River Wear received its dragon boat in 1985, donated by a Hong Kong tourist board to Durham Amateur Rowing Club, as they wanted rowers in Great Britain to participate in the World Championships.
The Three River Serpents were formed shortly after, as was the British Dragon Boating Association. Clive Hole founded the club, and was an integral part of the club right up until his death in 2021. He is fondly remembered for helming the Three River Serpents to many victories in colourful clothes and a straw boater, competing with the club in China, India, South Africa, and China.
Dragon boat racing is an excellent way to keep fit, get out in nature, and enjoy a wonderful team spirit.
The Three River Serpents pride ourselves on our sheer grit and determination, as well as our unbeatable sense of fun!