Tough, Ripped, And Inspiring Paddlers We Follow on Instagram

Here’s a roundup of paddlers we follow on Instagram. We intend to not say much about each of their accounts, so it’s up for you to discover and enjoy. Whether a photo’s subject is about dragon boat, food, pets, nature or themselves, their galleries show how passionate they are about paddling, fitness, and just simply loving life.

A newbie, a leisure dragon boater, a world champion–it’s an exciting mix. Take inspiration from the stories they tell through their IG; and on how they keep fit, sexy, and healthy through sports, exercise, and eating well. Some dope pointers on how to look damn hot in photos, too!

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Disfruta de la vida que es muy corta

A post shared by Raquel Marin (@raquelmariin) on

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A post shared by Josh M. Hosang 🇹🇹 (@jaaaasssshhhh) on

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Gf making sure my hair is off my face when I train. ♡

A post shared by Sin River (@dawn.of.sinister) on

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🇯🇵橫濱港🗾 🚢遊輪碼頭⚓

A post shared by MJ KO (@mj__ko) on

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#dragonboating #dragonboatfestival #yaris #zamani

A post shared by Osman Aycı ( on

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Chins❤️ #rättinibiceps #apelsinibastun #chins

A post shared by Nils Wikander Karls (@straighttothebiceps) on

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Old shirt, new hairstyle!!

A post shared by Jose Victor Lozano (@gojosevgo) on

Thank you, Dragon Boat World!

Dragon Boat Teams

This gratitude cloud graphic was generated through the search results which we have collected online. These teams are among those who have shared our articles and ‘list-icles’ about dragon boat. It’s such a delight and joy to see the massive number of shares, likes and comments about our posts and features.

A VERY VERY HUGE thanks to all the dragon boat teams, clubs, associations and federations all over the world who have been sharing our posts on their Facebook pages and on their Twitter accounts. All our dragon boat posts have now populated over 50,000 Views (and still counting minute by minute) and you are a whacking part of this success. You are the true dragon boat advocates and agents and we can not thank you enough.

As we have read your tweets, Facebook comments and blog comments, we are happy to marvel that most of you often find our posts to be entertaining, insightful, funny, and, most of all authentic. To simply put it, perhaps it’s because we are passionate dragon boaters just like you are, that’s why you can relate to us; and because of this readership and patronage, we are indeed pumped up and inspired to give you more. (Oh, and if there is anything that you need to let us know (corrections, suggestions, et al.) to help improve our blog, please feel free to do so.)

A long line of Paddle Salute also goes to the tens of thousands of dragon boaters and supporters from all across the world who have spent time to read, like, comment and share our posts about this amazing sport that we all love. THANK YOU and keep breathing fire and always let go of that inner dragon in you during the races. Paddles Up!

Can you find your team on the Gratitude Cloud Graphic? If not, we will make another one soon, so please continue to share our TOP POSTS and FEATURES.

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22 Lessons and Things You Learned from Dragon Boat

Dragon Boat

1. The first and the most essential lesson you have learned from dragon boat is synchronicity. Paddling in perfect synchrony will give your team the edge against your competitor. #fact

2. You learned that whether you win or lose in the race, the most important thing is that your team is intact; and that everyone is safe and happy to be racing together. You also learned #humility. You then #moveon and get ready for the next race lined up.

3. You have learned to always remain focused in the boat, to block the pain, breathe properly, and keep up with the stroke rate of your pacers or what you have practiced as a team for a specific race distance. #teamworkworks

4. The knowledge and skills that your Coach has imparted to you can be easily learned if you learn it by heart. The quick (and quality) development of the paddlers/crew may be one of your Coach’s measures of satisfaction. Learn the technique quickly but forget it slowly (or forget it never).

5. Apart from the physical skills you’ve learned from your President/Team Captain, you also learned that the unconditional trust and respect you have on their leadership is reflective of your commitment to the ‘team’. You appreciate their inspiring words before, during and after the races.

6. While dragon boat is a tough sport to learn and to be at, you have learned that apart from the camaraderie it fosters, there is so much to smile and laugh about (at trainings or in races). Yes, dragon boaters are tough yet fun-loving athletes, too.

7. While in your business attire, you carry a sports bag filled with a seat pad, board shorts, a team jersey, compression shorts, changing clothes, bananas, power bars, recovery drinks and other DB stuff. #innerdragon

8. When you see a boat (any boat in fact) you associate it with a dragon boat. You imagine a scenario of you paddling in it. That’s right: ‘paddling’, not rowing.

9. When you see someone carrying a paddle, you feel happy. It’s like you’ve seen a brother or a sister. (In your mind you say, ‘Keep it up, we’re in the best sport ever!’)

10. In a massage session, you will kindly instruct the masseur/masseuse to go gentle on your ass. You mean your fresh blister from training or race.

11. After each heat (and you’re still panting), it is a joy for you to cheer and shake hands with other teams in the embarkation area. That’s real sportsmanship!

12. Majority of the content in your laundry basket are clothes made with Dri-Fit fabric. You have several batches of those week after week after week.

13. Flip-flops are considered to be ‘very formal’ footwear in the ‘dragon boat culture’.

14. You know a fellow paddler when the shoulders and the upper limbs are suntanned. When naked, there’s a visible tan line in the shape of a jersey or a sports bra for ladies. Yeah, the dragon boater’s legs are two-toned too.

15. After paddling, all your stresses are gone (or at least eased up). On the contrary, if you can not paddle because you have classes or you need to work or travel, you are stressed.

16. Your weekends are spent in the water. You’d like to have more sleep but you need to show up on time for practice. It taught you #discipline.

17. You have saved on gym membership as the land trainings alone already make you too shattered. If you have a gym membership, you might have not visited for a long time or you’re not utilising the monthly fee being charged on your credit card.

18. You instantly know what to do when you hear the command: ‘Brace the boat!’ or ‘Brace! Brace! Brace!’

19. You know that the command ‘Hold water!’ means that you do not actually hold the water with your hands. You hold your paddle perpendicular to the water to stop the glide of the boat.

20. In your email ending or personal email signature, you would use ‘Paddles Up!’ instead of ‘All the best!’ or ‘Yours faithfully’. It actually means to signal the paddlers to get ready to paddle or to assume the catch position.

21. Carb-loading. You have learned that it is important to start carbohydrate loading, 3 or 4 days before and in the morning the actual race. Experts say, “it’s good to have a small portion of carbs for about 3 to 4 hours before the race.”

22. It is normal to feel a little bit nervous before the race (not scared, because there is nothing to be scared about). That nervous feeling has taught you how to be brave. You know that it goes away right after your first heat. #TrueStory

Dragon Boat

These are only 22 of the things and lessons you have learned as a dragon boater; surely, you have a tale or two to tell about your own paddling life. We chose to list down 22 as this number significantly represents the Standard Racing Boat or DB22, which is composed of a minimum of eighteen and a maximum of twenty paddlers, one steersperson and one drummer.

Dragon Boat

Another integral lesson that dragon boat as a competitive pursuit or as a recreational hobby¹ has taught the crew (paddlers, drummers, steerspersons), is to not resort into any threat of violence or actual physical violence² at any period of a race or a regatta. Dragon boaters know that this can be grounds for disqualification of a crew or everyone involved.

Dragon Boat

Finally, everything you need to know about dragon boat: its history, bye-laws, competition regulations, rules of racing, calendar of international races, et cetera, can be found here:

¹ “Technical Definitions,” IDBF Bye-Laws Edition 6 (2012): p6
² “IDBF Disciplinary Code,” Rules & Regulations (2014): p3

Photos: Kelvin Pao
Race & Venue: Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival, Boracay Island, Philippines

30 Thoughts Every Dragon Boater Has Before The Race

The paddling season just passed by so quickly. Let’s repeat that for emphasis: Each paddling season passes by oh-so-quickly! You’ll be surprised that you’re actually down to your final two or three races for the year.

After weeks and months of practice with your team, there comes the judgement weekend—Dragon Boat Race weekend! And then, before you know it, another race is coming right up again. It becomes a vicious cycle!

Sometimes these series of races would fall in two or even three consecutive weekends. You’d usually blurt out: “Bring it!” For the love of the sport, you must compete. You mustn’t let the team down, they say. (Well, only if you are physically fit to race though. The Chief Boat Marshall will be checking on you.)

Baptism of Fire

For first time racers, you can’t believe that your baptismal dragon boat race is over. Everything happened so fast. You’ve championed it! One fine day, you were just learning how to hold a paddle properly and it was just your first time in the bumpy dragon boat. After that first race, you are now looking forward to the next one. Yes, you are and that’s normal. Welcome to the amazing world of Dragon Boating!

Why Dragon Boat?

As Dragon Boaters, here are the things that go through your brains before the race.

The Night Before

1. I should sleep early. Wait, I need to set the alarm. Then you check again if it’s set.
2. Is my team singlet/kit clean? Which bag do I bring? Where are my sunscreen lotions and potions? You just think of anything frivolous to get psyched up!
3. Are my other gears ready? (E.g. cap, seat pad, life-vest, training gloves, compression shorts; For the ladies: favourite earrings, lucky sports bra, or that charmed lipstick shade)
4. Where’s my paddle? Before going to bed, you put it somewhere near the bed or you let it stand at a corner visible to you. You. Are. Normal.
5. You hold your paddle once more and execute several proper strokes. Your mouth is open.
6. Should I bring food? What snacks are good to share to my team?
7. I have exams on Monday. I will just bring my notes and readings.
8. We have some work issues to solve in the office. I will call them in between races.
9. I hope someone brings a GoPro. Who is taking pictures? Who will take a video of the heats?
10. I should really be sleeping now. It’s late and you’re still looking for your lucky bracelet or anklet.
11. While already in bed, you try to imagine the heats and the intense starts.
12. You need to remember to remind yourself to breathe.
13. As you attempt to close your eyes, you imagine your team in the boat and it makes you nervous.
14. You mentally simulate a race. You get more excited. You’re nervous again.
15. You can not sleep just yet. It’s already 1am or even 2am.

The Next Morning

16. Will I be late? How do I get to the race site fastest?
17. Is everything inside my bag? Just have to wear your race ID lest you forget it.
18. Did I forget something? Sunscreen? SPF200? SPF500? (Those are the race distances.) Team drinking shirt? Favourite sports cologne? Have I fed the cat? Has the baby-sitter confirmed?
19. It just happens to have NO taxis at all in the morning of the races. Always! The buses are ultra slow!
20. Will there be coffee at the race site?
21. I can’t find my team’s tent / location.
22. I need to find our Coach or Team Captain or Race Manager. I need to stay motivated. AND.. I am getting nervous.
23. I need to locate where the toilets are. I am nervous. What the..?
24. You just arrived at the race site and it makes you more nervous seeing other teams. Especially teams that are already warming up!
25. Wait, what’s my position in the boat? No matter, I need to perform my best!
26. What time is my first heat? Which boat or category am I in? You’re a little panicky now. You should really chill.
27. We need to warm up really well. I need to really focus, that’s the job of my Captain.
28. I must push my teammates. At this point, you’re now doing more positive self-talk. Yeah, like a crazy person.
29. Forget the exam. Although you rely on stock knowledge, try to review during breaks.
30. Forget office work or that big presentation for now. Keep mobile phone open. I really should focus on the race and I hope I won’t be thrown in the ice box cooler later. Oh darn it! Focus. Focus. Focus.

These are few of the sudden thoughts (and silent jibber-jabbers) that come across a dragon boater’s mind the night before and the next morning before the races; and trust me, there are a lot more besides. (You have thought of one just now. Share it!)

We are just grateful for our Race Managers and our Coaches for making our lives a lot easier during races. We need not think of other bigger things like the crew composition, changes in crew, addition of crew, et cetera. All they wanted for us is to remain focused on the race and that’s our only job, really.

You Can’t Do It Alone

We just have to focus, to race our hearts out, fight to the finish and just live the moment. Apart from winning medals and cups, the greatest victory and success of a team is the kind of bond and unity that you have formed—how you’ve worked hard with your trainers, the respect you have for each teammate, and, most of all, the faith and trust you have to everyone in the boat.

As you train your body hard, please know that you’re also training your mind harder. Now, let’s get back to team practice!


The Author has been paddling for 18 years now and is still enjoying the fun and profundity of dragon boat paddling. A former President & Team Captain, an IDBF International Race Official and now part of the National Sports Authority’s Management Committee which oversees the Dragon Boat National Team and over a hundred twenty affiliate teams.

Photo Credit: Kelvin Pao

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