Water to Fire – Ode to Dragon Boat

Water to Fire - Ode to Dragon Boat
Twelve, twenty-two crew – paddle as one,
Carbon fibre or wood–their magic wands;
The drummer starts the beat,
The helm completes the feat;
All twelve, all twenty two–move like one,
Amidst rain, wind or sun.

Together they create poetry,
Lines of resolve and diligence
Stanzas of drills and practices,
Verses of pain and patience,
Perseverance in rhythmic metres,
To a song of dexterity.

Steady focus on starts.
Breathe hard, breathe in silence.

Are you ready?

Kick-start solid strokes of thirty, even forty.
Break apart, destruct fiercely,
Propel the boat. Push!

Two hundred fifty metres or five hundred premier,
Race distance does matter.
With primed muscles for endurance,
Aggression’s aflame,
One and same in goal, in persistence,
Oh, the paddlers, fearless and fierce.

Slice, shave the waters,
Discern the rhyme, feel the sliver,
Progress in synchrony;
Longer reach—be one with water,
Stronger, deeper catch,
Hard and quick to clinch the match.

Breathe properly throughout the course,
Consume the wind, accept its force;
Feel the boat’s glide, retain stability,
In middle of lane, it must remain;
Thru merged force, render the strategy,
Relive the trainings and months of mastery.

Paddle in synchrony, let the dragons fly;
With outstretched hands, make them breathe fire;
Obey its commands, hear them cry—
The dragon boats morph like flames in the sky.

Fire up the blades, burn the waters—
Burn the lakes, bays and rivers;
Whilst near to finish, the stroke rate increases,
Scream! Battle on a millisecond gap;
Claim the victory, return ashore safely,
Prepare to rest, another heat to progress.

‘Tis the journey of brave paddlers,
Soaked in water, cloaked with fire;
Such poetry of synergy,
Teamwork and bravery.

9 Dragon Boat-iquettes Every Paddler Should Observe

In dragon boating, as in life, it is essential for us paddlers to observe and be aware of the proper etiquettes of the sport. How well one behaves and carries himself during a team practice, and especially in races, speaks of the paddler’s or even the team’s character.

As we train hard to make up for a strong team, let’s also keep training ourselves towards achieving a certain decorum—the basic foundation for a harmonious, respectful and happy dragon boat community.

We have carefully chosen some of the best letterings/typographies on Instagram and other websites to go with the ‘dragon boat-iquettes’ that every dragon boater should know, observe, and, yes, live.

1. Be cheerful. Always wear a cheerful demeamour during races. That eye-blinding smile of yours may be used against your competitor, no? One cheerful mood can be infectious at the race site–spread it. It’s always a good feeling to race ‘happy’.

cheerfulradiate positive vibes

2. Be friendly. Always greet your competitors. Say, ‘Good luck!’, ‘All the best!’, ‘Have a safe race!’, ‘Go (insert team name)!’ Pump up the motivational atmosphere by giving compliments to your teammates and competitors as well. ‘Amazing performance!’, ‘Well done!’, ‘Great timing!’, ‘Good race!’

Keep GoingGood luck

3. Be generous. Share all your knowledge of the sport to the ‘newbies’. In situations where there are more paddlers, as opposed to the crew needed for a certain race/category, let the new(er) paddlers play. It’s their time to shine, so your trust and support is important to them. This has been a perennial issue for most teams, but a real respectable paddler shouldn’t grumble about such things, they should be embracing it. That’s what true athletes are.

givingbe generous

4. Be considerate. Offer to help hold the boat (your own or others’) if there’s a need or when the waves are crazy at the boat loading zone. Offer to lend a hand for other dragon boaters (teammates or otherwise) who have difficulty standing or getting out of the boat right after a heat. While it’s every paddler’s duty to take care of the team’s equipment, always help in lifting and returning the boat, as well as your team paddles and life vests to where you store them. No divas and lazy a*ses please. In all races, know where the First Aid/Medics tent and ambulance are located.

Call me dragonthrow kindness like confetti

5. Be respectful. Just be. Mutual respect is essential amongst teammates and team officers. As a team officer, you need to be impartial in fulfilling your duties and do not overstep your bounds. In carrying out team activities, don’t do everything by yourself–administer inclusivity. For teams who are sharing a complex, always ask permission when you need to borrow other team’s boats, rudders (sweep oar), trolleys, or drums. It’s also good manners to ask permission from your current team when you want to paddle with other teams.

give gainrespect

6. Be fair. Follow the Chief Starter’s instructions carefully and honestly. If he calls on your team to do one stroke forward, just do one. For straight line races, strictly stay in the middle of your lane and don’t ride on the bow wave of your competitor. That’s ‘wash riding’ and it’s not allowed under IDBF regulations. The Umpires are watching you. Never ever cheat. After all, nothing feels like winning a clean, fair game!

Hard work conquers allit feels so good

7. Be present. Show up during ‘team’ trainings. Don’t show face two weeks before your race. That’s not very cool. So long as your schedule permits, Go! And please try to be on time. When you’re racing, stay with your team and try not to roam around the race venue ALL the time.

Get out of bedWe work because -- chain reaction

8. Be polite. When there’s a need to protest or complain about a race or another team, go to your team manager first, then to the race officials. Talk calmly and keep your composure at all times. It is always great to be admired for our sportsmanship, isn’t it?

Act nice & gentleYouve got to be kind

9. Be mindful. Volunteer for any river, lake, or sea clean up activities in your area. As dragon boaters, we should be the boosters in saving the waters because it’s our ‘playground.’ And hey, let’s please clean up our space after each race. It’s not that hard, really!

Be WetClean up elves

Do you observe these Dragon Boat-iquettes?

Images: Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, Crated, Instagram, Pinterest, Pinterest, Instagram, BelindaLoveLee, Instagram, Instagram, Behance, YoureFineValentine, YoureFineValentine, Instagram, Etsy

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25 Things Only Dragon Boaters Understand

In the sport of Dragon Boat, there are several factors that teams consider when the training season begins: form, reach, synchronicity, endurance, and a whole lot more besides. It depends on the Coach’s approach or what the training managers have designed for the crew.

Dragon boat is a very tough sport, let alone the training hours. There’s water training (actual paddling), land or circuit training, and some do have pool paddle training. Oftentimes, a dragon boater’s week can be quite full (especially in prepping for races).

If you are weak, inactive, faint-hearted, or sluggish, then it may not be the right sport for you; or, on the contrary, it may be the sport that will alter your lethargy. In short, it’s a sport for everybody. It’s a sport where you will be trained to be physically and mentally tough and then become as tough like everyone in the team.

Dragon boat Festival

Furthermore to being tough (in both mind and body), and an even tougher preparation to win races, there are things that only we dragon boaters can relate to and understand. 

1. “Is dragon boat really that hard?”; “Is the boat stable?”; “Is there an alotted time to rest?” These are a few of the most common questions asked by people whom you’ve told you’re a dragon boater. We’d usually explain: “With the right amount of training and perseverance, it can’t be that hard.Their reaction:I might die in the middle of it!

Speed Boat gif

2. You become very competitive that you tend to be as quiet and focused as you can in the marshalling area. (This is where teams are being checked before being despatched to the boats.) Unknowingly, you may have employed this competitiveness in everything that you do now. Good for you!

Shut Up gif

3. You’ve imagined doing cross country paddling with your team using the dragon boat. Sure, why not?

Speed boat fast

4. Calluses and blisters on your palm, and, yes, in your asses, too. Ouch! You may want to grab a roll of athletic tape to cover the blister or to protect yourself from getting one. As for the other target of dragon boater’s blister (if we may neologise), you may need a team mate’s help to put on an adhesive film on that blister back there.

Wound palm gif

5. Some training days are just too early for you.

Getting Up Early gif

6. Your other arm is much stronger than the other. Not necessarily bigger, but definitely stronger. You’ll notice it when you lift something heavy. Things are so much lighter when you use your paddling arm.


7. You execute that first explosive stroke during starts with an imaginary paddle; at any time of the day and anywhere you may be. Sometimes you do that quick twist of your shoulder on the train, in the bus, in bed, in the grocery store, or on your way to the office. Then you do it again on your way out of the office or school.

Arm Sway

8. You are haunted by the sound of the AIR HORN. If it’s any consolation, it keeps you alert.

Air Horn

9. Why dragon boaters carry this loaf-like or sponge-like rubber-y thing with them? (While in a sitting position, there’s repeated friction and pressure as they paddle; these seat pads protect the paddler’s backside from getting a blister or scrape.)

Twerk Spongebob

10. Others may wonder: “Is that a bullet proof vest?” Be proud in sporting your personal floatation device (PFD). It will save your life.

Bullet Proof Vest

11. Most often, you have bigger and toner arms than your friends, colleagues or classmates. Only you know that in dragon boat, it’s not just about having massive arms; it’s about the perfection of form and proper breathing technique. In this sport discipline, it’s essential to have power and muscle endurance of the legs, core, arms and shoulders.

Muscles Woman

12. Synchronicity is beauty.

Synchonicity gif

13. Your favourite training shorts have scratches on the fabric at the rear. It’s the rubbing and the “twerking” movement you do in the boat. Also, you think that it doesn’t hurt to have a bright, colourful and creatively designed jersey. Think Synchronised Swimming at the Olympics.

Synchronised 2

14. Paddling offbeat. It happens when one’s timing is offbeat from the “chords” being played during the race or training. If somebody is desynchronizing in front of you, it tends to break the chain of timing up to the last pair. Be alert! Timing is key.

Off timing gif

15. When you see photos of you taken during the race and there’s only the two of you who’s not in synchrony. Well, we all get those. Do better. Perform like it’s being filmed all the time.


16. You know that sometimes, the dragon boat can either be “left heavy” or “right heavy.” The dragon boat is not a seesaw so this occurrence may slow down the glide of the boat. The solution: A skillful steersperson/helmsman must lean against the heavier side to retain the boat’s balance.

Leaning Tower

17. You have nightmares about doing the “STARTS!” You wanna give your first three to ten strokes, your most solid ever.


18. When your boat capsizes, do not panic. Stop struggling; you’ll float. Dragon boats are designed to float for a time, so keep your focus and look for your buddy (boat partner) and wait for the safety boat to come to you.

Capsize gif

19. The rotator cuff injury. Not only tennis players have this, it is quite common among dragon boaters as well. It varies on how severe the tear on one or more of your rotator cuff tendons. Better see a sports doctor or go to an Osteopath quick! For starters, avoid the affected/painful side when you lie down in bed.

Massage Cat

20. When your team makes it to the Repechage Heat as you’ve been proclaimed, “The Fastest Loser.”

Repechage gif

21. When your team qualifies to the Semi-Finals Heat and it’s back-to-back races for you in several categories. It’s your eighth race of the day, but you’ve got to do it.

Back to back races

22. You’re in a state of shock after losing the heat for only a matter of milliseconds.

What the hell gif

23. That moment of fear (or intimidation) and there’s deafening silence at the starting line.


24. That feeling when, upon reaching the finish line, your abdominal muscles feel so tight, it’s so hard to breathe. Aaaaaaaaah! You’re catching your breath so hard that you can’t even respond to your team cheer.


25. That moment when you’re paddling ahead of the other boats and you feel like flying, and you scream to victory as you cross the finish line. You also scream in your head things like: “I’m awesome!”, “My team is awesome!”, “I love my LIFE!”

Being a Dragon Boater

Do you remember how it felt like when you got your first dragon boat medal?

dragon boatdragon boat

 GIFs:  Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Medals – Charlon de Leon Mataga


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As for the graceful gymnast who broke an ankle;
Curtains down, her star forfeits its twinkle.

The enthusiastic runner with injured kneecap,
His road to finish may be up.

A Myna bird with fractured wing,
Gone are its moments of soaring.

For an archer who impaired his eyesight,
Aiming for the target is such a fright.

The dragon boat paddler with dislocated shoulder,
His cheers for his team only become louder.

Heal. Get up. Aspire. Again.

The gymnast flexes and jumps.
The runner prevails over the hump.

The Myna bird flies to explore.
The archer hits bull’s-eye once more.

The paddler sits back on the boat and play like before.

You may also like
9 Dragon Boat-iquettes Every Paddler Should Observe
The Dragon Boat Hours
30 Thoughts Every Dragon Boater Has Before The Race
10 Most Popular Dragon Boat Hashtags
POEM: Into the Dragon’s Lair
The Future of Dragon Boat
Thank you, Dragon Boat World!
8 Types of Dragon Boats You See at Races
25 Things Only Dragon Boaters Understand