If paddling to the beat of a drum floats your boat then you’d be crazy not to check out Shorncliffe’s newest watersports addition, dragon boat racing club the Xiang Dragons.
Head coach of the Xiang Dragons Bruce Eckersley and wife Jenny Urquhart have a long history with the sport, both on a local and international level.
“I have been involved with dragon boat racing for 17 years, coaching and paddling for Queensland,” he says.
“Jenny has been at it for six years. She has been selected in the Australian Team and is heading off to China to compete in the Internationals.
“To help grow the sport there is nothing more exciting than for Jenny and I to introduce it to the local community.”
But what exactly is dragon boat racing and is there actually any fire breathing involved?
“Dragon boats have ancient Chinese origins and date back more than 2000 years,” Bruce says.
“The race is carried out in clearly marked lanes, usually eight, to complete the distance in the shortest possible time, over 500m or 200m.
“There are two classes that compete in this discipline, 10-seater and 20-seater, referring to the number of paddlers in the boat.
“ Paddlers sit in twos side-by-side and use a single-bladed paddle. Both classes will also have a drummer and a steerperson, with everybody in the boat paddling to the rhythm of the drum.”
Bruce says the club will cover off men’s, women’s and mixed divisions, with classes starting from juniors (12-17 years) and going right through to Masters C (60 years old and over).
“People can expect a very friendly atmosphere to help them experience how to paddle in a dragon boat,” he says.
“We cater for all people’s goals where they can choose to be a social paddler, medium level competitor or highly competitive paddler.
“Generally, when people take that first step and go for their first paddle, we can’t keep them out of the boat.”
Training session will take place at 95 Allpass Parade, Shorncliffe, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7pm, and on Sunday from 8-9am.
For more information on dragon boat racing, the different grades and upcoming competitions, phone Bruce on 0429 466 885 or Jenny on 0430 497 552.