Emerald City Dragon Boat Club (ECDB) is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Eugene, OR. We exist to promote the sport of dragon boating for all in Lane Country. Specifically, we aim to provide dragon boating for veterans as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, possibly find some peace of mind on the water, and reconnect with their community and families. To reach this goal we host the annual Heroes 2 Oregon (H2O) Dragon Boat Paddle Challenge at Dexter Lake State Park.
This annual community event welcomes experienced paddlers and people who have never stepped foot in a dragon boat before. All the profits are dedicated to providing dragon boating for veterans and help fund the City of Eugene’s Adaptive Recreation for Veterans. Visit the H2O page to learn more about registering a team or registering as a free agent.
A Little History of Dragon Boating
Dragon Boating is a 2500-year-old Chinese tradition that found its way into modern times in 1976 when Hong Kong held its first international regatta. Dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing team water sports in the world. Thousands of people participate in various organizations and clubs in more than 60 countries. There are nearly 50 million people worldwide who currently take part annually in dragon boat races.
Present day dragon boats are similar to those raced more than two thousand years ago. Each crew in Hing Kong-style dragon boating (the most popular style) consists of 20 paddlers, one drummer and one steers-person. Teams race in a sprint along a straight course ranging from 250 to 2,000 meters. Top speed comes with a well-timed stroke of the blade—a seasoned Dragon Boat team can travel over the water at 10-13 feet per second.
Dragon Boats Come to Oregon
Dragon Boating came to Oregon in the late 1980s, as an adjunct event to the Portland Rose Festival. This race, which uses vastly different boats than Hong Kong-style races, is still held in early June as part of the annual festivities at Tom McCall Water Front Park in downtown Portland, Oregon.
Teams who came together once a year for Rose Fest, soon discovered other regional regattas to compete in, and eventually a year-round dragon boat presence was born through the establishment of DragonSports USA and later the Wasabi Paddling Club.
In 2006, members of DragonsSports USA brought an exhibition race to the Salem Multicultural Institute’s World Beat Festival, held every year at Salem’s Riverfront Park. As with the Rose Festival races, the World Beat Races quickly spawned interest in this exciting sport.
In 2007, the Salem Multicultural Institute bought a boat and established the first dragon boat club in Salem, Oregon. The World Beat Dragon Boat Club has been growing and gaining strength ever since. Teams from that club, coached by Erin Zysett, have successfully competed against some of the best teams in the world.
In 2008, another Salem club was founded, the Peace Dragon Warriors, led by Weisha Mize. In 2012, this club became the first Salem club to compete internationally when they took their women’s team to the Vancouver, BC dragon boat festival. Now, it’s Eugene’s turn. Welcome to dragon boating Emerald City.