A Guide to the Dragon Boat Race

One of Kaohsiung’s most exciting events in June this year has to be the Dragon Boat Race during the Dragon Boat Festival.

The Chinese people celebrate one hundred and one festivals all the year round. But they reserve their most enthusiastic moments for only three of them – the lunar new year, the mid-autumn festival and the DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL.

Taiwan Today

✅ Date: Friday – Saturday, June 7 – 9
✅ Time: See Race Schedule below
✅ Location: Love River

About the Race

The race takes place annually at the Love River. There will be three categories of races this year: speed racing, traditional boat racing and tug of war. The first two categories are 400 meters in distance. There are separate races for all male, all female, and mixed teams.

Dragon Boat Types

There are three groups of racing boats and competitions.

Racing Dragon Boat

A race boat can sit 14 paddlers and 1 drummer.

Traditional Dragon Boat

A traditional boat can sit 20 paddlers, 1 drummer and 1 flag puller. A tradition boat weighs around 250 kg.

Tug of War Boat

Tug of war boat sits 6 paddlers and 1 direction corrector. The race is very similar to tug of war games where the team that pulls the other team to one side wins.

2019 Competition categories
2019 Competition date and time


Balancing a boat is essential for a race. The coach arranges seating of paddlers after careful calculation, thus having updated weight of each paddler is important. The ability of each paddler is also taken into consideration in seating.


Paddles come in all shapes and sizes. The main materials are wood, carbon and fiberglass. Below graph shows one of many paddling techniques.

graph by Darren Long

Feel the Heat

The team from the National Sun Yat-Sen University (NSYSU) and the team from the ROC Marine Corp are the favorites to win. Bless the drummer on the NSYSU team. If you watch the full video, she started losing her voice at the end, but she finished to the end…and the team WON!


Traditional boat: NSYSU Dragon Boat Team 2017 Race

ROC Marine corp

Traditional boat: ROCMC Dragon Boat Team 2015 Race

2019 Dragon Boat Race Schedule

June 7: 13:00-21:34
June 8: 08:30-11:30/ 13:40-21:30
June 9: 14:00-20:30


Within Kaohsiung Bridge and Zhongzheng Bridge

Portland Dragon Boat Race

Portland is a sister city to Kaoshiung. Interestingly, they also hold annual Dragon Boat Races. Find out more about their races here.


Dragon Boat Racing has ancient Chinese origins and its history has been traced back more than 2000 years. The first participants were superstitious Chinese villagers who celebrated the 5th day of the 5th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Racing was held to avert misfortune and encourage the rains needed for prosperity – and the object of their worship was the dragon, the dragon of Asia has traditionally been a symbol of water. It is said to rule the rivers and seas and dominate the clouds and rains. Over the years a second story was integrated to give the festival a dual meaning – the touching saga of Qu Yuan, Legend has it that poet Qu Yuan was from the kingdom of Chu after the King fell under the influence of corrupt ministers. Qu Yuan spend many years wandering the countryside and composing great poetry until, on learning of his kingdom’s defeat, he leapt into the Mi Lo River holding a great rock in a display of his heartfelt sorrow. The people loved Qu Yuan very much and raced out in their fishing boats to the middle of the river in a vain attempt to save him. They beat on drums and splashed their oars in the water, trying to keep the dragon’s away from his body.

Race the Dragon

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