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The History of Dragon Boat

About 2,300 years ago, a popular fellow named Qu Yuan lived in the Kingdom of Chu and served his people as the Minister of State while writing poems in his spare time. Even with his cushy government job, Qu Yuan was ultimately disturbed by the amount of corruption he saw throughout the system. As reward for his years of service and tendency to call out corrupt officials, he was eventually banished from the Kingdom.

Without a job and in deep despair over the state of his beloved country, he wandered the countryside writing poems of patriotism and love for the people. On the Chinese equivalent of May 5th, 278 B.C., Qu Yuan had decided that he’d rather commit suicide than live under such a corrupt government. He tied a large stone to himself and jumped into the Mei Lo River in what is today part of the Hunan province.

After he jumped, local witnesses frantically paddled their boats to his aid, trying to thrash the waters with their oars to scare away hungry fish who may eat him. With lifeguards in short supply, Qu Yuan was never seen alive again. In his memory, local people created a tradition of throwing dumplings called Zhong Zi into the water to appease the spirits of the river on the anniversary of his death. Part of this tradition also involved holding festive dragon boat races.

Today, dragon boat racing has spread across the world and continues to grow as a premier team sport. Dragon boat has done much more than give water athletes a new field of competition. Amongst other notable achievements, dragon boat has promoted fitness amongst breast cancer survivors, given women in Iran athletic pursuits, and fostered leadership in local Bay Area youth.

Come find out firsthand how dragon boat will change your life!

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