Best Dragon Boat Race Venues: Dragon Boaters Report on Their Favorite Races

A few weeks ago, I asked readers about their favorite dragon boat races and festivals in terms of competition, location and venue. Here are the responses I received:

1) In your opinion, what is the best dragon boat race in terms of competition?

This question focused on the level of teams that the race attracted. Vancouver’s Rio Tinto Alcan Race (Canada) was hands-down the most popular among those who responded, followed by Toronto’s Great White North Challenge (Canada). There is no doubt that the Canadians provide some good competition! Other races that were frequently mentioned were the Lamma 500 and the Hong Kong International (both in Hong Kong). Other races suggested were Montreal (Canada), Tampa (USA), Orlando (USA), Mercer (USA), Long Beach (USA), Club Crew World Championships (last held in Ravenna, Italy 2014, will be held in Adelaide, Australia 2016), DBS Marina Regatta (Singapore), Treasure Island (San Francisco, USA) Canadian Nationals, the International Breast Cancer Participatory Challenge Festival (last held in Sarasota, Florida, USA 2014) and an honorable mention to Penny Behling and Dynamic Dragon Boat‘s Cleveland race (USA).

The "Guts and Glory" 2k race in Vancouver. Photo: Marc Applewhite

The “Guts and Glory” 2k race in Vancouver. Photo: Marc Applewhite

Photo: Lisa Leist

Tampa Dragon Boat Race. Photo: Lisa Leist

2) In your opinion, what is the best dragon boat race in terms of location?

This question focused more on the surrounding area, as a tourist destination. Once again, Vancouver, Canada took the top honors. Other common responses were Hong Kong International, San Francisco (USA), Discovery Bay (Hong Kong), the Singapore River Regatta, and Tampa (USA). Others mentioned were Marathon Key (in the Florida Keys, USA), Orlando (USA), Montreal (Canada), DBS Marina Regatta (Singapore), Puerto Rico, Toronto (Canada), Wellington (New Zealand), Albury Wodonga Bravehearts Regatta (Victoria, Australia), Montana (USA) Tempe (USA) and Penang (Malaysia)

Hong Kong International Race

Hong Kong International Race

Puerto Rico race site. Photo: Leah Varga

Puerto Rico race site. Photo: Leah Varga

3) In your opinion, what is the best dragon boat race in terms of venue?

This question focused more on the actual race site, the fairness of the lanes, the conditions of the water, the athletes’ area, etc. And once again, Vancouver, Canada came out ahead of the pack. Various races in Hong Kong were also mentioned often: Stanley International, Lamma 500, and HK International (with a disclaimer about the water conditions, but props to the organizers for running it smoothly). Other races mentioned were Puerto Rico, Montreal (Canada), DBS Marina Regatta (Singapore), Sydney International Regatta Center Penrith (Australia), San Francisco (USA), Sarasota (USA), Kelowna (Canada), Wellington (New Zealand), Orlando (USA), and Tempe (USA).


Vancouver race site. Photo: Marc Applewhite

The race site in Sarasota, FL.

The race site in Sarasota, FL.

Keep in mind that this was a small sample based on those who took the time to fill out the survey, however, it might give you and your team an idea of what race you’d like to compete at next. If you haven’t been to the Vancouver race yet, I highly suggest it (and apparently so do many others!). I was there several years ago and had a great time. The 2000m “Guts and Glory” race is impressive to participate in or to watch.

I provided links to each festival or race site when I could find them. Feel free to update me with info, if necessary.

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10 Discussion to this post

  1. Janet Wetzel says:

    I love your Blog…. How about a segment on picking team shirts?

    • paddlechica says:

      Thanks! Great idea. Are you talking more about colors, designs, style (i.e. tank vs. sleeved)? Or are you talking more about vendors? Thanks for your input and for reading the blog!

  2. Wendy Smyth says:

    WOW. Thank you to everyone who gave the Wellington Dragon Boat Festival in New Zealand a good wrap. We love having visiting teams from abroad compete in New Zealands largest dragon boat Festival. Come and join us on 5th and 6th March 2016. Its our summer. We welcome everyone from the super serious teams to the social travellers. Adults and schools racing.

  3. Wendy Rose Davison says:

    Thanks for mentioning the Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club regatta in Albury Wodonga NSW Australia Paddlechica, we are all very proud that we have International fame now.

  4. Jeff Hanson says:

    Thanks for putting Cleveland on the MAP!

  5. Jim Mac Carthy says:

    I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t add mention of my very favorite. The Canada Dry Victoria Dragonboat Festival in Victoria BC is awesome. Races run in the inner harbor in view of the Parliament building and the historic Empress hotel. Memorable town!

  6. How about Boracay – the location, the sun, the atmosphere and the infamous post race party. That’s a must for any paddler to experience at least once!

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