As the heartbeat of the boat grows faster, the rowing pairs start to sweat, easing their boat past the paddlers and kayakers out for an evening adventure. They don’t even look back as you stare on, certain you’ve sneaked a peek at an ancient ritual.
One dedicated paddler, Judy Robertson, heard about dragon boating in 2005. She was organizing a youth conference for Communities in Action for Peace, teaching young people how to get along with one another and resolve conflicts. She quickly learned dragon boating was the ideal activity for such cooperation. The sport requires absolute unison from paddlers, who must move in synch or risk slowing the boat down (hence the drum to keep the pulse). Something magical happens when all 20 paddlers move as one, even coordinating their breath. Robertson says, “Once I stepped into the boat to accompany them, I was hooked!” She convinced her husband to jump in a dragon boat, too, and the couple has spent most Thursday evenings since then out on the water with the Paddlefish.