One Day Only
August 24, 2019

According to legend, Dragon Boat racing originated in China more than 2,300 years ago. Chinese history describes the fourth century B.C. as the Warring States period; a time of shifting alliances and treachery.

The patriot and poet Qu Yuan championed political reform and truth as essential to a healthy state. The King, who had fallen under the influence of corrupt ministers, banished his most loyal counselor, Qu Yuan, from the kingdom.

Left to wander the countryside, Qu Yuan composed some of China’s greatest poetry expressing his fervent love and loyalty for his country, and his deep concern for its future. Upon learning of his kingdom’s devastation at the hands of a rival kingdom, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Mei Lo River in a ritual protest.

The people loved Qu Yuan. They 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 paddles in the water, trying to keep the fish from his body and ward off evil spirits. To honor his soul and ensure it didn’t go hungry, they scattered rice into the water.

Eventually dragon boat races became the cultural tradition to mark the anniversary of Qu Yuan’s death – primarily a form of amusement and fun, while also highlighting the history of this colorful event. The Modern Era of Dragon Boat racing began in 1976 during the first Hong Kong International. The sport debuted in the U.S. in the early ‘80s. Now in more than 100 cities, every year people come together to pay tribute to this fallen statesman by paddling to the beat of their own drum.

The traditional dotting of the Dragon’s eye before dragon boat racing awakens the dragon and unleashes its fire, giving boats and their crews the strength of the dragon.

Paddles Up!

Location: Wheeling Heritage Port   12th & Water Street Wheeling, WV  

8:00 am:   Opening Ceremony
                  Group picture of all teams
8:15 am:   First heat of teams to Marshaling Area
8:30 am:   Race starts (Round 1)
10:30 am: Round 2 of Racing
12:00 pm: Lunch break
                  Steerer Auction
12:40 pm: First Heat in Final Round to Marshaling Area
1:00 pm:   Final Rounds begin
2:00 pm:   Award Ceremony 
                  Overall Winners for Top 3 Teams &
                  Division Winners 

Practices will run from Wednesday August 21st through Friday August 23rd. Each team will sign up for a 1 hour on-water practice where you will learn technique of paddling, commands and safety. It is important to have your team present for practice!

Each team will compete in two races in the morning. The course is 250 meters long and you will be paddling against the river’s current. The top 12 teams advance to the final heats that begin about 1 pm.

Before Practices and Race Day:

  • Get prepared by hydrating and exercising in advance. Keep in mind this is an anaerobic sport. Hydration is very important.
  • Be prepared for rigorous exercise.
  • Before your practice session, you should know you WILL get wet.
  • Please bring water into the boats at your practice and stay hydrated during the session.
  • Practices and races will happen rain or shine. Lightning and other severe weather will delay practices or races.
  • Learn more about dragon boat racing at

What to wear:

Dri-fit shirts and shorts
Sandals w/straps, water shoes, (Tevas, Crocs, etc.)
Sunscreen/Sunglasses/hat with visor
Consider bringing a towel and extra change of clothes


Register your team of colleagues, friends, church members, civic organization leaders, clients, or anyone willing to take up the challenge of seeking the title of Grand Champion! Get on the Boat. Make waves!

The Team – You’ll need 20 paddlers and a drummer to keep the beat of the stroke. Of the 20 paddlers, eight MUST be women or your team will receive a 3 second time penalty. You may have up to 24 on your team, allowing up to three alternates. One experienced steerer/coach is provided. Don’t forget to give your team a name!

Team Captain – The team captain leads the effort to recruit the team and keep them informed about race information.

Team Co-Captain – The team co-captain helps and supports the captain. The team captain may assign the co-captain certain tasks to help with the process.

Registration Fee – $1,250 per team

Date – August 24, 2019

Team Benefits – On-water practice session, at least two heats on race day, company/team name on the website, team announcements on race day, unique team building experience, and a community event that grows in popularity each year.