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Dragon Boat Paddle Review

We get it. You are in a university full of competitive paddlers all aiming for that number one prize and you want to prove yourself as well as make mom and dad proud. To help you achieve this, we are going to go deep into what could be the best dragon boat paddle you will need.

Things You Need To Consider

Carbon Made Dragon Paddle

Dragon boat paddling can reach war-like tempo. So keep in mind that light materials may not deliver the performance you want in the heat of battle. Carbon generally gives better performance when it comes to the actual pace.

Paddle Shape

Paddle shape can affect speed as the shape is responsible for pushing the water in different pace. Slow or fast depending on conditions, you have to choose the shape to match. The best suggestion, is make sure it should be 1-piece between the shaft and blade with no-gap junction which actually makes it look like an oval shaft. The sharper the edge, the better.

Size Matters

You could be of a different height and like any sports, there are certain size adjustments that you’ll need to make. A strong grip can give you better confidence, which can can help you with the mental battles we all face – especially when fatigued.  AMany people tend to prefer a 125 cm long paddle, but it depends on your preferences.


Do not be like one of those guys that want to just show off when you see a very cool shaped paddle in a shop, but it ends up breaking after one use, leaving you with egg on your face. As mentioned, go for carbon quality and I am sure you’ll fare much better come race time.

Top Paddle Picks

Burnwater Reactor II Full Carbon Fiber Dragon Boat Paddle, Carbon T-handle

100% Carbon fiber w/ 2×2 twill blade and shaft 370-390 grams (13.05-13.75 ounces) Seamless one piece blade/shaft construction Clean entry tip, Reinforced tip and edges IDBF PS202a Certified Made in the USA. It is available on Amazon.

Gladiator Silver Adjustable Paddle

– IDBF Approved (Spec 202a #3361)
– Adjustable between 45 and 51 inches
– 1 Year Product Warranty
– Blade Material: Carbon
– Shaft Material: Carbon
– Shaft Shape: Round
– Handle: T-Handle
– Weight: 360 grams

ZRE Dragon Z

– Faster, lighter and stronger
– High quality performance
– Best build quality

This video shows a review on ZRE Dragon Z.

Which One Should I Buy

The answer to this question is ultimately going to be based on personal preferences.  Other elements to bear in mind when considering your paddle purchase are:

– Switching seats, especially if you’ve been moved in/out of seat 1
– Changing to a different stroke (shorter and faster strokes generally require shorter paddles)
– Changing water level (an open boat sits lower in the water than a mixed boat, and you may need to adjust your paddle length accordingly)

Hope this helps you narrow your search. Let us know which paddle you’ve chosen in the comments below.

Dragon Boat Paddling – When You Can’t Fill a Boat

Dragon boat paddling is the ultimate team sport. To get the best results, you need to synchronize everyone’s timing and technique. This is why team training is essential for dragon boat paddlers. But I know you will agree with me when I say sometimes it’s hard to get the team together. Some members may be sick or unable to attend the training for some reason or maybe it’s just the off-season.

Whichever reason is behind it, if you can’t fill a boat, you can’t have team training. Fortunately, there are other activities you can take up to stay in shape. Let’s take a look at several exercise alternatives for dragon boat paddlers.


Canoeing is your best option for paddling without a team. I believe this is the closest you can get to dragon boat paddling and you don’t even need a single partner. Popular Mechanics shrewdly observed that it is like somebody gave you a backstage pass to all river sloughs and lake coves that had been unduly overlooked. I concur. I think people that go on an adventure with a canoe see a lot of wildlife. After all, when you paddle by yourself, you can’t reach high speeds, so you can find time to notice the landscape. Aside from that, you will have an opportunity to spend time with yourself and clear your head and thoughts.

You can control your speed when canoeing. However, remember that with harder paddling, the chance that you will steer off course increases. The newbies and those who find themselves in a canoe for the first time will find it tricky to keep a straight line at first. The more experienced among you shouldn’t have trouble with controlling the canoe.

Don’t forget that there is a special solo canoe on the market. This type is balanced differently than a regular canoe and is a great option for lone travelers. It is a bit expensive, which is why you can consider the following cheaper alternative.


Upper body is the powerhouse of every dragon boat paddler. Each time you turn the kayak, you use core muscles, which will in time build this area. Believe it or not, you can make around 500 strokes per mile when kayaking, according to Kayak Lake Mead.

Remember not to shirk but try to make as many repetitive strokes as possible. This will put your back, stomach, chest and arm muscles to work. The good news is that statistics says that it’s enough to go three miles per hour to make 1500 repetitions. This is more than an adequate amount to tone up your muscles and prepare for the following race.

Kayaking will also be of great use to your heart health. It is like any other cardiovascular exercise, so you can also use it to get rid of those few extra pounds you gained during the holidays. The peace of mind and the natural setting will be fruitful for your mental health, too. I can’t tell you how many times I went kayaking when I was nervous. It is a great stress reliever.

Standup Paddle Boarding

I think surf lovers are going to enjoy this one. If you haven’t heard of standup paddle boarding, it’s a kind of surfing where you don’t sit until a wave comes. Instead, you are standing on your board and propelling yourself through the water with your paddle. It might be tricky at first, but it’s extremely fun! Men’s Fitness supports this claim, stating that this is the fastest growing water sport in the world.

Stand up paddle boarding is a full-body workout. The main task is to maintain your balance. This means that your legs are put to the test, as well as abdominal and back muscles. Arms, shoulder and back muscles are also used to propel through the water.

There are even inflatable paddle boards that you can roll up and take with you. According to Pump Paddle Boards, inflatable SUPs rival hard SUPs in most performance departments. This is perfect for keeping up your “paddle fitness” whilst on vacation or if you just want to mix up your routine.

This is also a great exercise if you are recovering from an injury. Paddle boarding is gentle to your ligaments and tendons. If you’re recuperating from leg or back injuries, it is a great way to keep your strength.

Indoor Rowing Machines

Now that we mentioned all outdoor activities let’s move indoors. Rowing machines are just as the name suggests – machines designed to mimic rowing moves. They present an ideal substitute during the winter or when you are far from the water (perhaps on a business trip in another city). You exercise by pulling the handle towards your body, while the seat slides away from and toward the flywheel.

Indoor rowing machines are low impact, which means it doesn’t stress your knees and hips, making it suitable for people of all ages. I suggest this exercise for keeping your upper body strength level up, but it is also a great cardio workout. There are several workout programs for increasing your endurance, such as these great routines.

Other Gym Exercises

Visiting the gym or exercising on a regular basis is essential to keep your body in shape. Don’t forget that dragon boat paddlers need to have a formidable total body condition to be competitive.

Here is a great YouTube video of the dragon boat exercises you can do.

As you can see, this mixture is a quick, all-around workout to keep your body in shape. You need little space for the exercises, but some of them require a bar or a flex band. If you don’t have them ,a simple towel will also do.

Here are my suggestions for other exercises, depending on the muscle groups:

· Legs and hips–rear foot elevated split squats, front or box squats

· Core muscles – pall of presses, RKC planks

· Upper back – deadlifts, barbell high bench row (my favorite!), chin ups

The goal of these exercises is to increase strength and endurance while focusing on the symmetry of your body. This is something to keep in mind if you decide to add other workouts to your routine since you wouldn’t want one side of your body to be more developed than the other.

I believe these alternatives are all you need to paddle without a team. They will ensure that you stay in shape and surprise the teammates with your progress at your next training. What are you waiting for? Start exercising, prepare for the following season and show how important part of the team you are!

Dragon Boat Paddling Technique

The paddling techniques are quite simple for a beginner to master. Dragon boat paddling places you in a strange position since you have to paddle using only one side of your body, pull the water instead of pushing it and keep the stroke up in front of you. The main elements of the dragon boat paddling techniques include: Reach, Catch, pull and Finish. Let us explore more on each element

1. Reach

With the reach technique, you just need to reach as far forward as possible; that is beyond the person who is in front of you. Don’t worry about hitting them, since they ought to be doing the same things, hence they should be away from your position. The bottom (outboard) arms should punch forward, straight and lie flat along the boat edge(gunwale), your top arm should be high and stable, and your elbow should be above your head and the top hand over the boat side ready for the catch.
The most important tip
Your back is supposed to be leaning forward away from the hips and in a rotated position so that your chest can face inward towards your partner with your top hand placed over the water. Curved like a puffadder, all set with full powers by sitting up straight and strong and by uncoiling. Regardless of how strong your arms should b, your back is stronger. Remember that your eyes should be on stroke pair, and you should not watch your paddle.


For the drive stroke, your top hand should hammer the blade deeper into the water, ahead of pull-through. For you to experience powerful strokes, your blade needs to penetrate deep giving you more water to help you pull. Ensure that the blade is closer to the side of the boat and buried completely so that it can create little cavitation during pull-through.

3.The Pull

Once you have submerged the paddle, the next step is the pull phase. The paddles are supposed to pull back and directly parallel with your boat. Your top hand should stabilize the paddles as your back muscles, and bottom arm pulls back. For the paddler to use back muscles stronger, he or she should sit up while pulling and then continue to move the paddle in a downward position with the top hand. Maximum endurance and power come from using large muscles of shoulders, trunk, and back instead of relying on arm smaller muscles.

4. Exit or Finish

As you end the stroke, the paddle exits the water at your hip. If you let the stroke go past the hip, you make paddling blade to position itself in an angle that slows the boat. The outside arm should bend a little allowing the paddler clear the water and then snap forward.
To determine the stroke rate bring your boat to recovery speed and let your muscles rest.

How Dragon Boat Paddling Became Popular in the US

Dragon Boats have been around for over 2000 years. Ancient China was deeply entrenched in Dragon culture with the boats being used for religious ceremonies. Today the culture has evolved into a sport that has taken America by storm. This is how that came to be.

Development of Dragon Boat Racing

Chinese boat makers began producing ornately carved boats fitted with a dragon’s head, tail, scales and paddles representing the claws. These boats were then used in community festivals where 18-20 peddlers, a steer, and a drummer would compete against each other. The elders believed that the sport promoted teamwork, strength, endurance and thus promoted it to the greater China.

The First International Dragon Boat Festival

In 1970 the Hong Kong Tourist decided that they needed to host a festival to promote their city, little did they know that dragon boats were the real beneficiaries of their efforts. Soon afterwards the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) was formed and the sport gained some structure. This allowed race organizers to start Dragon Boats Festivals in the United States.

Adoption by American-Asian Communities.

Asian-Americans who had migrated to the U.S found that dragon boat racing created a gateway for the younger generation to participate in Chinese culture. They introduced the sport at almost all their cultural events and spread the festivals to cities such as Houston which did not have a large Asian demographic.

Dragon Boat Festivals in Major American Cities.

By 1991 almost 50 major American cities had a recognized dragon boat festival. These festivals broke the stigma that the sport was only restricted to Asians. It also led to American boat makers getting into the dragon boat making business as they saw that the sport was feasible for families and competitive gaming.


Dragon Boat racing slowly began to be included in fitness regimes. Many physical education teachers and enthusiasts began introducing the sport to groups who wanted to work-out together. They also liked how the sport combined strength training and cardio making further improving its reputation. Analysts of the sport expect that advantage will take the sport to even more Americans.

Competitive Dragon Boat Racing

The IDBF has created a year-long season for professional dragon boat racing crews and many countries are now participating. The sport had been nominated to be included at the 2016 Olympic Games but the committee passed over it. The Dragon Boat racing World Championships in Adelaide were a success though and that should give the sport more promotion and hence, even more growth.

Image provided by sf.funcheaxp.com