World’s Fastest Growing Water Sport

World’s Fastest Growing Water Sport


Start paddling folks!

UCO Chambers Library staff members are participating in a Dragon Boat race during the SandRidge Energy Stars and Stripes River Festival June 28 on the Oklahoma River.

“It has been a lot of fun. We really enjoyed it,” said Ona Britton-Spears, coordinator of reference and instruction at Chambers Library.

The team of ten people, mostly librarians with friends and spouses, is competing for the first time and they are thankful for the opportunity.

Jean Longo, Dragon Boat team captain and instructional services librarian at Chambers Library, always had a passion for sailing and dreamed about having a Dragon Boat team in Oklahoma City.

“I think it was one of her goals to do this. She really wanted to do one here, and she tried last year but we couldn’t get enough people together for that time period. This year she was able to get enough,” Ona Britton-Spears said.

The water sport has roots in an ancient ritual of contending villages, being held for over 2,000 years throughout China. The oversized canoe has a dragon head and tail, with people paddling to the beat of the drum.

The crew of a standard Dragon Boat is usually 22, with 20 paddlers in pairs facing towards the boat, one drummer and one steersman facing the rear of the boat.

Drummers are the “heartbeat” of the dragon boat, having a tactical and ceremonial role. They lead paddlers using a rhythmic drum beat to indicate the frequency of all paddlers’ stroke.

Dragon Boat racing is traditionally part of an annual festival in China and other East Asian countries: Singapore, Malaysia and Riau Island.  The festival is called Duawu Ng and it takes place on the fifth of the lunar calendar.

In Oklahoma, the dragon Boat race takes place in April and June.

The dedicated Dragon Boat team from UCO practices every Saturday morning at the Oklahoma River. Even though the team knows they will have adverse competition, they hope to get into the top eight in the first hour of the competition.

For more information, visit 

Share This