Featured photo above property of Irish Dragon Boat Association, borrowed here exclusively for the purpose of spreading the gospel of paddle boating. I would have taken my own photo but I wasn’t bringing my phone anywhere near a potential splash zone. Or a potential fall-in-the-water zone.
It’s Wellness Month at work – a corporate programme designed to highlight and encourage healthy lifestyle habits. Also, the annual social event planning includes numerous events that fall into the realm of physical activity, and today was an opportunity to try Dragon Boat racing.
Imagine sitting outside on Grand Canal Square, sipping your coffee in peace and quiet, when suddenly the silence is shattered by the deep booming sound of a steady drum.
You look up and there are two long canoe-like boats streaming into your line of sight, the bow of each curving up into the shape of a dragon’s head.
No, the Vikings are not invading again. But Dragon Boating has invaded Ireland in the last decade and there are several teams, including the Plurabelle Paddlers, whose boathouse I accidentally stumbled across in the middle of my #100happydays challenge.
The Irish Dragon Boat Association is the governing body for the sport in Ireland and coordinates all of the racing done by Irish teams. They also hold corporate programmes like the one I enjoyed this evening to introduce strangers to the sport.
Now, I’ve done my fair share of rowing in my youth, or “proper rowing” as one of the organisers called it, but this was a completely different animal. There are the obvious differences – two people sit side by side, there is no rigger (onboard or outboard), you face the opposite direction, etc. But it’s the difference in movement of paddling – feeling very akin to paddling a canoe only you don’t need to switch sides.
There are also similarities – the forward thrust of the boat gliding through the water at the last part of the stroke, the whisper of the water against the hull, the splashing, the exertion. I’ve missed these. Sadly nobody in our group volunteered to be the drummer – the sight of the very narrow perch sitting so high off the water unnerved a lot of people, whereas the few who were interested in drumming were even more interested in paddling. I definitely wanted to try my had at the oar, and even though I am woefully out of shape again I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, even if our team did get thoroughly trounced by the other boat.
I may be less sanguine about it in the morning when I try to move.