Quickblade Paddles has released their first dragon boat paddle in time for the third annual Los Angeles Dragonboat Festival on Saturday, 18 Oct. at Legg Lake Park in the Whittier Narrows. The all carbon fiber paddle has been designed with a dihedral edge and is available in both fixed lengths and adjustable configurations from 46-52 inches. The Quickblade dragon boat paddle is licensed and approved by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) for competition at the international level and will suit the needs of recreational racers and competitive athletes worldwide.
The shaft on the Quickblade dragon boat paddle is constructed with the identical proprietary carbon fiber weave used in Quickblade’s highly sought after SUP and outrigger paddles giving it unrivaled strength, in addition to an extraordinary lightweight and durable construction. All models include a comfortable, ergonomic EVA foam wrapped palm grip.
“With so many paddlers crossing over from one paddling discipline to another, we have had numerous requests for a Quickblade dragon boat paddle from our existing customers,” said Quickblade Paddles founder Jim Terrell. “I am now thrilled at yet another way to make great paddles so paddlers can have more fun and go faster in a dragon boat. Dragon boat paddles have some strict specifications (by the IDBF) that have to be followed to keep them very traditional in design, however we were able to add some very hi-tech features to make our dragon boat paddle perform as the best in its class.”
“Team Quickblade looks forward to fielding a team in some dragon boat festivals in the near future,” added the four time Olympic canoeist.
The 2014 Los Angeles Dragonboat Festival is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The event is open to the public and there will be paddles and personal floatation devices available on site for newcomers. The festival’s hosts stated, “the goal is to promote and share the athletic, health, educational and social benefits of paddling throughout Greater Los Angeles and to work in concert with our community partners.” The daylong event is jointly sponsored by the International Culture Exchange Association and the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation.
Coed dragon boat teams competing in the festival consist of one drummer, one steersman and 10 paddlers, to include a minimum of four female paddlers. “The drummer is like a commander for the military unit, in charge of the entire boat’s paddlers, strokes and strategies,” said Dr. Howard Chen, one of the primary organizers of the Los Angeles Dragonboat Festival.
Dragonboat racing originated in China and boasts a long and storied history dating back several centuries. As stated by the Midwest Dragonboat club:
The origin of dragon boat racing can be traced to events that happened in southern China over 2,000 years ago. Originally, boats adorned with dragon heads were part of a fertility rite as a way to encourage plentiful rains and a good harvest.
Dragon boat racing within the context of a festival became much more important in Chinese culture with the tragic events surrounding Qu Yuan around 277 B.C. Qu was a senior minister, diplomat, and poet in the Ch’u feudal kingdom. As a man of integrity and wisdom, he gave truthful advice to the king, advice that angered his political rivals. These rivals persuaded the king to banish Qu Yuan. Despondent over his exile and the subsequent decline of the government, Qu put stones in his pocket and drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. When local fishermen raced out to rescue him, they beat their drums and splashed with their paddles to scare the fish and water dragons away from Qu Yuan’s body. They also threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the water, hoping that the fish would eat the dumplings and leave the body alone.
To commemorate their beloved Qu Yuan, the people of southern China staged dragon boat races to remember the day when they raced into the river in an attempt to save him. The dragon boat races, and the serving of rice dumplings or rice cakes, became an annual event on the fifth day of the fifth month, believed to be the day that Qu Yuan drowned in the Mi Lo River.
According to Dr. Chen, more than 70 cities across the U.S. currently host dragon boat events. “I like the history and culture of the sport,” said Eileen Schoetzow, a member of the Long Beach Masters and Team DPW in Long Beach. “I also like the teamwork involved and the opportunity to race in festivals all over the world!”
Southern California hosts a number of dragon boat racing clubs, many of which are based in and around Long Beach. “The highlight of my time as a Dragon Boat racer was competing in the 9th Annual International Dragon Boat Federation’s Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy at the beginning of September. My team was ranked in the top 10 in the world for Senior A Masters (40-49 years) in the 200m 10-man race and 15th in the world for 500m 20-man race,” said the four year veteran Schoetzow.