Local dragon boats join national pride paddle
Two Docklands-based dragon boat clubs are set to support a nationwide pride initiative on September 10.
CYSM Sea Dragons and the Yarra River Dragons, clubs which have paddled in Docklands for a number of years, will take to the water alongside almost 50 clubs across Australia on the day as part of a wider push to encourage participation in the sport by the local LGBTQ+ community.
The clubs will open their doors to all community members as part of the event, which will kick off from the Community Boat Hub in Docklands at 912 Collins St.
The initiative, supported by both Australian Dragon Boat Federation (AusDBF) and Dragon Boat Victoria, was focused on the LGBTQ+ community to demonstrate the inclusive nature of the unique sport.
Dragon Boat Victoria board member James Hankin told Docklands News that the competitive sporting environment was an often difficult place for some members of the community, and the clubs were keen to open their doors and show what they’re about.
“We particularly recognise that finding acceptance in competitive sport can be challenging for members of the LGBTQ+ community,” he said.
“Dragon boating in Melbourne is already well represented by the LGBTQ+ community and this event offers a great opportunity to try the sport.”
Both clubs will be on the water to give an opportunity to paddle and race in a dragon boat.
The event is free, and no experience is necessary.
“This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the inclusive nature of the sport. Dragon boat racing is great for fitness, making new friends and the opportunity to participate in competitive sport,” Mr Hankin said.
On the day, CYSM is set to kick off at 9.30am, and the Yarra River Dragons shortly after at 10am.
Australian Dragon Boat Federation director of inclusion and diversity Dr Ruth Bollard said the event was a key step for the sport.
“Over the past two years we have joined Pride in Sport and Diversity Council Australia and reached out to our community for their thoughts and experiences,” Dr Bollard said.
“Overwhelmingly, our members support diversity. Dragon boat is a sport for everyone, just as they are.”
Dragon boat racing, which is powered by dedicated teams of rowers, has ancient Chinese origins and has evolved into an international sport, with the boats being a common sight at Victoria Harbour.
Caption: Dragon Boat Victoria’s James Hankin is helping organise the pride paddle.