The Dragon Boat, Chinese boat on Lake Annecy

Dragon Boat is a water sport that is practiced in teams. Traditionally, a boat consists of two rows of 20 paddlers. This activity can be practised in France, on Lake Annecy, which hosts an annual Dragon Boat Festival.

Dragon Boat, a sport of Chinese origin

Dragon Boat is a sport that originated in China. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and takes its name from the dragon’s head and tail that adorn the boats. If you have already seen one from the Pâquier, you should know that a boat is 12 metres long and weighs 250 kg when empty. In total, it can accommodate 22 team members:

  • 20 paddlers, sitting in pairs on 10 benches.
  • 1 helmsman, who steers the boat.
  • 1 drummer, who sets the pace.

A sport that is good for your health

Dragon Boat is a complete sport that allows you to use the entire muscular chain. The legs, for example, transmit 20% of the energy to the boat. This water sport is regularly recommended by health professionals, particularly because it is accessible to all. Some crews are even made up entirely of women who have undergone breast cancer surgery. There are 50 of them throughout France, one of them sailing on Lake Geneva, near Thonon-les-Bains.

Dragon Boat competitions

The objective of Dragon Boat competitions is to cross the finish line before the other competitors, similar torowing. The race area is delimited by 6 marked lanes and therefore pits 6 opponents against each other. Before being able to reach the final, competitors must pass through elimination phases. Today, the official distances for the races are :

  • 200 metres for the sprint.
  • 500 metres for the sprint.
  • 2,000 metres for the long distance.

Dragon Boat in and around Annecy

Lake Annecy is well suited to Dragon Boat sailing. With a width of between 800 and 3,300 metres, it is one of the purest in Europe. This means that training early in the morning or in the evening allows you to enjoy the calm. To learn, we recommend you contact the Canoe-Kayak Club of Annecy (CKCA). The club is the leader of the discipline in France.

Lake Geneva

Lake Annecy is not the only place to go dragon boating. Lake Geneva also lends itself to the activity. There is a training camp in Divonne-les-Bains for beginners as well as for those with more experience in this discipline. As for the club, it is possible to find one in Thonon-les-Bains, the Pagaies Club Thonon.

The lakes of Savoie

Known for being the venue for major rowing competitions, Lake Aiguebelette is the last lake in the area that can host Dragon Boat. As the 7th largest natural lake in France, motor boats are not allowed on the lake, in order to preserve the local flora and fauna. Competitions are also regularly organised on the Bourget Lake, in Aix-les-Bains. The town was to have hosted the World Championships in 2020. This event was postponed due to the health crisis. For those who are curious, it is possible to find out more about the Dragon Boat from the Chambéry-Le Bourget Kayak club.

Annecy Dragon Boat Festival

Every year, Annecy hosts the Dragon Boat Festival. Teams of 12 to 16 paddlers compete on the lake, starting from the Marquisats nautical base. Organised by the Canoe-Kayak Club of Annecy and Dragon Boat Attitude, the event is the largest in France. For two days, amateur or more experienced athletes compete in races in their Chinese boats.

What equipment is needed to participate in the festival?

To participate in the Dragon Boat Festival, you need to have specific equipment with you:

  • An outfit adapted to the practice of a water sport.
  • A top of the same colour for the members of the same team.

The organisers will provide life jackets, paddles, boats and changing rooms. However, they decline all responsibility in case of theft. Training sessions are also available for teams wishing to familiarise themselves with the equipment.

The 2022 edition

festival dragon boat annecy affiche 2022The 2022 edition of the Annecy Dragon Boat Festival will be held this year on 1 and 2 October. This will be the 16th edition of this friendly event, open to all. The long distance events will take place on Saturday, while the sprint events will take place on Sunday. Refreshments and food will be available throughout the weekend, directly on site. A positive point which will allow athletes not to return to Pâquier, where the High Five Festival will be held at the same time. It is still possible to register for this aquatic competition.