Who We Are

Charleston Dragon Boat  Festival History

Dragon Boating, a sport that originated in China over 2000 years ago, is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Twenty paddlers sit two abreast in colorful 48-foot vessels while paddling to the beat of a drummer, the heartbeat of the dragon. In 1996, a physician at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada created the first cancer survivor team. This team, called "Abreast in a Boat", quickly proved the importance of a team physical activity for both physical and emotional well being. Just five years after the development of the original Abreast in a Boat team, over one thousand survivors have formed survivor teams. Their goal? Promoting the importance of physical wellness and psychological well-being following cancer treatment through this team-oriented outdoor support program.

There is an emerging body of research suggesting that physical activity not only has a positive effect on quality of life following a diagnosis of cancer, but may also improve survival! We also value the importance of returning to a healthy active lifestyle. Wellness and fitness programs designed for cancer survivors have recently been developed across North America, and survivors are enthusiastically participating! We are thrilled to share with your our excitement about one such program, dragon boat charleston, which can already be seen on our waterways.

Charleston, with its warm climate and scenic waterways, is a natural fit for a cancer survivor dragon boat program. We have the resources and dedication to provide the appropriately structured training program to learn how physical activity can help cancer survivors. We also believe that with the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response Dragon Boat Charleston has received from survivors and supporters, the program will continue to grow in the Charleston community.


When Dragon Boat Charleston started in 2003, only one person on the team had experienced dragon boating. With patience and expert training, we learned and improved as individuals and as a team. The following October, we raced in our first competition in Philadelphia and won 3rd place in our division.


In 2004, we competed in Victoria, British Columbia and Atlanta's Olympic venue at Lake Lanier. We are happy to report that we took 4th- and 1st place in our divisions respectively.


In 2005, we grew to two teams and traveled to compete in the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival in British Columbia and the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Atlanta. In Victoria, both teams took 4th place. In Atlanta, our Survivor Team took 1st place and our Recreation Team took 3rd place.


In 2006, we traveled to Charlotte, bringing home 3rd place medals.  After that, we took 1st-and 2nd place in Boston in the Cancer Survivor Division.  Our great summer experience was racing in the US National Dragon Boat Championship in Tampa, earning second place in the Women's Division and 3rd place in the Mixed Silver Division.  Our race season ended with a return to Atlanta, bringing home 3rd place in the Survivor Challenge.


In 2007, we began our race season by heading to Charlotte for a great day of racing.  No bling, but we had a ball and watched our 'off-spring' Charleston Surge race to win 2nd place in the festival! So proud!   In early August, we loaded up the bus and traveled to Chattanooga for their Inaugural Dragon Boat Festival.  We had 2 teams racing, winning the Cancer Survivor Division and the 'Out of Zipcode' Division.  On to Atlanta in September where we took the Cancer Survivor Championship and our Charleston Surge took 2nd place in the Recreational Division.  In October, we took over AirTran and flew to Philadelphia, the site where we first experienced a Dragon Boat Festival.  It was great fun to return.  Dragon Boat Charleston took 1st place in the Cancer Survivor Division and Charleston Surge brought home Silver medals.  What a fun year of racing we had, finishing off 2007 with 2 boating paddling in the Charleston Holiday Boat Parade.


2008 started in a blur with the winters racing by as May 3rd (Charleston's first Dragon Boat Festival) approached.  We had a ball coaching and steering for the community and corporate teams as they trained to race.  In all 50 TEAMS were registered!!  Everyone had a wonderful time with the Folly Beach Wahine's paddling away with the Championship.  At the end of June we headed to Knoxville, where our sister team CHARLESTON SURGE paddled to an exciting finish for the Gold Medal!! Over the summer a number of community teams enjoyed their 'team building' time on the water.  The Hat Ladies, Wachovia and PHC sharpened their paddling skills with plans for racing in 2009.  We returned to Atlanta in September, with DBC Survivors winning the Cancer Survivor Division Championship and 4th Place Awards.  Our sister team DBC Surge brought the Recreation Division Championship home.  We finished a great day of  paddling with a pool party at the hotel - always a favorite activity!

In October we headed to Disney World to race in their first festival.  Amtrak will never be the same.....We had a ball, came in 4th in the C Division Championship against teams from around the east coast.  The 1953 Shanghai Olympic Synchronized Swim Team had a reunion that sent hotel guest fleeing from the pool.  Such great fun!  While many of us were racing in Disney World, a number of DBC Survivor and DBC Surge ran in the Race for the Cure, with all of us contributing to take 4th place in fundraising for the event!!  Congrats Team!  We will close 2008 with the Holiday Boat Parade, lights and deco designed by first time parade paddlers, Chris and Tom.....can't wait to see it.