Dragon Boat Races in California


Dragon Boat Races

There are over 900 members in the California Dragon Boat Association cdba.org and many competitors and participants.  From young to old, all ages can participate in the exciting water sport. All you need is a dragon boat.

Dragon Boating-  For racing events, dragon boats are always rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails and are required to carry a large drum aboard. At other times the decorative regalia is usually removed, although the drum often remains aboard for training purposes. The most common competition includes 20 paddlers per dragon boat that has a drummer and a steers person. The goal is simple: paddle to cross the finish faster than the competition. It's a team sport in its purest form that  encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization and endurance. The popularity comes from the fact that the sport can accommodate a wide spectrum of skill levels ranging from novice to competitive. Youth dragon boat races and teams over age 70 compete. It's great fun, even if you don't win.

CASTAIC: Castaic Lake Dragon Boat Festival June 4, 2022
Castaic Lake
32132 Castaic Lake Drive
Castaic, CA 91384
Held in cooperation with the County of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation 

SAN DIEGO: San Diego International Dragon Boat Race September 24-25, 2022
Mission Bay, San Diego, CA. sddbt.org/festival/
20 team races
Parking is FREE for all teams at Tecolote Shores North (Mission Bay Park). There are four public parking lots, with parking spaces available along E. Mission Bay Drive. Additional parking is also available 1/4 mile away at the fenced dirt lot near Fiesta Island (see map at right). Paddlers staying at the Hilton Resort can leave their vehicles at the hotel and walk over to the race site.

LONG BEACH: Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival  July 30-31, 2022
Time: 10 a.m.
 Marine Stadium, Long Beach, CA  lbdragonboat.com
Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival : in addition to hosting one of the largest dragon boat competitions in California, there will be Chinese traditional art demonstrations, Chinese Acrobats, traditional dance, hip hop, music and martial arts performances. Come join the fun, food and excitement. Time: 10 a.m.  Marine Stadium, Long Beach, CA.

MARINA DEL REY: March 5, 2022 Marina del Rey Dragon Boat Race

IRWINDALE: Los Angeles Dragon Boat Races TBA
The LA Dragon Boat Festival will be held at Santa Fe Dam Rec Area, Irwindale, CA. lacountydragonboatfestival.com

OAKLAND: Northern California International Dragon Boat Festival Lake Merritt TBA September
 San Francisco sfdragonboat.com
Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA
Said to be the largest dragon boat festival in the U.S., in addition to dragon boat races, the event includes vendors, foods, kids activities and entertainment all day. The California Dragon Boat Association has chosen a new location on Oakland's Lake Merritt. It's an ideal race site that will allow a continuing, world-class race run "for paddlers by paddlers" for years to come. It has new docks, calm waters and consistently great weather during the fall season.

California Dragon Boat Association

 Dates and locations are subject to change. Please check back periodically for updates: cdba.org

2019 CDBA Youth Race
Date: April 14, 2019
Location: Lake Merced, San Francisco

2019 CDBA Regional Regatta
Date: May 5, 2019
Location: Lake Merced, San Francisco

2019 CDBA Sprint Race
Date: July 7, 2019
Location: Lake Merced, San Francisco

2019 Northern California International Dragon Boat Festival
Date: September 28-29, 2019
Location: Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

2019 CDBA College Cup Championship
Date: TBD
Location: TBD


  • DragonMax is a Dragon Boat Club that practices year-round in Berkeley, California. It is sponsored by the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center (BRCC) dragonmax.org
  • LA Harbor Dragon Boat Club laharbordragonboat.org

Dragon boat racing is one of the earliest known forms of boat racing and is celebrated at festivals and races throughout the world. Californians not only race on their home shores and in California's lakes, but the more serious paddlers also compete in national and international contests.  The roots of dragon boat  racing go back over 2,000 years to the southern provinces of China.

The most popular legend that is recognized in many celebrations surrounds Qu Yuan, a scholar and advisor to the emperor of the Chu Kingdom, who jumped into the Mei Lo River in despair and protest against  government corruption. Local fishermen raced out in their boats to save him. They beat drums and pounded their paddles on the river's waters and threw rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leafs into the river to distract the fish from eating from Qu Yuan's body. Dragon boating evolved from the re-enactment of this legend at annual festivals.

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