Dragon boating is PDX's latest trend

By The Beacon | April 17, 2013 9:00pm

UP students row with other Portlanders in a community dragon boat in preparation for next season’s club. (Giovanna Solano | THE BEACON)

By Connor Snashall, Staff Writer snashall15@up.edu

When men's crew is no longer an option and women's rowing feels like a crowded shopping mall, where have some UP students turned? Dragon boating.

Many UP students who were participants in men's rowing CREW club, which ended last year will get the opportunity to row next year with a dragon boat club team which is currently accepting new members.

UP rowers are already getting started early for dragon boat club by practicing with the Wasabi Club in downtown Portland next to OMSI in preparation for next fall.

Although new to UP, dragon boating is quite an ancient sport and has been around much longer than crew. It started in China and dates back to the same era that gave birth to the first Olympics in Greece. However, it did not become recognized until the 1970s when it started in Hong Kong before coming to Canada and the West Coast.

So what is it about the sport that continues to gain people's interest? Freshman Anna Wetterer joined because she used to live in Hawaii, where she enjoyed paddling.

"I came with a friend in my hall, it was very friendly, fun and it was a great workout," Wetterer said. "I don't feel like I'm being ranked against other people who might be more athletic or better than I am. Instead it's about what I can do to better contribute to the team."

Junior Andrew Meyer was disappointed to learn UP's crew club had been disbanded this year but soon learned of dragon boating from club president, freshman James Dunbar.

"I'm really glad we didn't have crew this year actually, because [dragon boating] is much more fun," Meyer said.

With evening practice times during the week, Wetterer enjoys watching the sun set while paddling and says it's part of what makes the sport appealing.

Portland has quickly adopted dragon boating. With competitions in the Rose Festival and upwards of 100 clubs in the area, the sport is on the rise. The UP Dragon Boating club hopes for much of the same success by reaching more members of the UP community.

Dunbar, along with the rest of his club, has worked hard to spread the sport across campus and has gone out of his way to drive those interested to practices.

"We're catering to new people, even people who have no experience at all," Dunbar said.