Best Dragon Boat Race Venues | Dragon Boaters Report on Their Favorite Races

Posted by Kristin Stickels on

A few weeks ago, I asked readers about their favorite dragon boat races and festivals in terms of competition, location and venue. Here are the responses I received:


1) In your opinion, what is the best dragon boat race in terms of competition?

This question focused on the level of teams that the race attracted. Vancouver’s Rio Tinto Alcan Race (Canada) was hands-down the most popular among those who responded, followed by Toronto’s Great White North Challenge (Canada). There is no doubt that the Canadians provide some good competition! Other races that were frequently mentioned were the Lamma 500 and the Hong Kong International (both in Hong Kong). Other races suggested were Montreal (Canada), Tampa (USA), Orlando (USA), Mercer (USA), Long Beach (USA), Club Crew World Championships (last held in Ravenna, Italy 2014, will be held in Adelaide, Australia 2016), DBS Marina Regatta (Singapore), Treasure Island (San Francisco, USA) Canadian Nationals, the International Breast Cancer Participatory Challenge Festival (last held in Sarasota, Florida, USA 2014) and an honorable mention to Penny Behling and Dynamic Dragon Boat‘s Cleveland race (USA).


The "Guts and Glory" 2k race in Vancouver. Photo: Marc Applewhite

The “Guts and Glory” 2k race in Vancouver. Photo: Marc Applewhite


Photo: Lisa Leist

Tampa Dragon Boat Race. Photo: Lisa Leist


2) In your opinion, what is the best dragon boat race in terms of location?

This question focused more on the surrounding area, as a tourist destination. Once again, Vancouver, Canada took the top honors. Other common responses were Hong Kong International, San Francisco (USA), Discovery Bay (Hong Kong), the Singapore River Regatta, and Tampa (USA). Others mentioned were Marathon Key (in the Florida Keys, USA), Orlando (USA), Montreal (Canada), DBS Marina Regatta (Singapore), Puerto Rico, Toronto (Canada), Wellington (New Zealand), Albury Wodonga Bravehearts Regatta(Victoria, Australia), Montana (USA) Tempe (USA) and Penang (Malaysia)


Hong Kong International Race

Hong Kong International Race


Puerto Rico race site. Photo: Leah Varga

Puerto Rico race site. Photo: Leah Varga


3) In your opinion, what is the best dragon boat race in terms of venue?

This question focused more on the actual race site, the fairness of the lanes, the conditions of the water, the athletes’ area, etc. And once again, Vancouver, Canada came out ahead of the pack. Various races in Hong Kong were also mentioned often: Stanley International, Lamma 500, and HK International (with a disclaimer about the water conditions, but props to the organizers for running it smoothly). Other races mentioned were Puerto Rico, Montreal (Canada), DBS Marina Regatta (Singapore), Sydney International Regatta Center Penrith (Australia), San Francisco (USA), Sarasota (USA),Kelowna (Canada), Wellington (New Zealand), Orlando (USA), and Tempe (USA).



Vancouver race site. Photo: Marc Applewhite


The race site in Sarasota, FL.

The race site in Sarasota, FL.


Keep in mind that this was a small sample based on those who took the time to fill out the survey, however, it might give you and your team an idea of what race you’d like to compete at next. If you haven’t been to the Vancouver race yet, I highly suggest it (and apparently so do many others!). I was there several years ago and had a great time. The 2000m “Guts and Glory” race is impressive to participate in or to watch.

I provided links to each festival or race site when I could find them. Feel free to update me with info, if necessary.

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Kristin Stickels is a three-time Team USA member of the US National Dragon Boat Racing Team. She is the coach of the Miami team Puff, the Florida Tarpons women's team and the local Breast Cancer Survivors' Team (SOS).

She is also an avid outrigger canoe paddler and raced through the Panama Canal on a native cayuco boat from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


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