Outdoor Journal

Dragon’s tale: For the first time this September, the annual Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad will offer dragon-boat racing as part of its sanctioned activities.

You may have no idea what a dragon boat is, but if the idea is in the least bit intriguing, you’re invited to Lake Lure on Thursday, Aug. 21, and Friday, Aug. 22, when the nonprofit club, Lake Lure Dragon Boat Racing, will sponsor practice camps for the unique sport.

On hand will be certified steer people, whose expert guidance can mean the difference between dragon success and dragon failure. Would-be dragon-boat teams must register ahead of time for the camp, at a cost of $99 for each team. Sessions will run each day from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. and 7 to 8:15 p.m.

No need to haul your own dragon boat to the Rocky Broad River; Lake Lure Dragon Boat Racing owns four of the flat-bottom, 30-foot-long boats, each of which is adorned with a dragon’s head and tail, to say nothing of the scales scattered along their sides. Boats, equipment and steer people are provided; teams need only to bring their brawn and a sporting attitude. (Teams consist of 11 people, including 10 paddlers and a drummer, who uses a drum to synchronize the paddling.)

In what was believed to be the first such event in Western North Carolina, the Lure of the Dragons race in May drew 22 teams from three states, more than 260 paddlers and 2,000 spectators. The next race is scheduled for May 16, 2009.

For more information and to register for the dragon-boat racing camp, call 980-8838.

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