One of the fastest growing water sports in the world has arrived in Beaufort. It’s dragon boat racing, which originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. The first international dragon boat races were held in Hong Kong in 1976 to promote tourism. The fever quickly spread. Some statistics report nearly 50 million dragon boaters in China. There are now more than 90,000 in Canada and the USA, and dragon boat racing is spreading to every continent. Deeply embedded in China’s dragon culture, each boat has an ornately carved dragon’s head at the bow and a tail at the stern. The hull is painted with the dragon’s scales. The paddles symbolically represent the claws. Dragons were traditionally believed to be the rulers of rivers, lakes and seas, dominating the clouds, mists and rains from heaven. A dragon boat team consists of 20 paddlers seated two abreast, a helmsman, who steers the boat from the rear, and a drummer who sits at the front to pound out the cadence for synchronized stroking.