UCLan staff and students attempt Dragon Boat Racing in China

The students and lecturers were put through their paces in the Guangzhou sunshine.

Students from the University of Central Lancashire participated in the local tradition of dragon boat racing on a recent trip to Guangzhou, China.

The 12 sports journalism students and two of their lecturers were taught by members at the Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Team club about the technique and skills needed to become a proficient dragon boat racer.

Following some well needed one-to-one coaching sessions and a few practice runs, the students and lecturers took part in a race against another boat.

Despite coming off second best, first year student Nathan Ridley said: “It was a really worthwhile experience. Dragon boating is a centrepiece when it comes to Chinese culture, so getting a taste of that was fantastic.”

Sports journalism course leader Steve Canavan added: “We like to encourage our students to develop an interest in a wide variety of sports, so this was certainly different.

“It was a hot day, but we all put a lot of effort into it and learned a bit about the best technique.”

Jon Hanlon, originally from Iowa, America, has lived in China for six years and is one of the members at the club.

Jon was one of several members showing the rookies the ropes.

The 42-year-old said: “We have 50-60 active paddlers and then we have another couple of hundred who are just recreational and come occasionally.

“Dragon boat racing has always been popular in China as part of the culture and as part of the dragon boat festival, but most Chinese people don’t think of it as a sport.”

The dragon boat festival is a traditional holiday in China that has been going on for over 2000 years.

Racing is one of the prominent parts of the festival, amongst other activities such as drinking realgar wine.

When discussing how he became involved in dragon boat racing, Jon said: “My friend tried to drag me along for about a year and I kept saying no, and then finally I came and I was terrible – much like your boat was pretty rough today.

“Because it was so hard and I felt I was so bad at it, it made me want to come back and get better at it.”