Dragon Boat Terms

Bow  – Front of boat
Stern –  Back of boat
Port – Left side
Starboard –  Right side
Gunwale (gunnel) –  sides of the boat
Helm, Till or Tiller – Steersperson


Shouts encouragement and makes hand motions to ensure the team stays in synch. More experienced teams may not need a drummer to stay in synch but the drum is a part of the ancient Chinese tradition of dragon boating. The drummer is usually a lighter person who has a large voice.


There are 20 paddlers in a boat, 10 on each side who use light paddles to paddle (not row) the boat. People with good timing should be seated towards the front, so that they can set the pace for the rest of the team. Paddlers with more power should sit towards the back of the boat.


Communicates with the drummer and can change the course of the boat. The steersperson is in charge for the safety of the boat by avoiding collisions since they can see ahead. The steersperson must be able to read the direction of the wind to ensure that the boat follows the right path and also should be knowledgeable of how the boat reacts so that the boat can stay still at the start line in any condition.