The legend of Qu Yuan
The traditions of this spectacular sport reach back 2,300 years to China when Qu Yuan, a respected sage and Court official to the Royal Kingdom of Chu advised his Emperor of the evil and corruption he saw everywhere and demanded that something must be done to bring and end to this wickedness.
Alas, the corruption and court intrigues were so deeply entrenched that instead, Qu Yuan was banished. After many years of wandering, he settled in a fishing village by the Mei Lo River in Hunan province where the fishermen and villagers came to hold him in high esteem for his, integrity, wisdom, honesty and kindness.
Qu Yuan eventually learned that his former beloved province had fallen into anarchy and civil war with death and destruction everywhere. Deeply distressed and unable to bear the sorrow, he went down to the river with a large stone tied to his body and threw himself into the water on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in the year 278 BC.
On learning of Qu Yuan’s final act of despair the fishermen, shocked and grief stricken rushed to their boats and paddled furiously out to try to save Qu Yuan, beating drums, thrashing the water and throwing "Tsung Tze" or “Ma Chang” dumplings into the river to prevent the fish from devouring his body and to appease the spirits of the deep, all to no avail.
On returning to shore, the dejected fishermen decided that if they had been better paddlers the outcome could have been different, and thus they began to train. From this humble beginning dragon boat racing is now acknowledged to be the largest and fastest growing sport in the world today.