International Dragon Boat Federation
Formation24 June 1991 (31 years ago) (1991-06-24)
TypeFederation of national associations
HeadquartersHong Kong
Region served
62 national associations
Official language
English, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese[1]
Mike Thomas
International Dragon Boat Federation
Traditional Chinese國際龍舟聯合會

The International Dragon Boat Federation (Chinese: 國際龍舟聯合會) is the international governing body for the team watersport of dragon boat racing. The Founder of the IDBF was Mike MacKeddie-Haslam (Great Britain) and the IDBF Founding Members in Hong Kong the on June 24, 1991 were Australia, China, Taiwan, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, and the United States .[2] There are currently 72 countries or territories with membership in the IDBF, with many other countries with a known interest in the sport. The IDBF is a Full Member of the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF). The IDBF is also a member of the Alliance of Independent Recognized Members of Sport (AIMS), one of four subgroups of GAISF (the other three being ASOIF, AIOWF, ARISF).

The IDBF organizes the biennial World Nations Championships (also called the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships, or WDBRC) and Club Crew World Championships. Unlike the Olympic Games, IDBF-sanctioned world-level championships do not require prior qualification at other elite-level competitions.


In the 1970s, the Hong Kong Tourist Association (now Tourist Board) decided to stage an international dragon boat festival to promote the city of Hong Kong. In 1976, the first Hong Kong International Races took place, an watershed event which is recognized today by dragon boaters worldwide as the start of the 'Modern Era' of dragon boat racing. The HKIR developed into an annual festival of enormous success and resulted in impressive press pictures, which were circulated around the world. Until the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) was formed in 1991, the HKIR were the "unofficial club crew world championships" of the sport.

Mike MacKeddie-Haslam, who in 1985 with the support of the HKTA formed the Dragon Boat Racing Club of Great Britain, had started to develop Dragon Boating in the UK as a Sport and soon generated enough Dragon Boat crews to found the British Dragon Boat Racing Association (BDA) in 1987. In 1988 Mike took a crew to the HKIR and suggested to other crew managers there that they should form an International Dragon Boat Federation. These crews went home and started their own dragon boat associations. Again with the help of the HKTA Mike and his friend Chris Hare, began to build fiberglass dragon boats in the UK and exported some to Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark to start the Sport there.

By 1990 there was enough interest from Countries in Europe for Mike H to form a European Continental Dragon Boat Federation (EDBF). Meanwhile, at international level, with the help of Robert Wilson (President of the Hong Kong Rowing Association) Mike had continued to work towards establishing an independent International Federation for the Sport, which they did in Hong Kong in 1991 with 12 Countries and Territories as the founding IDBF Members. The following year in 1992 the Asian Continental Federation (ADBF) was established.

As the first IDBF Secretary-General, Mike MacKeddie-Haslam formulated the IDBF Bye-Laws, Competition Regulations and Racing Rules as well as introducing Technical Specifications for the Dragon Boat and Dragon Boat Paddle, which were based on the traditional wooden boats and paddles used in the Hong Kong International Races. He then went on, as the President of the IDBF (from 1995) to form the African, Oceania and Pan American Continental Federations for Dragon Boat Sport. These Federations' now govern dragon boating in over 70 countries worldwide. Mike MacKeddie-Haslam retired as the IDBF President at the end of 2015 and Mike Thomas (Great Britain) was elected as IDBF President from 2016. Mike MacKeddie-Haslam was acknowledged as the Founder of the IDBF by the 2017 IDBF Members Congress, in China and by the EDBF Congress, as the EDBF Founder in 2018. Mike continues to be active in the sport as an IDBF Honorary President and the EDBF President of Honour, as well as being the BDA President.

On 17 September 2022, the International Dragon Boat Federation voted to relocate the 2023 World Dragon Boat Racing Championships to Pattaya, Thailand, from Hong Kong due to the Hong Kong government's COVID-19 restrictions.[3]


According to the IDBF website, the seven objectives of the IDBF are:[2]

  1. "To protect and maintain the Asian cultural, historical and religious traditions of Dragon Boating
  2. To promote and develop the sport of Dragon Boat Racing
  3. To ensure that the International Regattas are governed by Rules of Racing adapted to the development of the sport of Dragon Boat Racing
  4. To encourage the organization of International Regattas open to all Member Associations and their Member Clubs
  5. To establish International Championship Regattas under the titles of World Championships
  6. To maintain the principles of amateurism in all competitions according to the definition of an amateur and the rules laid down in the IDBF Rules of Racing
  7. To encourage the formation of Governing Associations in countries where none exist"


On the IDBF website, the IDBF notes that, "The IDBF shall observe the general and fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter and IOC Manual on sport and the environment."[2]

The IDBF lists the following four principles of service to its members:

  1. "To support and maintain the authority and autonomy of its Members and to promote closer links between its Members
  2. To convey to other organizations the views of its Members and to co-ordinate and protect the common interests of its Members.
  3. To collaborate, on behalf of its Members, with organization having as an objective the promotion of sport and particularly those paddle sports in which the use of the single bladed paddle is paramount. The IDBF Council may offer or countenance competitive events for watercraft, of any Design, propelled by a single blade paddle.
  4. To collect, collate and circulate information form, to and among its Members and to publish an annual Calendar of IDBF sanctioned events."

Executive committee

The IDBF Executive Committee, as of October 2019, consists of:[4]

President: Mike Thomas (Great Britain)

Senior Vice President: Raymond Ma (Hong Kong)

2nd Vice President: Matthew Smith (Canada)

3rd Vice President: Julie Doyle (Ireland)

4th Vice President: Peter Jarosi (Hungary)

5th Vice President: Fan Guangsheng (China)

General Secretary: Peter Tang Tak Seng (Macau)

Deputy General Secretary: Yu Hanqiao (China)

Treasurer: Alan Van Caubergh (Netherlands)

Deputy Treasurer: Loretta Lewis (Australia)

Competition & Technical Commission: Melanie Cantwell (Australia)

Athletes Commission: Sue Holloway (Canada)

Administrative Assistant: Jou-Chung Chang (Canada)


There are seventy-two member nations of the IDBF; classes of membership include Full Members and Basic & Associate Members.[5]

The forty-four Full Members of the IDBF are:

Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Macau, Moldova, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Reunion Island, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vietnam.

The twenty-eight Basic & Associate Members of the IDBF are:

Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, Chile, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, French Polynesia, Georgia, Greece, Guadeloupe, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, Romania.

Regional federations

There are five regional/continental federations under the IDBF. These federations govern dragon boat in their geographic areas, and organize regional/continental championships.

Commissions and sub-federations

Commissions underneath the IDBF include: Competition & Technical Commission, Medical Commission, Athlete's Commission, Women's Commission, Youth Commission, Para Commission, Sport for All Commission, Entourage Commission, Ethics Commission.

As the IDBF is the umbrella organization for all dragon boat sport, two specialized governing bodies exist underneath it: the International Breast Cancer Paddler Commission (IBCPC) and the International Ice Dragon Boat Federation (IIDBF).

Racing and competition classes

For all IDBF-sanctioned competition, teams are divided into the following racing classes by gender and age.[6]

Gender classes

Open class: no restrictions on crew composition.

Women's class: crews must be all-female.

Mixed class: a minimum of eight (8) and a maximum of ten (10) of each gender. For small boat races, the minimum is four (4) and maximum is six (6).

Age classes

All competitors must meet the age requirements by and including June 1 in a given year.[6]

Junior class A: under the age of 18 but at least 12 years old.

Junior class B: under the age of 16 but at least 12 years old.

Junior class C: under the age of 14 but at least 12 years old.

Premier: no age restrictions

Senior A: over the age of 39 (40+ class)

Senior B (Grand Dragons): over the age of 49 (50+ class)

Senior C (Great Grand Dragons): over the age of 59 (60+ class)

Boat classes

Races are divided into two boat classes:

Standard boat: 20 paddlers, one drummer, one steerer (helm), making a crew of 22 Racers.

Small boat: 10 paddlers, one drummer, one steerer (helm), making a crew of 12 Racers

Race distances

At world-level IDBF-sanctioned events, the following distances are contested:

200 or 250 meters

500 meters

1000 meters

2000 meters

World Nations Championships (WDBRC)

The IDBF hosts the World Nations Championships, also known as the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships (WDBRC), every odd-numbered year.[7] Each country fields one team per class. Athletes for these national teams are most typically chosen individually.

The IDBF Congress is also held in conjunction with each WDBRC.

A list of WDBRCs is below:[8]

Number Location Year
1 Yueyang, China 1995
2 Hong Kong 1997
3 Nottingham, England 1999
4 Philadelphia, USA 2001
5 Poznan, Poland 2003
6 Shanghai, China 2004
7 Berlin, Germany 2005
8 Sydney, Australia 2007
9 Račice, Czech Republic 2009
10 Tampa, USA 2011
11 Szeged, Hungary 2013
12 Welland, Canada 2015
13 Dianchi Lake, China & Divonne-Les-Bains, France 2017
14 Pattaya, Thailand 2019
15 Hong Kong 2021
16 Seville, Spain 2023

Club Crew World Championships (CCWC)

The IDBF hosts the Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) every even-numbered year. Unlike those competing at the WDBRC, teams at CCWC are already-established teams that represents each country in each class.

A list of CCWCs is below:[8]

Number Location Year
1 Vancouver, Canada 1996
2 Wellington, New Zealand 1998
3 Rome, Italy 2000
4 Cape Town, South Africa 2002
(5) (No event, due to SARS) 2004
5 Toronto, Canada 2006
6 Penang, Malaysia 2008
7 Macau 2010
8 Hong Kong 2012
9 Ravenna, Italy 2014
10 Adelaide, Australia 2016
11 Szeged, Hungary 2018
12 Aix-les-Bains, France 2020
13 Sarasota, USA 2022

Equipment specifications and licensing

As the global governing body of dragon boat, the IDBF determines official specifications for equipment and licenses companies to manufacture dragon boat equipment, including paddles and boats.

Licensed paddle manufacturers include: Braca Sports, Burnwater, Decathlon, Eclipse Innovations, Gray Owl, Hangzhoug Fuyang, Hornet Watersports, Kajner Sport, King Paddle, Kanoe Sports, Merlin Paddles, Trivium, Typhoon Limited, Wenzhou Yuansu Sport Co., and Zaveral Racing Equipment.

Licensed dragon boat manufacturers include: BuK, Champion, Shanghai Pei Sheng Boat Corporation, Foshen Ouyue Sports Equipment Co., Ltd, Hangzhou Rui Dragon Boat Co., Kim Tuck Huat Boat Builder, Wenzhou Yuansu Sport Co., Ltd.

See also


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "International Dragon Boat Federation - About IDBF". idbf. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  3. ^ "HK loses 2023 dragon boat championships to Thailand". Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  4. ^ "International Dragon Boat Federation - About IDBF". International Dragon Boat Federation - IDBF. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  5. ^ "International Dragon Boat Federation - IDBF Members". International Dragon Boat Federation - IDBF. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b "IDBF Competition Regulations" (PDF). International Dragon Boat Federation. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  7. ^ "International Dragon Boat Federation-IDBF CCWC & World Nations Champs". International Dragon Boat Federation - IDBF. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Info - Idbf | United States Dragon Boat Federation". Retrieved 25 October 2018.