Skip to main content

Dragon Boating


(Published March 2016, last reviewed 2021 with no updates)

What is Dragon Boating?

The use of a large, 10 or 20 person (plus helm and drummer), craft to travel over water through the use of paddles. A dragon boat is steered via a single, stern mounted, steering oar and will often include a drummer whose role is to keep those paddling in time. Dragon boats are highly decorated including a dragon’s head at the front and tail at the back. They are mainly used for racing.

What is a Dragon Boating permit?

The adventurous activity permit scheme is designed to ensure that only people with the relevant skills and experience lead adventurous activities for the young people. Therefore all activities classed as adventurous can only be led by someone holding the appropriate permit.

A Dragon Boating permit is required for all Dragon Boating taking place except in class C water. Definitions of water classifications can be found in POR.

Levels of permit

Dragon Boating permits can be issued for any class of water. Each class of permit can be further restricted (such as through venue, size of craft etc.) to end up with an individual permit to the level of   the   competence and requirements of an Applicant.

Types of permit

There are two types of permit available for Dragon Boating. These are:

Leadership – Allows the permit holder to lead Dragon Boating for a single boat.

Supervisory – Allows the permit holder to remotely supervise more than one Dragon Boat.

Permit limitations

Leadership – If you have a permit to lead Dragon Boating activities then you will need to be in the Dragon Boat at all times.

Supervisory – If you hold a permit to supervise Dragon Boating then you can supervise up to three boats. All supervised boats should be within communication range of the permit holder who will need to be in or have immediate access to a rescue craft (this may be another Dragon Boat). You remain responsible for all the groups you are supervising, but can designate someone with the appropriate skills to be the leader of each boat.


When supervising other boats the holder of a Dragon Boating supervisor permit needs to designate a leader for each boat. This designation lasts only for the current activity while the permit holder is supervising.

People designated as boat leaders should have the necessary skills and be responsible enough to control the boat safely in the waters that they are in. There is no problem with making young people boat leaders if they are up to the role, and it can be used as a useful development tool.

Rules relating to dragon boating

Rule 9.7 Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme

Rule 9.8 Adult Groups Undertaking Activities

Rule 9.13.1 Water Activities - General

Rule 9.13.2 Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids

Rule 9.13.3 Classification of Waters

Rule 9.13.4 Activities on Class C Waters

Rule 9.13.5 Boats

Rule 9.13.6 Charter Vessels

General activity rules

Rule 9.1 All Activities

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors