How to Choose a Dragon Paddle


How to size your Dragon Boat paddle

  1. If you have broader than average shoulders, go to the high end of the range.
  2. If you have a longer torso than average for your height, go to the high end of the range. 
  3. Where you sit in the boat can affect the size you choose. Some paddlers prefer a shorter paddle in the front, for example.
  4. IDBF Regulations limit paddle lengths to within the range of 42-51"
  5. KIALOA offers Dragon paddles in half sizes as well, eg. 46.5, 47.5.
  6. Talk to your coach for advice and, remember, these are general guidelines so please take into account your personal preferences.
  7. For more information, Double Fifth has a very detailed description on how to size your paddle HERE.
Your Height Paddle Length
5’0”-5’4” 42”-45”
5’5”-5’8” 46”-47”
5’9”-6'0” 48”-49”
6'1"-6'4" 50"-51"

How to Choose a KIALOA Dragon Boat Paddle

Dragon paddles are uniform in size and shape which is determined by IDBF regulations. So materials is where we can get creative as designers. The main materials are wood, fiberglass and carbon. Each have different desirable qualities and its up to the paddler to decide what their preference is.

The KIALOA Yin Yang Dragon Paddle is our best seller. Inspired by our popular hybrid canoe paddles a hybrid paddle consists of a wood shaft and a carbon blade. The blade is constructed with a foam core using a process called resin transfer molding (RTM) that creates an extremely strong, light and durable paddle. The triple laminated wood shaft is hand-shaped and oval for a comfortable grip. The superior finish creates a wonderful hand-feel. The Ergo-T™ is also hand-shaped of wood and fits nicely in the palm. Our Yin Yang paddle is IDBF approved.

The Zen Carbon Dragon Paddle  Designed for the serious racer, the Zen is our lightest, strongest dragon paddle. The shaft is made from a pre-preg 3K carbon weave for a superior strength to weight ratio. The blade shape is built to IDBF specifications with a thin tip for a knife like catch. IDBF approved.

The Zen Carbon Adjustable addle is an adjustable version of our full carbon Zen paddle adding versatility without sacrificing performance. With 6 inches of adjustability from 45 to 51 inches you can find the perfect length for whatever boat or seat you are in.

The Makahiki Dragon Paddle  "Makahiki" means festival in Hawaiian and the tradition of festival paddling in dragon boating is what inspired this paddle. Festival organizers want a paddle that is durable and low maintenance, a paddle that can withstand the abuse of many paddlers and many races. KIALOA's implementation of our Fibrlite® technology produces a blade that can perform with the best composite paddles out there and last for many seasons with virtually no maintenance. The Makahiki Dragon Paddle is not IDBF approved and is designed for practice and recreational festivals that do not require the certification.

Dragon Boat Paddles and Racing

Dragon boat racing has been around for centuries but its resurgence as a competitive sport happened in the early 90's with the formation of the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF). The sport's popularity has been growing steadily ever since. Most dragon boat races are sprints ranging from 250m to 2000m and are regulated by formal racing rules.

Dragon Boat Paddlers

The standard crew of a dragon boat is 22 people with 20 paddlers, one sweep that steers the boat and one drummer that sets the pace. The boat itself is ornamented with a dragon's head and tail. Paddlers sit in pairs beside each other on a bench and each take a side of the boat. They must be in sync as they follow the lead two paddlers and the drummer. 

Dragon Boat Paddles

The dragon boat paddles in IDBF approved racing venues do not vary in shape or size but may vary greatly in materials. Dragon boat paddles must be built to IDBF Specification 202a to be approved for racing, so creativity on the manufacturers part must be in materials used. Paddlers expect dragon boat paddles to be light, strong and comfortable.


How to Care For Your Paddle

Like all high-end equipment, you will want to take great care of your new paddle. Carbon has a great "tensile" strength to weight ratio, but it is not as great with impact strength.  Whereas wood and fiberglass can take some smacks, carbon often cannot. In the sport of Dragon paddling this means timing not only makes your boat go faster, it protects your paddle as well. Someone off time in front or behind you can put some mighty sad dents in your blade. If the dent is bad enough, it may need to be sealed so water does not get into the core of the paddle blade.  Using a two part epoxy usually does the trick, but KIALOA is always available by phone or email to offer help keeping your paddle is good shape. Please don't hesitate to call.  541-382-5355

Check out our Makahiki paddle with the bomber strong blade, although not IDBF approved, it is a great practice and festival paddle and nearly indestructible. Save your nice carbon paddle for race days!

Getting Started in Dragon Paddling

First start by finding a club near you. The best way to learn about the sport of dragon paddling is talk to your local association and find a club near you.

US Dragon Boat Federation

West Coast: Pacific Dragon Boat Racing Association

California: California Dragon Boat Association

Midwest:  American Dragon Boat Association

Texas: Texas Dragon Boat Association

North East: East Region Dragon Boat Association

South East : Southeastern Region Dragon Boat Association

Florida: Pan Am Dragon Boat

Canada: Dragon Boat Canada

Europe: European Dragon Boat Federation