The ancient sport of dragon boating has found its way to Napier's shores as a new club forms.

The sport, which has Chinese origins, has found popularity in many parts of the world, often among breast cancer groups.

The newly established Hawke's Bay Dragon Boat club wanted to see something similar happen in the Bay.

When Jacob de Feijter, a dragon boat coach from Wellington, contacted the Hawke's Bay Breast Cancer Trust, new club secretary Dot Foote was interested in getting the sport moving in this region.


New to the sport herself, Foote was inspired to start a Hawke's Bay club as a way for people to be active which she describes as "physically and emotionally restorative".

"I like the idea of a team bond and the camaraderie which comes from the sport.

"It will be great to create a community for it in Hawke's Bay," she said.

The group originally gained traction by reaching out to local cancer support groups but have opened the club up to anyone aged over 12.

Foote said close to 50 people have shown their interest so far.

A boat was found at the Hawke's Bay Coast Guard yard and local boat builder Murray Neal volunteered to restore it with assistance from his brother Brian.

The boat was completed just before Christmas and has since been out for a couple of test runs.

A Wellington club has donated oars and loaned life jackets to get the club running.


The club will have an official opening this Saturday at Meanee Quay in Westshore.

Members of the public are encouraged to come and try the sport in 20-30 minute "have-a-go" sessions.

The 12-metre long dragon boat consists of 20 paddlers and one sweep who stands at the back steering the boat.

The aim is to create both competitive and social groups within the Hawke's Bay community.

"In time we want to be able to cater to everyone," Foote said.

The International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission dragon boat competition will be held in 2022 at Lake Karapiro in Waikato.

Foote sees this as something which can be trained for if a team of breast cancer survivors can be put together.