About Us - Our Club- Wasabi

Who is Wasabi?

Wasabi is Portland's largest dragon boat Club, with over 300 members. Founded in 1993, Wasabi participates in dragon boat and outrigger canoe races around the world. 

We come from all ages and stages of life, but we find great joy in being on the water with one another. There is a team for everyone, from the novice paddler who is just learning the basics of the sport to the most competitive athlete who races at international venues.

Wasabi membership is comprised of Portlanders of all abilities and physical fitness levels. Teams range from recreational to competitive, including specialized teams like the Wasabi Special Dragons and Wasabi Team SOAR, a women's cancer survivor team.

Regardless of your age, experience or gender, Wasabi has a team for you!

We are an inclusive group who enjoy many on and off-water activities. Club members represent Portland and the Wasabi Paddling Club at local and international venues around the world!

Club History

Founded in 1993, Wasabi Paddling Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the participation in, and promotion of, the national and international amateur sports of Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe racing. Our club has remained true to its goal of developing strong, competitive teams through mentoring and top-level coaching. We also are active members of our community, spearheading fundraisers, contributing time to the training and coaching of adaptive athletes, organizing food and blanket drives and various other community outreach efforts.

What is Dragon Boat Paddling?

There are many ancient legends that surround the origin of the sport. What is known is that competitive races originated between villages in China over 2000 years ago. Modern-day dragon boat racing began in 1976, in Hong Kong. In these events, dragon boats are generally rigged with decorative Chinese dragonheads and tails, and a “caller” at the front of the boat beats a drum to keep the paddlers in time. At other times the decorative regalia is removed, although the drum often remains aboard for training purposes.

There are several roles on a dragon boat:

Paddlers: Similar to canoeing (and unlike rowing), paddlers sit facing the front of the boat and propel the boat forward by driving and pulling their paddles through the water at the same time and in the same manner as every other paddler. There are typically 10 benches in a boat, with two paddlers per bench. After paddling on one side for a period of time, each paddler switches sides with their “bench mate”, and then paddles on the opposite side of the boat for a similar period of time.

The Caller/Coach: During a race, the caller (drummer) sits at the head of the boat and may issue commands to the crew through a combination of drum beats and voice calls, and also generally exhorts the crew to perform at their peak. During practices, the coach sits at the head of the boat, demonstrating the proper technique through example and critique, so that each paddler can achieve his or her most effective stroke.

The Steersperson controls the dragon boat with an oar rigged at the rear of the boat. It is the steersperson’s job to keep the boat on course.

What is Outrigger Canoeing?

Outrigger canoeing traces its origins to Asian and Polynesian cultures, where the boats were used as a means of sea travel.

Outriggers are generally round-bottomed vessels with an external outrigger, which keeps the canoe stable in water. Referred to by its initials, an “OC” can be a one, two or six person canoe. Compared to dragon boat racing, outrigger racing is more of an endurance sport with most racing being between 4 and 10 miles.

Wasabi Paddling Club

Competition, Community, and Camaraderie on and off the water.


Wasabi Paddling Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to the participation in, and promotion of, the national and international amateur sports of Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe racing. Our charter includes assisting novice through experienced paddlers in our community. The Clubs goal is to develop strong, competitive teams through sponsoring and coaching.