International Dragonboat Federation (IDBF)

Some paddlers have probably heard of the abbreviation IDBF Spec 202a when they look at purchasing a paddle, but don’t really know what it means. I’m going to give a brief summary of what IDBF stands for and who they are, so for any of the paddlers wondering what is this, then here it!

IDBF, stands for International Dragon Boat Federation.

History of IDBF: This is the International governing body of Dragon Boating that was originally formed in 1991. As Dragonboating had been around for over 2000 years where it began in China, there was no formal constitution that had guidelines in the modern era and as the sport was starting to take off in other countries, a body of members came together to set some guidelines. Hence IDBF was formed.

International Dragon Boat Racing competitions for non-national crews have been staged around the world since June 1976. When overseas crews were invited for the first time, to race in the traditional Hong Kong Festival Races it was from this event and date that the member associations of the IDBF accepted and record times.

From the example of the Hong Kong International Races, other international races quickly established themselves at ‘club level’ (notably in Singapore; Malaysia; Canada; New Zealand Australia and Sweden) and common Rules and Regulations for international races were developed. In the early 1980s the sport began to develop as a recognised sport and from the mid 1980s onwards, dragon boat associations, with formal constitutions and quite independent of any other sports governing bodies, were established at ´national level´ in Asia, Europe, North America, Australasia and Africa.

In the late 1980s ad hoc meetings were held and minutes recorded, between representatives of the established dragon boat associations and newly emerging crews, with regard to forming Continental and World Federations for the sport. As a result of these ongoing discussions the European Dragon Boat Federation (EDBF) was formed in 1990, followed by the IDBF in 1991 and the Asian Dragon Boat Federation (ADBF) in 1992. These three independent federations now act as the representative bodies for the sport; enact international rules and regulations and organise dragon boat championships for their member associations.

So next time you see the symbol below on your paddle, any dragonboat equipment and articles you will be proud to know that it’s approved by IDBF and can be used anywhere around the world.



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