If you are a fan of competitive watersports, but are looking for something a little different this Olympic year, forgo Rio for the swimming and diving. Travel to watch people compete in one of these unique watersports you may never even have heard of before.
Dragon Boat Racing has been around for years. The Dragon Boat Festival is based on the legend of poet Qu Yuan, an ancient court minister who promoted reform and was banished for it. He later committed suicide by drowning himself. To honor his patriotism, people eat rice dumplings participate in dragon boat races. These races occur worldwide, with one of the largest being held in Hong Kong, where about 200 teams compete. The canoes replicate old war canoes. Rowers paddle to the beat of a drummer who sits in the front, similar to the coxswain in western rowing. The World Championships will be held in September in China.
If you’re a hockey fan, but don’t enjoy cold hockey arenas, don’t worry. Combine a love of hockey and swimming and watch an underwater hockey game, also known as octopush. No pads required here; instead players wear fins, snorkels, masks, headgear and gloves as they move a weighted puck along the pool floor. If you don’t want the NHL season to end this year, consider going to the US underwater hockey nationals in Colorado this June.
Kiteboarding (also known as kitesurfing) combines paragliding and wakeboarding. Participants strap boards to their feet and use harnesses attached to huge kites to fly across the water and into the air at speeds of 30 mph. While the speed is impressive, it’s amazing to watch boarders react when gust of wind meets wave, flying up to 15 feet above the water. Intrigued? Take the opportunity to visit Fehmarn, a German island in the Baltic Sea, for the World Cup in the late summer.
Horsesurfing combines exactly what you’d think it does – horses towing riders on boards along shorelines. What started out in 2004 or 2005 as a lark in a field in England has morphed into an international sport that include both land and water competition. Trick riding for the member on the horse and speed for the “surfer” keep spectators interested.
You may not be willing to travel just to observe people competing in these unusual sports, but consider doing something a little different on your next vacation – you can find a game or competition all over the world. If you become enthusiastic and want to try one of these sports, make sure you have travel insurance, but make sure your activity is covered before you take any chances.