Bamboo Drift Racing – A Combination of Speed and Balance

I couldn’t stand still on a cane of bamboo even if it was on land. To think that there are people who can balance themselves on a bamboo pole floating in water! It’s probably the world’s thinnest boat.

Bamboo Drift Racing is actually a sport in Southwest China’s Guizhou province. Competitors stand on a bamboo pole and paddle using a thin stick of bamboo. Considered an exotic minority sport in China, the rules have changed over the years. In fact, although the tradition is to use bamboo, competitors now use a similar-looking strip made from green fiberglass. This offers better buoyancy and makes the boat more durable . The fiberglass sticks also help increase speed, and can be taken apart with ease later on. Still wondering how in the world it’s possible to row while standing on a stick? The trick, apparently, lies in the waist. All the balancing is done by controlling the bamboo using your waistline.

Photo © Xinhua

Incidentally, bamboo drifting didn’t originate as a sport in Guizhou. It was actually a means of transportation that came into place around 100 years ago. The deep valleys of the region were almost always flooded, which made it difficult for locals to travel out of the area. So they would just chop down logs of bamboo and drift on them down the river. When they reached the other side, they would sell their sticks at the bazaar. Bamboo drifting competitions are held every year in China as a part of the National Traditional Ethnic Minority Sports Meet.

 

Photo © Xinhua/Peng Nian

Photo © Xinhua/Peng Nian


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