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Modern dragon boat racing is organised at an international level by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF). The IDBF, a Member of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) recognises two types of Dragon Boat Racing activities, namely Sport racing, as practised by IDBF member organisations; and Festival racing, which are the more traditional and informal types of races, organised around the world, where racing rules vary from event to event.
There are also some very long endurance events, such as the Three Gorges Dam Rally along the Yangtze River (or Chang Jiang) near Yichang, Hubei province, China, which covers up to 100 kilometres and the Ord River marathon in Australia which covers over 50 kilometres. There is even a frozen mist and ice winter time dragon boat racing event held in Jilin, a city and province north of Beijing. The Missouri River 340 (545 kilometers) is open to canoe, kayak and dragon boats. Team Beauties and Barnicles took third place overall in August 2010, setting the current Guinness World Record for longest distance travelled in a dragon boat with a time of 38 hours and 5 minutes. A new Guinness World Record was created on 30th Dec 2011 for the Greatest Distance by Dragon Boat in 24 hours (relay) - 227km. This record is currently held by the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Association.
The IDBF has organised World Nations Dragon Boat Racing Championships (WDBRC) for Representative National or Territorial teams every two years since 1995. In between the National Championship years, IDBF organises Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) for the world's top club-based crews. Due to the outbreak of SARS in 2003, the Shanghai festival was moved to Poznan, Poland. Shanghai were awarded an extra sanctioned Nationals race the following year.
In 2005 the IDBF introduced a Corporate and Community World Championships (WCorcom) designed for crews that normally race in Festival Races and aimed at the 'weekend warrior' type of competitor and not the elite International standard or serious Club Crew competitors.
In 2006 under the patronage of the IDBF, the 1st World Championships for Breast Cancer Survivors - the 'Pink Paddlers' - were held in Singapore. The 2nd BCS World Championships was held in Miami, Florida, USA in July 2009, in conjunction with the World Corcom Championships
The 2006 CCWC took place at the Western Beaches Watercourse, in Toronto's west end. Spectators and dragon boat fans from across North America – and the world – came out to spend the day on Toronto's beautiful waterfront and cheer on their favourite Dragon Boat crews. Over 2000 competitors took part and the event generated over 2 million dollars Canadian for the local economy.
Both the Asian Dragon Boat Federeation (ADBF) and European Dragon Boat Federation (EDBF) also hold National Team Championships on alternate years to the IDBF National Championships and the EDBF have held Club Crew Championships since 1992.