Racing Conduct, Technique, and Rules

Don’t worry, we will show you all you need to know on practice day. But this info will help you know what to expect.

Racing Conduct

Conduct in the Boat: There should be no/minimal talking once your team is in the boat. The drummer and steers person must be able to communicate with the team and each other at all times, and all team members need to be able to hear the commands. Paddles straight up in the air if you need to draw attention to yourselves in case of emergency.

Buddy System: Make certain that each of your team members knows who is sitting beside them in case the boat swamps/capsizes, which is highly unlikely. Teammates will be responsible for each other’s safety until rescue arrives. STAY WITH THE BOAT!

Life Jackets: Everyone must wear a life jacket during practice and on Race Day.

Drummer: The drummer should attend practice, if possible. He or she will assist in setting the timing for the team and can be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration during practices and on Race Day.

How To Sit In The Boat

  • Outside hip forward
  • Inside hip back
  • Outside leg extended along the gunwale (inside top rail of the boat)
  • Inside foot under the seat or braced effectively and comfortably

Seven Steps of the Dragon Boat Paddling Technique

  1. Rotation
  2. Reach Extension
  3. Top Arm Drive (stab the water)
  4. Catch-powerfully drive the paddle into the water at approx. a 45 degree angle,burying the entire blade into the water. Your hand should get wet.
  5. Pull water with the entire blade until you get to just behind your knee
  6. Exit -get that paddle straight up and out of the water quickly, no further back than your hip
  7. Recovery – snap the paddle back into the paddles up position for the next catch

Dragon Boat Paddling Commands

  • Paddles Up: Be ready to paddle. All paddlers with paddles above the water (3-6inches from the surface) ready to enter the water.
  • Take It Away: Begin paddling.
  • Let It Run: Stop paddling and let the boat glide.
  • Hold the Boat or Stop the Boat: Place paddles in the water, with paddle pointed straight down, blade submerged. It will bring the boat to a stop. If you hear the command, “Hold hard,” quickly put your paddle straight down and then back it up one stroke.
  • Back It Down: Paddle backwards.
  • Draw (left or right side): Initiates a turn using draw strokes by the designated paddlers. Can also be used to get the boat closer to something, a dock, for example.
  • Stabilize the Boat: Place your paddle blade on top of the water and hold it there. This stabilizes the boat. It is needed when anyone stands up in the boat to change position, etc.

Note: Your coach/steerer will brief you about these commands before your practice. In the boat, when the coach is talking, please continue to paddle and listen. Never stop paddling unless your coach says, “Let it run.”

Racing Rules

  • Teams race with 20 paddlers, 1 drummer, and 1 trained dragon boat steerer(provided). Teams may have 3 alternates for a total of 24 team members. Teams can race with minimum of 16 paddlers on the boat.
  • Each boat must have at least 8 female paddlers (the drummer does not count toward the 8 female paddlers).
  • The minimum age of paddlers and the drummer is 15-years old.
  • A person of any size and fitness level can paddle in a dragon boat race.
  • Every paddler must sign a waiver
  • The drummer must actively beat the drum during the race.
  • Each paddler must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Jackets are provided. However, you may bring your own.
  • Races are 250 meters – about two and a half football fields. The race will last from 1 minute to one and a half minutes at full speed.
  • Each team will race in at least two heats – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The 12 teams with the fastest average times will advance to a third and final round.
  • Practices and racing will NOT be canceled or postponed due to rain.
  • If you have a race day protest, you should communicate it to the Chief Marshaler.