About Dragon Boating
Dragon Boating is a fantastic team water sport that involves 20 paddlers, a sweep and a drummer in a long narrow purpose built boat. Dragon Boat races are usually between 200 and 500 metres long. Occasionally 2000 metre races are featured. Typically, there are 4 to 6 boats in a race. Teams categories are womens, open or mixed crews paddling in Junior, Premier, Masters, Grand Masters, or Great Grand Masters divisions. Strength is required to accelerate the large boats off the line. Endurance is required to maintain speed as the boats reach the finish line. To get the boat moving fast, timing as well as power is required. The races are exciting and spectacular, an adrenaline charged sprint.
|Sweep||The person who stands in the back of the boat and steers with a long sweep oar. From a safety perspective, the sweep is in control of the boat and paddler must obey his commands.|
|Strokes||These are the two paddlers who sit in the front seat. They set the paddling timing for the whole boat.|
|Drummer||In a race, the drummer sits on the drumming seat at the front of the boat facing the rear of the boat. The drummer beats a drum in time with the stroke rate set by the strokes.|
What to Bring
A water bottle, comfortable exercise clothes you don’t mind getting wet, something breathable and quick dry like a rash shirt is good, boat shoes or old sand shoes you don’t mind getting wet.
Levels of Paddling
|Level 1||Very easy paddling|
|Level 2||Easy aerobic paddling, 40-60spm, features all the good technique, reaching right out, but not much pressure on the blade.|
|Level 3||Strong aerobic paddling, 50-60spm, good technique, more pressure on the bade|
|Level 4||Hard aerobic paddling, 60spm, race pace paddling, maximum pressure on the blade|
|Level 5||Hard anaerobic, sprinting|
|Level 6||Maximum anaerobic, race starts|
If you can’t swim 50 metres fully clothed you will have to wear a personal floatation device. Dragon boating uses the buddy system keep the crew safe in the unlikely event of a capsize. Before starting to paddle the sweep will ask the crew to number off from the front of the boat. Each crew member is paired with person sitting next to them, and is responsible for ensuring that they are accounted for and safe in the event of a capsize. The sweep is responsible for the stability of the boat. At times the sweep will instruct the crew to place the blades of their paddles flat on the water to stabilise the boat, such as when a power boat wake is approaching or the when crew is changing sides.
|Head Count||Number off from drummer to sweep in the order left paddler, right paddler.|
|Paddles Flat||Reach out and rest the blade of the paddle flat on the water to stabilise the boat.|
|Paddles Up||Paddles up ready to do a forward stroke.|
|Paddles Behind||Paddles up ready to do a reverse stroke.|
|Paddles Out / Let It Run||Paddles come out of the water and the dragon boat glides to a stop|
|Stop the Boat / Dig It In||Stop the boat quickly, by holding the entire blade paddle vertically in the water|
|Hold water||Paddles vertical in the water to keep the boat from moving|
|Draw Stroke||(sideways stroke) nominated seats (usually front 2 or 3 rows) do this to straighten up the nose of the boat.|
|Change Sides||From the front the paddlers on each seat in turn swap sides. The paddler on the right stands in the centre of the boat while the paddler on the left slides across the seat. The standing paddler then sits on the left.|
These are the start commands issued by the starter in a race, or by the sweep during race practice.
|Set yourselves||Lean forward paddle resting on the gunwale at an angle of about 45 degrees|
|Are you Ready||Lean forward and your bury paddle in the water up to the outboard hand. In a race, if the team is NOT ready, the drummer must immediately raise their hand high to notify the starter. Adjustment of boat alignment is still possible.|
|Attention||Paddles in the water, boat stationary, prepare for start|
|Go||(or in a race, the sound of a horn) start paddling.|
How to Paddle
1. When holding the paddle, the fingers of your top hand curl around the paddle handle crosspiece. It is important that your lower hand grips the shaft one hand span from the blade. This ensures that the whole blade enters the water, and you get maximum leverage.
2. Sit in the boat with your hip hard up against the side of the boat. Extend your outboard leg, and brace it against the rib under the seat in front of you. Much of the power in your stroke will come from being able to push your body upright using your back and upper leg muscles pushing against a well braced outboard leg. Your inboard leg should be tucked back towards your seat. Sit squarely on the seat so that your body can hinge at the waist.
3. Timing, timing, timing. Keep your head up, and don't look at your paddle. Look to the front of the boat and the person in front of you. Gauge your timing from the rise and fall of the upper hands of the people in front of you.
4. The beginning of the paddling stroke is called the catch. You start with the "paddles up" position, with the paddle angled forward at 45 degrees. Your top hand is near your forehead, and outside the boat. Your inboard arm is slightly bent. Your inboard elbow is high. Your outboard arm is straight and reaches right forward. You are bent at the waist, and you rotate your body so that your outboard shoulder is leading your inboard shoulder. This will give you the maximum extension of your arm and paddle. You should be aiming for two seats ahead of you. What you want to achieve is for the paddle to move in the vertical plane along the boat close to the gunwale. Reach forward and drive your paddle into the water with your whole body, still at a forward angle.
5. The power phase is a strong rip back. This is where all the power of the stroke comes from. Push you body upright with outboard leg. This is called leg drive. At the same time untwist your body pull your outboard shoulder back. Bring your paddle vertical and keep it that way with your upper arm, as you pull through the water. It is very important to keep your lower or outboard arm as straight as possible. Your biceps in this arm do not have the endurance to last a whole race, so don't use them! Lock this arm as straight.
6. For the exit phase, flick the paddle out to the side keeping lower arm straight, when your stroke reaches your hip. Continuing the stroke any further is wasted effort, and you will tend to clash paddles with the person behind you.
7. For the recovery phase, the return part of the stroke is slower compared to the fast power rip. Remember to keep the inside elbow high ready to drive the paddle forward the next stroke.