How to start a team
An Adult Dragon Boat Team consists of 22-26 members (20 paddlers, 1 drummer, 1 steersperson and up to 4 spares) and a team manager.
A Junior Dragon Boat Team consists of up to 30 members (20 paddlers, 1 drummer, 1 steersperson and up to 8 spares) and a team manager. Generally Youth Teams have an adult mentor that the team uses for guidance and as an extra resource but we encourage youth teams to become as self-sufficient as possible, to encourage the development of important life skills such as peer communication, organization, and responsibility.
A team must register for events, learn to paddle, practice, ensure they have a drummer/caller and steers person, and race. The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society offers All-In-One packages that do the work for you. These packages include race and regatta registration, instruction and coaching, and the use of all equipment and training for drummers and steersperson. All the team has to do is show up at the allotted times. For more information on the All-In-One Packages, including prices, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In self-managed teams, the team manager generally does not paddle, but is responsible for communicating and distributing team information to team members, gathering and submitting all necessary forms and waivers for the team, attending any festival or club meetings and acting as liaison for their team.
Race Divisions (Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival)
Adult Mixed (19yrs and up)
Women (19yrs and up)
U23 (18yrs to 23)
Junior (12yrs and up)
Senior’s Cup Race (60yrs and up)
Open (Men’s) Division (2 races)
Breast Cancer Survivor (All paddlers must be breast cancer survivors)
Dragon Boat Equipment:
• Dragon Boats, paddles, drums, and PFDs are provided for practices and races.
• Personal paddles and PFDs are also allowed but they must meet the specifications stated in the Rules and Regulations.
• All festival equipment used during practices and races must be returned intact.
Most races are 500m in length, unless otherwise specified during registration.
Race schedules are forwarded to team managers and captains approximately one week prior to each event.
Questions to ask when starting a dragon boat team:
• What are your team and/or individual goals? Fun, fitness, social, competition etc.
• How many practices do you want per week? Beginner teams may only have/want 8-10 practices in total, more skilled teams may practice from 1 to 5 times/week. The average recreational level team paddles twice per week starting in March or April.
• What commitment level do you expect from your team members? Will everyone be able to make most of the practices? A common problem is having only 10-14 people attend practices, which makes it less enjoyable for those that do show up. Remember that team members must be available all day, both days of festival weekend.
• You will need to find a practice venue if you are a self managing team. Fees vary, as will the facilities that are available (e.g., change rooms, showers, equipment, free or pay parking, coaching resources etc). The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival society runs Dragon Zone, a full service practice club. The Vancouver Dragon Zone is located on False Creek, in Creekside Community Centre, near Science World. The Richmond Dragon Zone is located at the Richmond Yacht Club on River Road. Dragon Zone has more than 80 teams practicing from the two facilities, with a fun, vibrant and inclusive atmosphere.
• Some teams find their own coach. Many teams favour the turn-key approach and let the Society organize the practices, coaching and race details. Do you have the funds to pay a coach? What do you expect from him/her?
• Do you have anyone interested in being the steersperson? Someone with canoeing, sailing or other boating experience would be a good starting point. This position is important for safety reasons and it will be important to ensure that this person gets the right training (from a coach or by attending steering clinics put on during the dragon boat season).
• Is anyone interested in being the drummer? Ideally you want someone small, light and loud for this position, but anyone will do. It’s not as easy as it looks, but paddling isn’t either J
• Many teams have some sort of organizational structure, but this may not be necessary for all teams:
• a non-paddling manager who organizes the team
• a team captain (or co-captains), voted on by the team after the season starts
• steering committee
• various other committees as you see fit (e.g., social, travel, communication, team uniforms, finance, etc)