STARTING A TEAM
Starting a Community Team for Paddle for Pink
No experience or equipment is needed to form a team and you don’t have to be an athlete. The Machestic Dragons will supply all equipment needed and teach you how to paddle a dragon boat.
What is a dragon boat?
It is a Chinese canoe about 40 feet long with 10 bench seats for 2 paddlers per seat (one paddling on the left and one paddling on the right). A full boat has 20 paddlers working together in synchronized paddling. A steerer/coach is in the back of the boat calling out the strokes while the paddlers are silent, listening and paddling. A drummer, sitting on an elevated seat in the front of the boat facing the paddlers, beats on a large drum to keep the paddlers in rhythm.
The boat is “fully dressed” with a dragon head on the front and a dragon tail on the back. Dragon boats have been around in China for over 2000 years and in the last 20 years the sport has gone
Worldwide with new teams forming every season and even include youth and senior divisions.
What is a dragon boat race?
An event for people to get together and have some fun on the water, join in good natured competition and in the case of Paddle for Pink, raise funds to support breast cancer programs provided free to community members. Boats, life jackets and paddles are provided, so participants don’t need to bring any special gear, although hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended. A steerer/coach and drummer are provided if needed, so no special skills are required to form a team.
Consistent with Chinese tradition, there will be an eye-dotting ceremony (paint a dot on the dragon head eyes) to “awaken the dragons” and bring good luck to the paddlers. Some races have teams that have been together for a few years and travel from other areas to participate. However, many participants/teams are newcomers, live relatively local and have formed a team just for this event. These groups are in the Community Team divisions and will compete against other community teams. Other divisions are the Breast Cancer Survivor (BCS) division and Club Team divisions.
What happens at a race?
Community Teams, those who do not belong to a Dragon Boat club or have access to boats and multiple practices, may enter one of the community divisions (Open is any combo, Women, Mixed is equal men and women) to compete on a fair level in three 250m races.
Club Teams have seasonal access to boats and practices and may not compete in the community division. They may enter as Breast Cancer Survivor (BCS) must all be BCS, Women’s, Mixed team (men and women of equal amounts), or Open (any combo) paddlers to compete in three 500m races.
The Team Captain attends the Team Captain meeting with the race coordinators at the beginning of the race day to get the details of their races along with important event and safety information. The Team Captain holds a short team meeting and communicates the information and is responsible for getting the team to marshalling in the racing area before their heat/race. A race schedule will be determined and each Community Team will race in three 250m races during the festival.
Teams usually bring a canopy tent, prepared food (no cooking allowed), non-alcoholic beverages, a table and chairs to “set up camp” to relax, socialize and watch the races. All attendees are encouraged to check out the festival entertainment, silent auction, vendors and activities at the site.
Putting the team together:
Each team identifies a Team Captain (or co-captains) who registers the team online. Recruit team members of friends, family members, co-workers, etc., ages 16 and up. We suggest recruiting up to 25 participants: 20 paddlers, 1 drummer, and 4 alternates, but you can form a team with as few as 16 paddlers. It is a fun day out on the water with about 50 teams.
On paddleforpink.org under the Registration Info tab, read all info and click the Team Registration button - you will be linked to the Pan Am Dragon Boat site. Register your team in the proper division, pay the registration fee and send the electronic waiver link to all participants.
ONE FREE PRACTICE- On the Paddle for Pink site, Click the Practice Schedule tab under Registration Info and log in or create a log in to access the calendar with practice slot options.
It is very important to have your whole team at your scheduled practice. At the practice site, a Machestic Dragon greeter will have you sign a waiver, get you fitted with a PFD (personal flotation device) and paddle, run a group warm up of stretching exercises, introduce you to the coach/steerer and set you with a paddler partner in the boat.
In the boat:
A Machestic Dragon coach/steerer will teach you the cadence of paddling, stroke and body position, a strategy used in racing and instruct you on dragon boat water safety. Paddlers must be “Quiet in the Boat” so all can hear the steerers commands.
The drummer keeps the pace for the team and can be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration during practices and on race day. At the team’s first practice, the coach assigned to your practice will explain how to drum and follow the paddle strokers in the front seat.
The key positions in the boat are all the paddlers, because races are won often by the team that is best at keeping in sync with each other (meaning your paddle enters the water at the same time as the person in front of you) and not necessarily by the strongest team.
Certainly winning is fun, but the true goal of the Festival is fun, teamwork, camaraderie, raising awareness and funds to support breast cancer programs in the community.