Thursday 8 August 2013

Dragon Boats- The Experience

After mentioning it on my blog a bunch of times (like here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I'm FINALLY going to share my Dragon Boat experience!

Official Team Shirt
A number of months ago, at a Brock Alumni meeting, I mentioned that Brock Alumni should put together a Dragon Boat team. Everyone thought this is was a great idea and at our next meeting, Brock Staff (who oversees our committee), brought a Dragon Boat Coach. At the meeting, Coach gave us a rundown of the sport/paddling and set up a learn to paddle event for us at the end of May. This event would serve as an opportunity for us to try out paddling/Dragon Boating and as our first team practice. 

A couple of weeks later and days before our races, we had our second practice (pictured below). It was here that we got our official team shirts (which I am actually wearing as I write this) and our Brock Alumni sunglasses.

Photo courtesy of Brock Alumni- Facebook page

It was after this practice that Coach gave us some last minute advice on how to prepare for our races. One of the pieces of advice was not to eat McDonald's. The following day, I was at an event with a sponsor and she asked if I wanted to grab a quick bite before heading back to the office. I said sure and she suggested McDonald's, which I lamely had to say 'My Coach said I couldn't eat there before our race.' This was met with a weird look and I had to explain the situation. I did tell my Coach/Team this story between races...we all had a good laugh about it.
The day before our races, I saw my uncle- a former Dragon Boater- who provided me with the following:

Rubber gloves for a better grip of the paddle and a whistle in case I fell in the water, they'd know where I was.
We raced on Henley Island, which is a world renown rowing course and really pretty. I believe we had to arrive around 9:15am and we had a Brock Alumni tent, which is where we hung out most of the time- when we weren't racing. We actually had a great spot, right on the water, so we had a great view of the races.

View from our spot, looking towards the dock.
It was great to have a spot that Alumni could hang out, talk and get to know each other. There was a lot of laughter. But it wasn't all fun and games...Dragon Boating is serious business!

We were a community team, which means we were not a university team or a team that competes competitively at Dragon Boating. A lot of teams start holding tryouts in December, making cuts in March and hit the water for their first practice as soon as the ice melts off the water (my uncle was on a team like this). There are also teams that have their own paddles and life jackets, and some were even working out prior to their races! We were not any of those teams. But we were fun!

Before each race, Coach would gather us for team meeting. He'd give us advice, reminders, get us pumped up. We'd head to the staging area where we'd get our life jackets, paddles and move onto the dock to get in the boat.

Photo courtesy of my sister.
From here, we'd have to paddle out to the starting line and wait for the other boats to get out before we could start our races. Our racing times were in the 2:44-2:48 ranges, which is pretty standard time and really good for a rookie team like us- at least that's what Coach told us. After we were done our race, we had to paddle back to the dock. It was A LOT of work! 

Once we got off the boat, Coach would gather us for another team meeting, where he'd tell us what a great job we did and tell us what to work on for the next race. As one my teammates said, we got the motivational coach. 

Post race team meeting- serious business. Photo courtesy of my sister.
I had so, so, so much fun! Everyone on our team was there to have good time, and that we did! There was a lot of laughter and fun had by all. Even when we were in the boat, pre/post race, we were all laughing and joking around-and maybe yelling things at the other boats to throw them off...Coach would say "Guys...eyes in your own boat" in an attempt to get us focused and under control.

I'm pretty sure that we're going to enter a team again next year...can't wait!

BrockTv was there to shoot a piece on us. You can see our team in action (aka watch the clip) here.


  1. O wow! I've never seen a dragon boat race before! Sounds like you had fun.

  2. What an EXPERIENCE!!! That is amazing... GOOD for you! (Visitng from SITS!)