Enter The Dragon – A How To: Get Into Dragon Boating
This covers my journey from water sports novice, to experienced Dragon boater/canoeist racing in the national league and having the opportunity to race against the very best.
Following an unrelated sporting event, a friend contacted me to join his new charity dragon boat team. With a bit of free time and an old competitive streak still fiery as ever, it sounded like a great idea.
Through the summer months of 2008 a Jez Cheung asked me to join his comically named ‘Windy Pandas‘ team to take on other like minded crews in Bewl Water (Kent) Childrens Charity Dragonboating event.
We trained for a few weeks ahead of the race. Our crew of many shapes and sizes, took on larger, stronger teams (40+ teams). But with our brains and superior technique we managed to come an overall second and pick up our first trophy. The winners of the previous 2 years (and a team of beefcake builders no less) edged us to the win.
After this, I decided to join a British Dragon Boating Association league club (Typoon DBC).
2 Types of Racing
These races are intended for all skill levels of participants. Ideal if you are a complete beginner and want to see if it’s for you. If you are looking for a charity team, I recommend a great place to start is the Windy Pandas who train and race regularly during spring and summer months.
National League Racing
This is ideal if you have a background in sports or train regularly in the gym. Many teams have a first and second team setup, allowing more opportunity to race at your level. Training is not always easy but is satisfying and competitive. The races are a real adrenaline rush. I raced/race with Typhoon Dragon boat club who are welcoming to new people and a premier league side.
There are 2 great advantages for dragon boating as a sport for the gym-to-competitive athlete. The first is that as a modern sports movement, its in relative infancy. So if your fit, strong and willing to listen/learn you can go a long way quickly. The other advantage are the numbers required for the sport mean your social circle will grow significantly.
A Dragon Boating Inspiration
Excellent video featuring Richard Wang of London Team, Thames Raging Dragons. Though not strictly about Dragon boating, it is inspirational and will give you an idea about some of the guys in the sport.
How to get into Dragon Boating:
Many great dragon boaters start on the charity circuit (though this is by no means a necessity). A lot of people organise or start a charity race/crew to join. Myself, started with the ‘Windy Pandas‘ – probably the best (looking) charity dragon boating team in last land for 4 years.
You can get in touch with them here:
Windy Pandas (Probably the best looking dragon boat team around)
After a single charity race (Bewl Water Childrens Charity Race 2008), I made the move to a national league racing with Typhoon DBC.
They’re a great club, well run, so get in touch:
Equipment you will need
- Waterproof Shoes/Sandals/Crocs (you can go barefoot)
- Shorts or tracksuit bottoms
- Sports top that dries quickly (I used Skins and Canterbury tops, but these are purely optional).
- Enthusiasm (Not optional)
My dragon boating experience:
- 2nd in the Bewl Water Childrens Charity Race 2008
- 6th in 200m British Dragonboating Association 2008 Race with a Non-league guest, beating all Standard league crew and 1 Premier league crew. (it was quite an experience)
- 6 National League races in 2009 with Typhoon DBC, team coming 6th in the national Premier League.
Competed in British Dragon Boating Association Nationals in Nottingham 2009.
- Typhoon DBC “Super Tiger” Champion 2009 (Individual award)
- 3 National league races in 2010
- Many happy training sessions on cold and rainy days…