Team Registration Call: (256) 543-1898


TEAM GUIDE2018-02-02T21:47:23+00:00

This is your guide to leading your team on and off the water. You get the chance to bond with your team while competing for the win! Event day, Saturday, August 18, 2018, at Riverwalk Park (behind Chili’s at 340 Albert Rains Blvd.), will feature exhilarating, fun, competitive racing. You can decorate your tent, show off your cool team T-shirts – enjoy the experience!

The Team

  • You may have a maximum of 24 team members. The minimum age for participation is 15.
  • 20 paddlers and 1 drummer (ONLY 3 alternates can be added to your team). The steerer will be provided by race management. You may have a minimum of 16 paddlers to participate on race day. Your team may consist of fellow employees, friends and family. You don’t need experienced team members. Dragon Boat paddling is easy to learn; the techniques and logistical information you need are taught during practice.
  • Each team must race with a minimum of eight (8) women paddlers. Your team will receive a time penalty of three (3) seconds for every female your team is short. The only exception to this rule – leave the seat empty for every female required.
  • The drummer must weigh 160 pounds or less. For safety reasons, there is a weight limit for drummers. Your drummer receives instruction in practice to keep the beat of the stroke. It is also ideal for this person to yell loudly and have rhythm. Drummer can only use provided drumsticks and their voices to direct team members.
  • Sound Devices including radios, electronic signaling devices, bullhorns, air horns, whistles, generators with a decibel rating over 65dBA and other noisemaking devices are prohibited.

Each team receives

  • Team Tent space in Athlete’s Village (bring a 10’x10′ pop-up, coolers welcome)
  • Use of Dragon Boats and equipment (includes life jackets/PFD, paddles, and drum)
  • Life jacket/PFD (team members may use their own Coast Guard approved PFD)
  • One 90-minute on-water scheduled practice prior to race day (contact office to schedule your practice)
  • Sponsoring company/team name posted on the and other materials.


Practices are vital to the Dragon Boat experience. Practice time will help your team become familiar with the boat and learn the technique, as well as master timing. The more team members showing for practice, the better your team performs on race day.

Each team receives a 90-minutes practice session on the Coosa River at Riverwalk Park (behind Chili’s) with a trained coach during the week prior to the race. With full payment of registration fee, practice times will be scheduled on a first come, first served basis

Team Captain’s Meeting

This meeting is required for all team captains or a representative of your choosing. You may attend either one of the two meetings Tues., Aug. 7th or Thurs. Aug. 9, 2018. Both meetings will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Habitat for Humanity office located at 3644 Rainbow Drive in Rainbow City, just north and next door to the Rainbow City Municipal Building. Important safety information will be discussed, your teams’ race schedule will be distributed (if available at that time), along with unloading pass for one vehicle to be granted short-term close access to drop off items such as your tent – chairs, tables, decorations, etc. and two parking passes.

What to wear for practice and race day

  • You WILL get wet. Wear clothing you do not mind getting wet.
  • Comfortable, quick drying shorts and dri-fit shirts are most convenient (cotton tends to stick to your skin).
  • Sport sandals, or water shoes are recommended such as Tevas, Crocs, etc. (Tennis shoes are too heavy).
  • You may wear your own U.S. coast Guard approved life vest (or use those provided at practices and on race day).
  • Hat or visor to keep the sun out of your eyes.
  • Sunscreen/ sunglasses
  • In case of rain, bring rain gear
  • Consider bringing a towel and extra change of clothes

What to Bring

  • Your team should bring a tent for shade at the festival (10’x10′ pop-up canopy) is best. (NO LARGE tents or stakes in ground allowed)
  • Each team will have tent space labeled with your team name in the Athletes’ Village.
  • We will provide water and other beverages, but you should bring extra to insure that your team has plenty of water. Healthy snacks would be a good idea, too. Some refreshments will also be available from vendors.
  • Chairs, tables, decorations, snacks, footballs, sunscreen, hat, garbage bag for your tent area, towels, comfortable shoes, change of clothes if you do not want to be wet all day.

Race Day

  • Report to your Team Tent an hour (8:00 a.m.) before the race. This will allow you enough time to unload your belongings, park and sign in at the registration table to receive your wrist band.
  • Opening Ceremony 8:45 a.m.
  • First heat starts at 9:00 a.m., so your team should check-in for your wrist band at least one (1) hour prior to their first race.
  • Marshaling officials and volunteers will instruct your team to line up, then alert you when it’s time to load boat.
  • Free shuttles will run from Convention Hall and Moragne Park. Parking will NOT be allowed on Albert Rains Blvd.
  • Judges will decide the winners for “Best Drummer Costume” and “Best Team Spirit”, “Best Team T-Shirts” and “Best Decorated Tent”.

Race Format

  • Each team races twice.
  • Round 1 is pre-arranged on the schedule.
  • After the first race, teams are seeded by time and into their race division of Competitive or Recreational and will race fastest to slowest in Round 2.
  • After Round 2, times from both races are averaged to determine the final round.
  • The Final round in the Recreational Division is comprised of the top 6 fastest teams.
  • The Final round in the Competitive Division is comprised of the top 6 fastest teams
  • In the Final round of the Recreational Division, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners are determined based on fastest times in the final round only (2 heats = 3rd and final round) .
  • In the Final round of the Competitive Division, the Gold, Silver, Bronze winners are determined based on fastest times of the final round only (2 heats = 3rd and final round).


Turning in your signed team waivers and completed roster at the Captain’s meeting would be appreciated. Waivers may be filled out at your practice, however. There is no other participant registration necessary.

What Not To Bring

Alcohol. It would severely dehydrate you and make paddling dangerous. Hydration is very important. Read more about it on Please learn more in the rules and regulations.

Tips For Teams

Basic Guidelines

Conduct in the Boat: There should be no/minimal talking once your team is in the boat. The drummer and steersperson must be able to communicate with the team and each other at all times, and all team members need to be able to hear the commands. Paddles straight up in the air if you need to draw attention to yourself in case of emergency.

Buddy System: Make certain that each of your team members knows who is sitting beside them in case the boat swamps/capsizes, which is highly unlikely. Teammates will be responsible for each other’s safety until rescue arrives. STAY WITH THE BOAT!

Life Jackets: Everyone must wear a life jacket during practice and on Race Day.

Drummer: The drummer should attend practice, if possible. He or she will assist in setting the timing for the team and can be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration during practices and on Race Day.

How To Sit In The Boat: Outside hip forward. Inside hip back. Outside leg extended along the gunwale (inside top rail of the boat). Inside foot under the seat or braced effectively and comfortably

Seven Steps of the Dragon Boat Paddling Technique

  • Rotation
  • Reach Extension
  • Top Arm Drive (stab the water)
  • Catch-powerfully drive the paddle into the water at approx. a 45 degree angle, burying the entire blade into the water-your hand should get wet.
  • Pull water with the entire blade until you get to just behind your knee
  • Exit -get that paddle straight up and out of the water quickly, no further back than your hip
  • Recovery -snap the paddle back into the paddles up position for the next catch

Dragon Boat Paddling Commands

  • Paddles Up: Be ready to paddle. All paddlers with paddles above the water (3-6 inches from the surface) ready to enter the water.
  • Take it Away: Begin paddling.
  • Let it Run: Stop paddling and let the boat glide.
  • Hold the Boat or Stop the Boat: Place paddles in the water, with paddle pointed straight down, blade submerged. It will bring the boat to a stop. If you hear the command, “Hold hard,” quickly put your paddle straight down and then back it up one stroke.
  • Back it Down: Paddle backwards.
  • Draw (left or right side): Initiates a turn using draw strokes by the designated paddlers. Can also be used to get the boat closer to something, a dock, for example.
  • Stabilize the boat: Place your paddle blade on top of the water and hold it there. This stabilizes the boat. It is needed when anyone stands up in the boat to change position, etc.

Note: Your coach/steerer will brief you about these commands before your practice. In the boat, when the coach is talking, please continue to paddle and listen. Never stop paddling unless your coach says “Let it run.”