Dragon Boat US

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Dry Land Seminar

Introduce Yourself Hi, my name is Craig and I’m your Steersperson and Coach today.

Set Priorities Dragon Boat Racing is a lot of fun, and we’re going to have a good time. The most important thing is Safety. This is land, and that’s water, water is dangerous. Water will kill you. OK, now that that’s out of the way. Can everybody swim? Raise your hand if you can swim?

Establish Buddy System You may or may not know each other but it’s really important that you know who you’re sitting with today. If something goes wrong, if we get wet, you need to find your partner. Doing a head count of 21 people takes too long in a bad situation. Checking pairs is fast, and if there’s a single I know right away we have one missing. A missing person can’t tell me they’re missing, their seatmate can. Time is important in a missing situation.

Establish Authority The best way to not have a bad situation is through clear communication. In order to have this we have to have one Captain on the boat. I have that responsibility and will be the only one in charge on the boat. You’ll have to listen for my command. The Drummer will echo my commands. Drummer, repeat my command loudly for those in the front of the boat. Usually there’s chatter in the beginning. As practice continues there’s only heavy breathing and communication is easier.

Explain Paddling Through The best way to stay safe in rough water is to paddle. We have a 400 pound boat with another 2,000 pounds of people and won’t be tossed around if we paddle. Paddling acts like a gyroscope. Don’t shy away from waves or jump in your seatmate’s arms. Just paddle, together.

Explain the Paddle This is a Dragon Boat Paddle. This is the blade, tip, shaft, and handle. Your bottom hand goes just above the blade, your pinkie will get wet paddling, and your top hand goes over the handle with the thumb wrapping around. For most strokes we will have the entire blade in the water. For a very few others we will have ¾ of the blade in the water.

Demonstrate Strokes This is our racing stroke. It’s what we use for the majority of the race. Reaching far forward we put the blade straight in the water, up to our pinkie. This is called the catch. Our top hand is over our bottom hand so the shaft of the paddle is vertical. Then we sit up pulling the paddle back to our hip while keeping it vertical. This is the pull. At our hip we pull the paddle from the water, this is called the exit. Recovery is the movement from exit to catch. We also have two types of stokes used for the start of the race. The first is used to get the boat up in the water from a dead stop. This is with the full blade in the water but is a shorter stroke coming back to mid-thigh. The second stroke is also to mid-thigh, but only uses ¾ of the blade in the water. This is a very fast stroke used to get our boat up to speed quickly. A combination of these two strokes makes up our start. The number of stroke used to begin the race is called our start count. If we use 10 of the first stroke and 10 of the second we would have a 10-10 start. The number of strokes varies by team. Teams will vary from 5-12 strokes of each as a rule. The most common start counts are 8-10 and 8-12.

Explain/Review Commands There aren’t many commands used in Dragon Boating. Who’s raced before?

Sit Up – Sit Up Shut Up, same thing. Come to, or pay, attention. This means something is going to happen. Maybe just the start of a drill, maybe we need to respond to danger.

Paddles Up – Bring our paddles to the out-of-water start position. This is used for just about everything.

Take it Away – Start paddling.

Let it Run – Everyone’s favorite command. Put your paddle over your thighs and take a break. Coast.

Hold the Boat – Put the blade of the paddle straight down in the water to stop the boat. This also keeps the boat in one place and may be used after the boat has stopped its forward movement.

Ready, Ready - The race starts in a second. Get in the start position your team has chosen. Paddles Up for some teams paddles in the water for other teams. The next thing you'll hear is Go!.

Go! – Go is immediate, sudden, and requires an immediate violent reaction. Go replaces the leisurely Take it Away when racing or practicing starts.

Drawing and Pushing Water – Sometimes, to dock the boat or at the start line, we have to move the boat sideways. This is done by drawing or pushing water.

Drawing Water -is using the blade of the paddle to draw water towards you and under the boat.

Pushing Water -is using the paddle to push water away from the side of the boat.

Left and Right – Those of you with your right hand outside the boat are on the right. Those of you with your left hand outside the boat are on the left.

Explain the Practice

The first thing we need to do is paddle. To try to get in sync. We’ll do these using sets of ten. One set of ten would be ten strokes. Two sets of ten is twenty. The Drummer will count sets of ten for us. We’ll key on the drum beat. The boat may wobble side to side at first. This is called "caterpillar" and happens because we’re not in sync. Once we get in sync the boat will surge forward with each stroke.

To help find this surge we’ll do Sectional Drills. For Sectional Drills we’ll break the boat into sections. Each section will have a turn paddling while the others rest. On a windy day, or with strong current, we can’t float very long to rest without being forced into danger. Sectional Drills are a good way to rest our crew. Once we’re in sync and have found surge we can practice starts.

Starts simulate the beginning of a race. We’ll start developing our Start Count. Working on the first set one stroke at a time. Next we’ll work on the second set. Then put them together. With a start count we can do short sprints. Sprint starts are physically demanding and we’ll do sectionals, or float, to rest. At this point we can race one of the other practicing teams, or race for time.

At this point have the Captain line them up and take the Drummer aside for a talk. Once lined up have them check their seatmate, send them to get jackets and regroup in order.

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