Dragon Boat US

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Steering Rough Water

Some practice, and race, sites are sheltered and free of boating traffic, some aren’t. You may encounter large waves from an open body of water or motorboats. Weather conditions can make a calm site go choppy quickly. Take the path of least resistance. If going head-on into waves is going to put you off course for the objective so what. If you need to use the calm waters to align your course through rough waters to the objective go ahead. Take what you’re given. Giving the crew a head’s up can help too. "We’ve got some waves coming in and I’m steering into them so we can paddle through. Paddles Up!, Take it Away." Tells your crew exactly what’s going on, what to do and the outcome. We’re paddling through.

Paddling Paddling is very important in managing waves. From the front, back or side a wave is easier to manage when everyone is paddling in unison.

Front Approach Waves approaching head-on aren’t a problem due to the shape of the Dragon Boat. Waves are split and water pushes outward away from the boat. Water may come over the front but is blocked by the Drummer’s Stand, drum, and front row so less comes in. Because it comes in the front and wants to spread to the back there isn’t a lot of weight shift. Steering into waves and paddling through them is good practice. Motorboats will make wake and you can steer into it easily.

Side Approach Waves coming from the side can make the boat wobble like a wiper-blade. Anchored from the bottom the paddler’s heads get tossed side to side making them uncomfortable. This can cause them to make mistakes and capsize the boat. Paddling through the waves gives the boat a gyroscope effect balancing it in a nearly solid vertical position. Much easier on the paddler’s minds. Taking on water from the side will cause some wobbling left to right but paddling will distribute it to the rear so the rocking will stop quickly.

Angled Approach Waves on an angle add a dimension to those from the side. Waves coming at an angle will cause the head and tail of the boat to see-saw back and forth. Like a pencil between your fingers can. Left alone it will stop and the boat will be headed somewhat on course. Over steering in an effort to keep the boat going on course will worsen the see-saw effect which in turn changes your position in the waves faster than you can react. Be firm but gentile, steer a little to keep position, but don’t fight a little course change.

Rear Approach Waves from the back of the boat may surprise the crew since they can’t see them coming.

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