Dragon Boat US

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A Steersperson guides the boat from the back using a long 9 foot steering oar. The steering oar is kept in place by two vertical pins or a U bolt that is mounted on a wood outrigger that extends out about 14 inches on the left side of the boat directly behind the Steerspersons platform. Sometimes a rope is added loosely tying the oar in place to help stabilize it, prevent it from slipping out yet allow free movement.

Most Steerspersons prefer to stand in the boat. This gives the Steersperson a clear view of the course and of the team members in the boat. Standing gives a clear line of sight between the Steersperson and the Drummer enhances communication. Standing allows vocal commands to be clearly projected down the boat. Standing enables the steers’ person to use their body weight to aid in managing the steering oar.

Standing gives the added advantage of allowing the Steersperson to use their body weight to help trim the boat so it is riding level in the water. A boat with an inexperienced team may be well trimmed while stationary or paddling lightly then change quite dramatically during a race start as team members lean forward and the upper part of their bodies lean out of the boat in full race mode. You ability to quickly shift your weight to compensate can save the day.

The steers’ person stance is very important. Usually one foot is placed slightly ahead of the other with feet shoulder width apart to give stability both fore and aft and side to side. Knees should be slightly bent and flexible, back straight, shoulders square. To steer well you must learn to be able to utilize the whole steering platform moving back and forward maximizing the range of motion you have with the steering oar. The steers’ person is looking forward past the front of the boat down the course. When the paddlers start to paddle full force, it can be quite a big jolt. There have been instances where a Steersperson has flown off the back of the boat without the crew noticing until they paddle in some strange direction.

The higher advantage point lets the Steersperson keep their eyes on the horizon line or a spot in the distance to focus on to help keep the boat straight. Looking back, down or to the side, taking your eyes off the spot in front can easily put you off into another direction quickly. Slight movements with the oar will give great changes in direction, so be cautious. It sounds silly but it is easy to get lost on a racecourse. One of the most important things to do when arriving at the start line is to look down the course to the finish then look past the finish to a spot on land find a visual marker such as a tree or a car that you can steer toward, This becomes your reference point while steering. If you start to feel unsure or confused look for that point, are you still heading directly for it if not you have wavered of course, find your reference point and steer to it.

Steering like driving a car it requires practice to develop as good sense of balance, judgment of distance, speed and water conditions. Some Steerspersons find it more comfortable to sit down while steering. We recommend that you practice steering standing. If you notice the sound of a bull horn from the race marshals boat "LISTEN" he or she may well be trying to save your race for you. If they tell you you are off course and to move left or right odds are they are right. You may be lost and not realize it. Do exactly what they say. They will try to guide you back on course rather than disqualify your team. If another dragon boat appears to closing on you or crossing your path again it may not be them it may be you who have lost your way. Look for your marker if you cannot see it when you look straight down the length of your boat your are the one that is lost. Turn away from the approaching boat so you do not interfere with their race, find your marker and lane

The steering oar must be buried sufficiently in the water to enable the Steersperson to steer. At the same time keeping the oar out of the water as much as possible will provide the least resistance as the boat glides along the water. Be ready to plunge the oar back in quickly if the boat begins to veer off course. If the water is turbulent and unpredictable then the blade will need to be in the water. Steering in flat water with a light team is easier. As you progress in ability you will be able to mange heavier water and a wider variety of teams. Practice Practice Practice.

The Steersperson is the most important person in the boat. It is important that both the Steersperson and the crew understand this. While underway, the Steersperson is in charge of the vessel out ranking all other personal in the boat including the team captain. If there is any action, be it waves, weather, other boaters on the water or misbehaving crew member that the Steersperson feels puts the boat at risk return to the dock.

The Steersperson is 100% responsible for the safety of the crew. The Steersperson has the best view of any obstructions on the water and must make the required commands to the crew to maneuver the boat. In race situations the Steersperson must also be able to read wind and be knowledgeable of how the boat reacts in certain conditions. It is not good enough that the Steersperson can just keep the boat straight, he or she must be able to bring the boat to the line in whatever wind conditions and make the maneuvers or commands to hold the boat on the line. Responsibilities: the Steersperson is responsible for

 The safety of the crew

 The safety of the boat

 The safety of other water users

 The image your boat presents to the public


 Do not assume your crew know what they are doing

 Do not assume your crew know what you are doing

 Do not assume the other boats know what they are doing

Management: the Steersperson must:

 Know where the nearest working phone is and that it gets the right city's 911.

 Know where the safety kit is.

 Know how many people are on your boat

 Know who is on the boat. Create a list,

 Inspect the dragon boat and all related gear to ensure all is in good condition. If you are inspected by the harbor police it is you the Steersperson they will look to for answers and fine if the boat is lacking in anyway

 Verify all safety gear is present and operational (spare paddle, buoyant throw rope, bale bucket, whistle, flashlight, PDF for every person on the boat) All equipment must be in good working order.

 There must be a cell phone, walkie- talkie or marine radio onboard the boat or accompanying safety boat or a similarly equipped person on shore monitoring the boat. The communication device must be water proof or protected from the water.

 Ensure that someone on land is aware the team is going out for a practice and knows what time they will be back

 Assess the water and the weather conditions are safe to go out in and will remain safe for the duration of the practice

 Be aware of any currents, tides, wave conditions that may arise and how to manage same

 Ensure all crew members are aware of and understand safety procedures and what to do in the event of a capsize or emergency.

 Ensure all crew members understand the chain of command

 Ensure all crew members know the command calls and the expected response

 Be aware of any special conditions that may apply to an individual paddler


 Be able to manage the team and exercise authority over team members.

 Ensure all people on the boat are wearing PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices) and that they are properly done up

 Ensure all team members understand the buddy system and use it

Physical Skills: A Steersperson must be able to

 Load the boat

 Balance the boat

 Maintain a straight course at full racing speed with a full crew of 18-20 paddlers plus Drummer

 Steer a figure eight course around two buoys at normal speed with a full crew, in both directions, or in the absence of buoys, steer a set course which includes both left and right angled turns.

 Execute sideways maneuvers without going forwards.

 Turn the boat through 360° in both directions without the use of paddlers

 Propel the boat forward in a straight line without the use of paddlers

 Propel the boat in reverse for 50m with the use of paddlers

 Execute an emergency stop from racing speed to full stop

 Execute safe approaches to a jetty/pontoon/docks in still and windy conditions

 Manage the unloading of the team members

 Secure the boat and ensure all gear is put away correctly

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