All about Dragon Boat Race – a fun team building water sport experience

One summer afternoon, I received an email that read – Dragon Boat Race, a fund-raising event by the ADHD Foundation to be held at Liverpool Watersport Centre on the coming weekend.

I love the adrenaline rush that comes with participating in adventure sports and never miss a chance to engage in such fun. But a Dragon Boat Race is something that I hadn’t even heard of. I was intrigued. Then, I figured it would be something like kayaking but in a team.

I didn’t have to think twice before signing up for it. Although, just the day before I dreaded getting wet in the chilly waters of the Mersey river! (waters in the UK can be cool even in the summers).

Getting instructions on how to work with the paddles for the Dragon Boat Race

What is Dragon Boat Race

It’s a group sport where 16 people sit on either side of a long boat. Its long length and the dragon carved at its head lends the name – dragon boat. There’s another team member, a drummer who sits at the front of the boat and handles the drums to buck up the team and bring rhythm to the actions in the group.

In Dragon Boat Race, teams compete with each other from a starting point. Just like any other race, the team that covers the defined distance in shortest durations wins!

Competing in a Dragon Boat Race

We geared up in life-jackets, nominated one person to become the drummer to lead our team. We were given a quick training on how to row our paddles the right way, so we could perform well at the sport.

Since many participants are new to the sport, in all the boats, an instructor was seated at the back of the boat who was guiding the team on which actions to perform to steer the boat in the right direction.

We participated in a total of three races. Moving towards the starting point were our practice sessions. When both the teams reached the start line and were perfectly along the same line, that’s when the race began. We were made to move back and forward a few times to make sure, no team got an unfair advantage with the boat moving because of the water.

As we got a handle on the techniques, we understood that it’s the action of rowing the boat in a synchronous fashion that makes it move forward at a greater speed with moderate effort.

Not a single person in our team had ever participated (or even witnessed) a Dragon Boat Race By the third, and final race, we finally figured out the strategies by which we could have won a place in the Dragon Boat Race.

How to win a Dragon Boat Race

No one can learn how to excel at a sport simply by reading articles! However, a few tips for first-timers can come in real handy to understand a few nuances of the activity.

And sometimes, it’s the ‘losers’ who can tell better how to win a battle! So here are some of the lessons we learned the hard way. Knowing these can help know what to expect before participating in this adventure sport.

Listen to the Instructions

First of all, be a good listener. While there is no prior experience required to participate in the Dragon Boar Race, carefully listen to the instructor to make sure you understand the actions right. And not just yourself, make sure that others in your team also listen well. Remember, it’s all about team effort!

Strategize seating arrangements

Just as in any team exercise where each member has his/ her own strengths, it’s in the interest of the team to leverage upon them to out-perform the competitors.

The one who’s best at managing people should hold the drum. This way, he/she can motivate the team, and guide if someone needs to correct their actions to be in sync with the rest of the team.

The fittest people should be seated at the front of the boat, Their strength can help give momentum to the boat. Those seated in the middle too, should be able to catch up with the actions being performed by individuals in the front. Synchronized actions can help give much-needed thrust to the boat.

Also, pairing up with partners of around the same weight gives the boat a good balance.

Change Sides

While you may choose to sit alongside the same partners through all the races, it’s a good idea to change sides so your arms don’t hurt.

Go slow in the practice sessions

In an effort to get the technique right, we spent a lot of energy in the practice sessions. Later we thought, we could have saved some energy for the real race.

Take a break if you can

We participated in two races consecutively. Thinking back, a break would have helped us stretch ourselves, and rethink our strategy with the lessons we learned in the first race.

In preparation to compete for the final Dragon Boat Race

An adventure water sport with a difference

Dragon Boat Race was the first group adventure sport I did. It was fun, and most importantly, it demonstrated how working together as a team can work wonders.

This event was organised by ADHD Foundation as a fundraising event. While we got to experience something different, we also ended up raising funds for a cause, and that felt great. I admire how charities work in creative, different ways to raise funds for the causes they support.

I love staying in Liverpool and for the amazing experiences I’ve had here. Dragon Boat Race gets added to the list of some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had being in Liverpool.

I’m sure, I’ll be here next summer again, to participate in the Dragon Boat Race. But next time, a little more prepared. 🙂

P.S. None of these pictures were clicked by me! 😉 A friend happily volunteered to click a generous number of pictures for us to keep a visual record of this experience.

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