Safety and dragon boat racing

The Clarence Coast Dragons, as well as the entire dragon boat community are devastated by the tragedy in Currumbin, Queensland last week and commiserate with the paddler’s family.
Safety is of primary importance in our team. While rare, accidents can and do happen in dragon boat training or racing, as in many water sports. However, because of the size and design of a dragon boat, and the water conditions in which racing takes place, that is, usually placid water, dragon boating is inherently safe and a capsize especially in such conditions, is a rarity. It is the duty of all who practise the sport – competitors, race organisers, coaches and officials alike, to be aware of the potential dangers inherent in the sport; to be safety conscious and to ensure that dragon boating is conducted in a responsible manner. At each session, it is the Sweep’s responsibility to make the final check to ensure that the boat is water worthy and in racing condition and that all crew members are correctly briefed on boat handling and capsize drills. The Sweep also checks that crew members are suitably dressed for the weather conditions and not wearing anything that may impede their ability to exit the boat or swim in the event of a capsize or boat swamping.
Ideally, all members in a dragon boat crew should be able to swim at least 50 meters, but as a minimum, they must be water competent in cold and moving water and when dressed in light clothing, that is, racing dress (shorts and vest) plus waterproof top and trousers and light footwear (trainers, flip flops or similar footwear). A person’s swimming ability should be confirmed by testing, when possible, during training. Our club has put this practice into place. We have also practised re-boarding the boat after an individual falls overboard. PFD’s (Personal Floatation Devices) can be worn if needed, and are supplied by the club.
Our club performs these safety checks every time we paddle. “Safety is paramount” is our motto.
If you are thinking about joining us in this wonderful, healthy sport, please be assured that as we practise in Yamba Bay, and take part in north coast regattas, we resolutely follow safety procedures. There is so much benefit to gain from dragon boat paddling: team spirit; fun; great physical activity; focus; endurance; core body strength and friendship. If you are interested, please contact our president Gail Strickland on 6646 0234 or [email protected] We practise every Wednesday afternoon at 3.30pm, and Saturday morning at 7.30pm at Yamba Bay, next to Moby Dick. Everyone over 12 is welcome to come and try our wonderful sport.