Below are some helpful resources and information about your team. Please remember, your voice matters! We wouldn't have a team without YOU! Please ask questions. All suggestions are welcome!
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The History of Dragon Boat Racing
Dragon boat racing began over 2,300 years ago on the banks of the life-sustaining rivers in the valleys of Southern China as a fertility rite performed to ensure bountiful crops. The race was held to avert misfortune and to encourage the rains needed for prosperity; it was also an occasion of sacrifice to the water deity, the Dragon.
Over the centuries a second story was integrated to give the celebration a dual meaning. Chinese history describes the fourth century B.C. as the Warring States Period; it was a time of shifting alliances and much treachery. In a kingdom called "Chu," there lived a great patriot and poet by the name of Qu Yuan who was beloved by the people. He championed political reform and truth and was therefore banished from the kingdom by the king who had fallen under the influence of the corrupt ministries. Wandering the countryside, Qu Yuan composed some of China’s greatest poetry expressing his fervent love for his country and his deep concern for her future. When the Chu kingdom was overtaken and ruined at the hands of a rival kingdom, Qu Yuan leaped into the Mi Lo River holding a big rock in a display of his heartfelt sorrow. Upon learning of Qu Yuan's death, the people raced to the river in their fish boats in a vain attempt to save him. They beat on drums and splashed their oars in the water trying to keep the fish away from his body. The re-enactment of the villagers racing out to save Qu Yuan is dragon boat racing today.
Dragon boat racing is fast becoming a global phenomenon. It is an annual event held in over 45 countries around the world. Traditionally it is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, but today most races are held between May and October. Today, dragon boat racing clubs and associations can be found in such countries as China, the Philippines, Australia, Germany, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, and England. In North America, there are over a hundred dragon boat clubs and associations. The global dragon boat community is currently working to become an exhibition sport in the Olympics.
Since 1999, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and the City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island have hosted the Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival. The Rhode Island Dragon Boat Race and Taiwan Day Festival are modeled after the world-famous Dragon Boat Festivals held around the world.
The Boat - Roles and Responsibilities
Roles and Responsibilities
Paddler - The Paddlers are the engine. With their paddles, they move the boat. It's important to listen to the Steers Person at all times. Each paddler has a different role depending on where they sit in the boat (see below). Main goal - stay in time!
Steers Person - The Steers Person has many roles. They steer the boat. They coach a practice session. They’re in charge of the safety and well being of everyone on the boat. Let's repeat the sentence from above - It's important to listen to the Steers Person at all times.
Drummer - The drummer is not only our cheerleader, but responsible for keeping an eye on things. They communicate to the entire boat, while focusing that communication on the pacers. If it looks like the team is breaking up, they’ll tell the pacers to settle the pace.
Seats in the Boat
Pacers or Strokes - First 6 seats. They set the speed of the boat. They’re moving stagnant water in the front. They don’t have to dig their paddles as deep to move the boat.
Engine Room - The next 8 seats. These paddlers tend to be considered “the muscle”. They typically have the power to launch the boat forward.
Rocket - The last 6 seats. The water moves fast in the back. They’re right behind the engine room. They have to dig their paddles down deep, below that fast water to make an impact.
Commands You’ll Often Hear
Married couple Carlos Costa and Rachel Schiefen had a vision. Both had been paddling for years, but they wanted more. They wanted a team of their own. In 2018 that vision became a reality when they created Century Dragon Boat Club.
The team launched their first pool practice session in January at the North Providence Pool and Fitness Facility with only 4 members. The outdoor season started in May at Festival Pier in Pawtucket RI. The home of the annual RI Chinese Dragon Boat Races. Although the team was small, we were able to attend our first race.
Some changes were made. We moved our pool practice location to McDermott Pool in Warwick RI. We also moved our outdoor practice location to Providence Marina. This was the best decision we ever made. We have the best practice location in the state! Providence Marina gives us full use of their docks, enough room for our 2 boats, a spot to store our equipment and access to a full bathroom. The marina is located in the heart of the city. Allowing us to paddle down the Providence River. The views are spectacular! The foot traffic on the Pedestrian Bridge and along the waterfront provide visibility to potential new members. The city also allows for many after practice get-togethers. Our growth in 2019 allowed us to participate in 3 races; Springfield MA, Woonsocket RI and Pawtucket RI.
Covid-19 hit. We held a few pool practice sessions, and then everything shut down in March 2020.
In the summer we made our return, but it had some challenges. We had to rebuild the team. With hard work and determination, the team grew. We ended the 2021 season with a bang! We only participated in one festival (Springfield MA), but smashed our prior 200 meter time of 1:17 with a 1:07.
This was our best season yet. Placing 2nd in C Division at The RI Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival and placing 3rd overall in Laconia New Hampshire at Gilda’s Club Dragon Boat Festival with our best time ever of 59.11.
We changed our pool practice location to a more central spot in the state. Fox Point Boys & Girls Club in Providence. This was a huge success. We averaged 24 members per pool practice, where we would average 8 in the past. Today we’re up to over 40 active members and we’re always looking to expand. Membership growth leads to greater opportunities….more races, more activities, more fun! With this expansion we’ll need more help. If anyone is interested in learning how to coach, steer or likes event planning, please speak up! April 2023 we had 12 team members head to Florida to participate in our first dragon boat training camp held by GWN.
What will you help us accomplish!
Member Restrictions and Limitations
Please notify the board 30 days in advance if you are planning to race with another team. Failing to do so may result in losing your seat in any future races and/or forfeiting your membership fee. The board has the discretion to modify the rules depending on the situation.