Team Registration Call: (256) 543-1898

What You Should Know
General Information

Prepare for Fun on the Water!

  • Learn more about dragon boat racing at
  • Get prepared by hydrating and exercising in advance. Keep in mind this is an anaerobic sport. Hydration is very important. For more about hydration, read more about it on or check out our hydration information.
  • Be prepared for rigorous exercise. Don't have much time to work out in advance? Use quick exercise bursts.
  • When it heats up outside, acclimate your body to the weather and use less air conditioning.
  • Before your practice session, you should know you WILL get wet. It is a water sport. If you paddle on the right side, the right side of your body will be wet. If you paddle left, the left side will be wet. Please dress and prepare accordingly.
  • You may bring water into the boats at your practice.
  • Practices and races will happen rain or shine. Lightening and other severe weather will delay practices and races.

Race Day:

  • Report to your Team Tent an hour before the race.
  • Your team will report to the marshaling area 20 minutes before your first race.
  • Marshaling officials and volunteers will instruct your team to line up, and then alert you when it's time to load the boat.
  • You will paddle once in the morning and again in the second heat. You will paddle a third time if your team qualifies to race in the finals.
  • Bring plenty of water and healthy snacks. Food will also be available for sale on site.
  • You may consider also bringing games to play between races, such as a football, Frisbee, etc.

Shuttle will be available on race day so you can park at Convention Center and Tourism parking lots.

Team Information


Practices are vital to the Dragon Boat experience. Practice time will help your team become familiar with the boat and learn the technique, as well as master timing. The more team members showing for practice, the better your team performs on race day.

Each team gets to practice at the Riverwalk Park with trained coaches the week up to race day. Download our registration form follow instructions on the form and submit it before the deadline of Friday, August 8, 2014. Keep in mind – practice time requests will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

What to Wear:

  • You WILL get wet. Wear clothing you do not mind getting wet.
  • Comfortable, quick drying shorts and dri-fit shirts are most convenient (cotton tends to stick to your skin).
  • Sport sandals, or water shoes are recommended such as Tevas, Crocs, etc. (Tennis shoes are too heavy).
  • You may wear your own U.S. coast Guard approved life vest (or they are provided at practices and on race day).
  • Hat or visor to keep the sun out of your eyes.
  • Sunscreen/ sunglasses
  • In case of rain, bring rain gear
  • Consider bringing a towel and extra change of clothes

Race Format

Each team will race at least two times on race day. You will get a race schedule at the mandatory team captain meeting showing what time your team races in the first heat. After the first heat, all teams will be seeded according to their race times for the second heat. After both heats, the top 12 teams with the best overall times (based on average of two races) will race for the championship. The best times from the final races will determine Gold, Silver and Bronze winners.


You may print out your waiver form here. Participants under 18 must have parent/guardian sign their waiver.

What to Bring

  • Each team will have tent space in the Athlete's Village labeled with your company/team name.
  • Chairs, tables, decorations, snacks, footballs, sunscreen, hat, garbage bag for your tent area, towels, comfortable shoes, change of clothes if you do not want to be wet all day.

What NOT to bring

Alcohol. It would severely dehydrate you and make paddling dangerous. Please learn more in the rules and regulations. Hydration is very important. Read more about it on or check out our hydration information.

Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity
3644 Rainbow Dr.
Rainbow City, AL 35906

Tips For Teams

Basic Guidelines

Conduct in the Boat: There should be no/minimal talking once your team is in the boat. The drummer and steersperson must be able to communicate with the team and each other at all times, and all team members need to be able to hear the commands. Paddles straight up in the air if you need to draw attention to yourself in case of emergency.

Buddy System: Make certain that each of your team members knows who is sitting beside them in case the boat swamps/capsizes, which is highly unlikely. Teammates will be responsible for each other's safety until rescue arrives. STAY WITH THE BOAT!

Life Jackets: Everyone must wear a life jacket during practice and on Race Day.

Drummer: The drummer should attend practice, if possible. He or she will assist in setting the timing for the team and can be an excellent source of motivation and inspiration during practices and on Race Day.

How To Sit In The Boat: Outside hip forward. Inside hip back. Outside leg extended along the gunwale (inside top rail of the boat). Inside foot under the seat or braced effectively and comfortably

Seven Steps of the Dragon Boat Paddling Technique

  • Rotation
  • Reach Extension
  • Top Arm Drive (stab the water)
  • Catch-powerfully drive the paddle into the water at approx. a 45 degree angle, burying the entire blade into the water-your hand should get wet.
  • Pull water with the entire blade until you get to just behind your knee
  • Exit -get that paddle straight up and out of the water quickly, no further back than your hip
  • Recovery -snap the paddle back into the paddles up position for the next catch

Dragon Boat Paddling Commands

  • Paddles Up: Be ready to paddle. All paddlers with paddles above the water (3-6 inches from the surface) ready to enter the water.
  • Take it Away: Begin paddling.
  • Let it Run: Stop paddling and let the boat glide.
  • Hold the Boat or Stop the Boat: Place paddles in the water, with paddle pointed straight down, blade submerged. It will bring the boat to a stop. If you hear the command, "Hold hard," quickly put your paddle straight down and then back it up one stroke.
  • Back it Down: Paddle backwards.
  • Draw (left or right side): Initiates a turn using draw strokes by the designated paddlers. Can also be used to get the boat closer to something, a dock, for example.
  • Stabilize the boat: Place your paddle blade on top of the water and hold it there. This stabilizes the boat. It is needed when anyone stands up in the boat to change position, etc.
  • Note: Your coach/steerer will brief you about these commands before your practice. In the boat, when the coach is talking, please continue to paddle and listen. Never stop paddling unless your coach says "Let it run."


    Gadsden City Docks & Boardwalk - Habitat Dragon Boat Festival
    300 Block of Rainbow Drive, Gadsden, AL 35901

    View Larger Map