Redland Sea Dragons
Redlands Sea Dragons Dragon Boat Club began its paddling journey by leasing a wooden boat from the Gold Coast Chinese Dragon Boat Club. The boat was stored at the Redland Bay Amateur Fishing Club and we had to carry it a fair way to an improvised ramp by the coast. We had some great times, especially when the tide was out, trying to get the boat to the water which could be 50-100m from the shoreline. Whilst the lifting and carrying wasn't much fun we had some fun times getting stuck in the mud and losing the odd shoe! Through this we realised that dragon boating is not only a great outdoor activity but a great team spirit developed and created the foundations of the friendly and co-operative group of people we are today.
After a while we built a small two wheeled trailer which help us transport the boat. We grew from around 20 members to 40 members in the first year. We applied for and received a grant of $29,832.61 from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund which allowed us to build three wooden dragon boats and buy our first fibreglass Champion boat. During 2007-2008 we grew to around 80 members and spent countless hours getting the boats ready. They were launched with a beautiful ceremony in June attended by the Mayor of Redland City. Since then we have maintained an average of 50-60 members and we have been able to buy another Champion boat. All 3 of our homemade boats are now sold and have received further grants to buy new boats, one 20 seater and a 10 seater. Redlands Council have also gave us a parcel of land for our own use which we have fenced, put a small shed on and have installed a solar powered lighting system. We have applied for further grants to build a larger shed to house our boats.
Our club is committed to participating in all Queensland Dragonboat Federation (QDBF) calendar activities. These include team regattas, corporate regattas, long distance competitions, state championships and we are hoping next year to make it through to the Australian National Dragon Boat Championships. There is also a strong social side and several members paddle with us purely for fun.
What is dragon boating?
A dragon boat is a long (approx 12 metres) and narrow canoe style boat used in the team paddling sport.
For racing events, dragon boats are always rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails and are required to carry a large drum aboard.
The standard crew 22, comprising 20 paddlers in pairs facing toward the bow of the boat, one drummer or caller at the bow facing toward the paddlers and one steerer or sweep at the rear of the boat
The drummer and drumming
The drummer or a caller leads the crew throughout a race with the rhythmic beating of a drum to indicate the timing and frequency of paddling strokes (that is, the cadence, picking up the pace, slowing the rate, etc.)
The caller may issue commands to the crew, and generally exhorts the crew to perform at their peak. A caller/drummer is mandatory during racing events, but if he or she is not present during training, it is typical for the steerer to direct the crew.
The paddlers sit facing forwards, and use a specific type of paddle. The leading pair of paddlers, called "strokes," set the pace for the team.
It is critical that all paddlers are synchronized. Each paddler should synchronize with the paddler diagonally in front of them. This ensures that the paddling pace is balanced and all energy is spent on moving the boat forward. The direction of the dragon boat is set by the helm, not the paddlers. The lead paddlers are responsible for synchronizing themselves.
The sweep, known also as the coxswain, helm, steersman, steersperson, steerer, or tiller, controls the dragon boat with a steering oar similar in function to a tiller, which is mounted at the rear of the boat.
The steerer may work with the drummer to call out commands during a race. The responses of the oar are opposite to the direction they take - if the steerer pulls the oar right, or into the boat, the boat will turn left, and if they push out, or left, the boat turns right.
During a race, an experienced steerer will be able to steer the dragon boat effectively according to the wind, the wake of other boats, and other factors to achieve optimum speed.
The steerer must constantly be aware of the boat's surroundings. The steerer has the power to override the caller at any time during the race (or the coach during practice) if the safety of the crew is threatened in any way.
(Acknowledgments to Wikipedia)