General Practice Commands
Dragon Boat racing requires a high degree of responsiveness from all members for safety and competitiveness. When a boat needs to make an immediate quick manoeuver, responding timely to commands will surely help keep things safe and fun for all.
Load The Boat
Step into the boats after having put on and buckled your PFD, with everything ready to go. When getting into the boat, be sure to do so one person at a time, one foot at a time. Start by stepping as close to the middle of the boat as possible, and once both feet are in, keep your profile low – in effect, lower the center of gravity.
Back It Down
Paddlers stroke backwards in unison to reverse the boat.
Hold The Boat/Check The Boat
Action to stop the boat from moving. Plant your paddle swiftly and fully perpendicular to the gunwale and brace with your body to stop the boat from moving forward or back.
Hold! Hold! Hold!
Paddlers thrust blades vertically into the water and dig in to bring the boat to a quick stop during an emergency.
Sit Up/Easy All
Paddlers sit upright with paddles across the knees and both hands positioned properly on the paddle. Paddlers’ undivided attention is sought; all talking ceases.
Hold the paddle in the A-frame forward ready position, close to the side of the boat and blade slightly above the water, ready to enter the water on command. Position is held until next command.
Take It Away
Simply start paddling.
Let It (Her) Run
Stop paddling and hold the paddle in the sit-up position, while letting the boat continue to glide.
Steady The Boat/Brace The Boat
To stabilize the boat. Paddle blades flat on the surface of the water with blades gently feathering back and forth.
Draw (Left / Right)
The paddlers will lean out to the side and pull water (deep) towards themselves – like having lost an object and trying to scoop it back. This is essential on the starting line, or when the boat needs to make quick turns, when winds may drift the boat sideways and the steersperson is trying to line the boat up directly down the course. Often, the steersperson will only call “First Two,” or “First Three Draw Left/Right” or “Back Two/Three.” The numbers mean the seat number. “First Three Draw Left” means the first three seats draw on the left side (the left-sitting persons only as in this case, we need to draw in from left).
Pry (Left/ Right)
This command is the exact opposite of DRAW. Bury the blade deeply below the boat, with the blade’s flat surface parallel to the gunwale, and push outward.
Race Start Commands
“First Three Seats, Give Me 3 Strokes.” Steersperson commands certain seats (always paddler pair in this case) to paddle exactly 1, or 2, or 3 strokes to get the boat to alignment at the start line.
“Last Three Seats, Give Me 3 BACK Strokes.” The boat has glided across the start line and needs to back down. Steersperson commands certain seats (always paddler pair in this case) to paddle exactly 1, or 2, or 3 back strokes to get the boat to alignment at the start line.
All Boats Hold
Starter referee’s call signifying that he/she is getting alignment of all boats. Be ready and focus on your team only, to respond, the race is starting any second.
We Have Alignment/Are You Ready?
Starter referee’s call signifying that he/she HAS EXACT ALIGNMENT. You should be hearing ATTENTION from your steersperson at this time.
Attention (Please)/Ready, Ready
Paddles are in the start position (Paddles Up) when command from race starter is given. In some events, paddles are slightly in the water.
Crew starts paddling. In a race, the starter usually fires a gun, blows a horn or uses a megaphone siren. A steersperson may also use the ‘Go’ command during practices as well as at the start of a race.