- Wow - dragon boating looks really hard. Do I need to be super fit?
Not at all! You will need to have a reasonable level of fitness to compete in a race, but stamina is something you build up over time when you train with the crew. It doesn't matter if you are unfit when you start out because we'll work on that together in a friendly, highly-supportive environment.
- How often do you race?
Even though we train throughout the year, the dragon boat season runs from August to April. During this time, there will generally be one regatta a month in various locations in Sydney and away (eg. Central Coast and Canberra). The most high profile is the Chinese New Year regatta in Darling Harbour in February and the season culminates in the State Titles at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith in April.
Regattas are the team's chance to put into practice what we've learned in training and pit ourselves against the best of the best in NSW. Races are mostly either 250m or 500m. They're fast and furious - but a whole lot of fun, too!
- Gosh, you guys train 3 times a week! What if I can't make it that often?
We completely understand that lives can be very busy with work, relationships, friends and family. If you can't make it to training every session, that's OK - just make it as often as you can. Of course, the more you come, the more you'll get out of it and the better paddler you will be, so we'll encourage you to come as often as possible.
If you need to take a short hiatus from training due to travel, illness or injury, let us know and we'll help you get back into the swing of things when you return.
- If there are two paddlers for every row, don't you get really big on one side?
No, we make sure that after every set, we swap sides (you or your partner stands up and you swap seats) before doing the set again on the other side. It is important that we are ambidextrous since we will perform better if we don't tire out one side.
- What can I expect at a training?
Training starts out with on on-land warm-up where we stretch our muscles and get our hearts pumping with some light exercises for about 10 mins. We'll line up in our boat positions before lifting the boat/s off their racks and into the water.
Safety considerations are paramount so we'll take you through the safety procedures and 'buddy system' before we go out. If you are concerned for any reason, we can supply you with a life jacket.
We load into the boat back-to-front (that is, with the back rows boarding first). We'll do a 5min warm up on the water - some light paddling - before the training session starts. The coaches prepare different drills every session so it's never boring. Drills may have an emphasis on technique, power or endurance, depending on what we need work on. We might do some race starts and race practices in preparation for an upcoming regatta. We'll round off the water session with a warm down before getting the boat out of the water and doing our on-land warm down stretches.
An average dragon boat session goes for about 2 hours including on-land time. Don't worry if you can't paddle the whole time we're on the water - just pull out your paddle and get back in when you can. You'll build up your stamina over the first month or two.
- How much does it cost?
Sydney Tsunami Dragon Boat Club is a not-for-profit organisation which has a strong fund-raising ethos which means that the cost to our members remains very modest. Membership to Sydney Tsunami (including insurance, race fees for the entire season and membership to Dragon Boats New South Wales and the Australian Dragon Boats Federation - our two parent bodies) is only $270 per year (much cheaper than a gym!). On top of that, you'll need to buy a race rashie for $65 (subsidised by the club) and either buy a paddle (from $70) or rent one ($30 per year).
But remember, your first three sessions are FREE! Come down for a no-obligation free trial!
- What is the culture of the club like?
True to our motto of 'Serious Fun', Sydney Tsunami is a notoriously friendly bunch, who are only fierce on the water. We pride ourselves on being fun-loving, good natured and importantly, 'good sports'. We like to win, but we don't try to win at all costs. We are also proud of our history of volunteering within the greater dragon boating community, contributing to our DBNSW Club of the Year Award in 2005/2006 and again in 2011.
We are super-supportive of our 'newbies' and definitely won't bite. But just don't take our word for it - come down and meet us yourself. We hope that you'll fit right in, but if you don't, feel free to try out a few other clubs to see which one suits you best.
- Is dragon boating a big sport in Australia?
Dragon boating is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia. NSW has the largest population of dragon boaters with more than 2,000 people participating. There are more than 20 teams in NSW, mostly training in Blackwattle Bay with a few in Rhodes, Eastern Sydney and Northern Beaches.
- But what if it rains?
Dragon boaters are made of tough stuff, and yes, we even go out in the rain! In fact, it can be quite pleasant as the water is often calm. You're bound to get wet, anyway, you see. :)
But seriously, if it's raining outside, you should turn up anyway where we'll make an assessment prior to getting on the water. Often the weather will blow over by the time training starts, but you just don't know until you get there. We will never go out in dubious weather conditions (white caps or lightning being the main indicators) which may pose a safety risk to the team. And if it does get cancelled, we'll head to breakfast or dinner at a pub instead!