Dragon boat FAQ

I’ve been dragon boating for eight years and recently noticed how often people inquire about it. Maybe it’s just to entertain me 🙂 Still, I thought I’d post an FAQ list.

  1. Most commonly asked: Where do you park your boat?
    Actually, we don’t own the boats; we rent, at practice and at races. It’d be sweet to own one. Want to sponsor us? (the most FAQ from a Maniac 😉 )
  2. How often do you row?
    First of all, it’s paddle. We paddle, not row (but wouldn’t that be nice to row your boat). Three times a week — the season usually starts in March and ends in September. (And all inquiry ceases. Sigh.)
  3. Are you the coxswain?
    It’s caller, not coxswain (that’s for crew and they do it backwards :p). I realize I’m small, but no, I’m strong and I paddle!
  4. How many people are on a boat?
    Usually 20 paddlers, a caller, and a tiller (person who steers the boat). Two people share a bench and each paddles one side. We switch in practice so we’re not lopsided, though everyone has side preferences.
  5. How long is a race?
    Standard race length is 500 meters and it takes bout 2 min. 15 sec. Yes, it’s that short, but it sure doesn’t feel like it on the water.
  6. How did the team start?
    I joined a team in my first year in Portland. I liked paddling but wasn’t attached to the team. I happened to be meeting a lot of new people then, including Slow Boy, and they were all interested in trying out dragon boating. With the help of friends, I started a team the next year.
  7. You named the team after yourself?
    No! I must set the record straight: Back in 2002, we were taking a vote between the Willamette Weaklings or Not N-Sync. (Hey, we were new.) The Anniemaniacs wasn’t even a contestant, but it was blurted out amidst the vote and everyone (else) instantly loved it. It actually has become a great brand name for our team. I’m proud to be a Maniac, though I don’t know how our big boys feel about being called the “Annies”.
  8. Can I join?
    Yes! Ok, that’s not commonly asked. But I really do like recruiting new people every year. Fresh faces keep the spirit alive.
  9. What is dragon boating?
    Even after I explain this all, people still ask this. We know it sounds like a sport with a small niche and inferior to something such as crew or not as accessible as kayaking, but it’s huge here in the Pacific NW, the country, even in Asia and Europe. One day, when dragon boating is in the Olympics, the Maniacs will represent USA. Just you wait.
  10. Are you guys good?
    Heck yeah! We’ve gone from terrible to one of the top teams in Portland. We are even competitive in the international festivals. The dragon boat community is clearly starting to recognize the Maniacs.
  11. Annie, why do you do it?
    The golden question that I ask myself every year. I am the one in charge and have been for seven years now. Every year is tough: getting people to practice, motivating myself to bring a cheerful face, the disappointment after bad races, the ultimate dependency on me, and realizing I cannot please 25 people all at once. But, you could ask the Maniacs who return year after year the same thing, and I think we’d have similar answers. I love paddling: it’s rhythmic, intense, and for perfectionists (like me). I love racing, and normally I’m not one to compete. I love our dedicated team; spending three days a week six months out of the year will definitely make you like family. And I love seeing how proud and happy our team is to be a Maniac. When everything clicks and we glide across the water, nothing has felt so smooth and right.

SF DB Festival '09, day 1, a first place finish.

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3 comments

  1. I actually think that dragon boating is more accessable than kayaking. The cost for equipment is a lot cheaper than kayaking, for one thing (because you don’t own your boats, need a spray skirt, etc.) I also don’t see dragon boating as being “inferior” to crew. Very few people continue with crew after college, whereas dragon boaters seem to continue indefinitely (I was very impressed by the masters division races in PDX…).

    So, just defensively – it’s coxswain (not coxin), and being strong has nothing to do with rowing in crew. I am strong, but I was a coxswain. The two things are not really correlated. Sorry – just a personal reaction to your statement… 🙂

  2. meannie · · Reply

    you know, i thought coxin looked weird. thanks for the typo fix.

    not that i know anything about crew (clearly), but it seems physically taxing on the body — enough that it’d be hard to do when you’re older.

    and ah, i was not implying that the coxswain was weak, nor our caller. but i do think the generalization is that they are small folk. i know you are a strong woman!

  3. It’s cool. 🙂

    Coxswains are usually small folk. It’s partly because of the rules. In college crew there is a minimum weight limit for coxswains (110lbs in women’s boats and 120lbs in men’s boats) to keep things relatively fair. That doesn’t mean you can’t be bigger than that, but crews like to keep the coxswain as close to the weight limit as possible so they don’t get sandbagged (what happens if you’re under-weight) and so they don’t have to lug around more than the rules say they have to…

    As for being taxing on the body… probably not any more than running, and it is a non-impact sport… I don’t know why more people don’t continue after college. Maybe it’s too hard to find a club?

    I think you guys are just trend-setters… in a few years *everyone* will know what dragon boating is! And we’ll be watching you in the Olympics! 🙂

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