Dragon Boat Racing at TsaiChuan.com

Dragon Boat Racing Rules

Dragon Boat Racing is a very competitive sport and knowledge of the rules often spells victory or defeat.

Though rules may vary from federation to federation or regatta to regatta, here are general dragon boat rules:

  • Distance
    Races are held in the following distances - 200m, 500m and 1000m or 2000m turn races

  • Racing Classes
    Classes are usually organized based on based on age and gender. The usual Racing Classes are Open, Women's or Mixed.

    • Open Class - the primary class of racing. There are no restrictions on crew composition, or age except that competitors (including drummers) must be 12 years of age or older.
    • Women's Class - for all female crews, of any age except that competitors (including drummers) must be 12 years of age or older. Drummer and Steerer, sweep, or Helm must be female.
    • A Mixed Class crew usually consists of a maximum of 10 male paddlers, minimum of 1 male paddler and a minimum of 18 paddlers in the boat. All competitors (including drummers) must be 12 years of age or older. A Drummer and Steerer, sweep, or Helm can be either.
  • Racing Divisions
    Divisions are usually organized based on the crew's age. Junior Division crews must usually be between 12-18 years old, while Grand Masters Division crews should be at least 50 years old.

  • Crew and Team Composition
    A dragon boat crew normally consists of:

    • For the Standard Racing Boat (DB22) a minimum of eighteen (18) and a maximum of twenty (20) paddlers; one (1) Steerer, (sweep or helm) and one (1) Drummer and four (4) reserves; giving a minimum total of twenty (20) and a maximum total of twenty-two (22) Racers in a boat, and total twenty six (26) on a crew list
    • For the Small Racing Boat (DB12) the crew shall consist of ten (10) paddlers one (1) Steerer, (sweep or helm) and one (1) Drummer and four (4) reserves; giving a maximum total of twenty-two (12) Racers in a boat and total sixteen (16) on a crew list.
  • Boat Speicifacttion
    Only a matched fleet of 12 or more IDBF approved specification dragon boats are used.

  • Paddle Specification
    Only IDBF spec 202a paddles are accepted. These paddles usually carry the IDBF logo and registration number. If not it will be at the discretion of the marshals to reject any paddles not carrying proper identification.

  • Means of propulsion
    Dragon Boats shall be propelled solely by means of single bladed paddles. These paddles shall not be fixed to the boat in any way, with the exception of the paddle used by the steerer (sweep or helm), which as it is used in the manner of a rudder, may be supported within the framework of the boat.

  • Boat/Lane Numbers
    Each dragon boat shall carry a vertical number board, which shall act as boats identification number for the duration of the race. This number shall also indicate the Lane Number of the Racing Lane in which the boat will race in.

  • Boat Number Boards
    The Boat number Board shall be fixed to the bow of the Dragon Boat in such a manner that it can be clearly seen by the Finish Line officials. The minimum size of the Number is 33cm x 23cm wide on a Number Board measuring 60 cm high and 46cm wide. The color of the plate and the Number on it is not specified but the color scheme should be such that the number can be clearly identified by the Finish Line officials over a distance of ninety (90) meters.

  • Boat Weights
    Irrespective of any minimum weight for a dragon boat laid down in these Regulations, (the standard weight being 250kg) the difference in weight between boats should not exceed ten (10) Kilograms

  • Racing Course
    The course shall be capable of providing a straight stretch of water as flat and as still as can be obtained over a distance that will permit at least 1000 meter race in one direction.

  • Racing Lanes
    The course at the start and finish shall permit a clear width of at least nine (9) meters for each dragon boat to race in. This width per boat shall be known as a Racing Lane. The width of a championship course should ideally allow at least six (6) boats to race, in lanes from 13.5m to 15m wide lanes (maximum) with alternately a maximum of nine (9) boats 10m lanes. A return lane of at least 9 meters, on either side of the Racing Lanes, should also be provided. In a non-championships competition the Racing Course shall be wide enough to allow, as a minimum, three (3) boats to race in 9m lanes. In all competitions Lane 1 shall be the lane nearest to the location of the Finish Line Judges.

  • Start and Finish
    Start and Finish shall be at right angles to the Racing Lanes an at least 90 meters in length. They shall be marked off of the water on both sides of the course and similar static markings shall be constructed every 200 or 250 meters, as appropriate, between the Start and Finish.