What is the purpose of this event?
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center hosts this event to encourage physical fitness and community camaraderie. Previous year's events have drawn teams from all over Northern New York -- representing hospitals, healthcare organizations, colleges, banks, and more! 
Can my team’s drummer count as one of our women?
No — you must have at least eight women paddling on a 20-paddler boat and three women paddling on a 10-paddler boat, even if your drummer is a woman as well.
What is a dragon boat? 
A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft designed to hold 10 or 20 paddlers, one drummer, and one person to steer. Stemming from ancient Chinese tradition, these boats typically contain ornamental regalia, including decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails. The 46-foot fiberglass boats are provided by Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing. Though the boats weigh 600 pounds when empty, they can weigh more than two tons when filled with a standard team! Observing these awe-inspiring vessels is an experience not to be missed — come see for yourself!
Who is sponsoring the event? 
The St. Lawrence River Dragon Boat Challenge is organized and hosted by the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. Corporate sponsorship is available at a variety of levels.
How is the event timed?
Races in the St. Lawrence River Dragon Boat Challenge are so fast and furious that we use an electronic time system. A professional timing company shoots a narrow band camera along the finish line with a time clock attached to each frame. At the end of heats, boats surge and finish within a fractional second of each other!

How much does it cost?
It depends upon what kind of organization you are. Visit our registration page to view the fees. This fee includes one coached practice session and boat rental for both the practice sessions and races on Saturday. The St. Lawrence River Dragon Boat Challenge is an open event and is free to spectators.

How are team members distributed in the boats?
Because boats are paddled rather than rowed, all paddlers face forward. View a dragon boat seat plan here . The paddlers are divided evenly on each side, and the drummer sits in the bow facing the paddlers, either rhythmically beating a drum or calling race commands. The steersman serves as a rudder, standing or kneeling in the stern while maneuvering the boat with a long steering oar. Three boats race in each heat, so steering is vital!
Do I need to know how to swim?
Each team member should be able to swim 50 meters while wearing a personal flotation device. PFDs are provided to all participants as part of the race fee and must be worn at all times during practices and races. Though PFDs are required, participants should note that water wings are optional equipment.

Who can participate?
20-Paddler Boats
Teams consist of a maximum of 24 people, including a designated team captain, 20 paddlers, a drummer, and up to three alternates. Of the 20 paddlers, eight must be women.

10-Paddler Boats
Teams consist of a maximum of 14 people, including a designated team captain, 10 paddlers, a drummer, and up to three alternates. Of the 10 paddlers, three must be women.

and all participants must be at least 18 years old in the Corporate, Community, and Non-Profit division. In the Youth division, participants must be between 14-17 years old on race day. Dragon boating isn’t about how strong or athletic you are; it’s all about how well you can paddle in unison with your team members. With all 20 paddlers working together in perfect sync, the glide is incredible!
Can youth and adult teams be combined?
No. Youth teams must be age 14-17 years and adult team paddlers must be 18 years old or older.

Where’s event being held?
All events take place on the St. Lawrence River, at Waddington Beach. See ya there!

How long / when is the race?
The 250-meter races take place the morning and afternoon of Saturday, July 13, 2019. 

Do I need to bring any equipment to race?
Nope! Dragon boats, paddles, and PFDs are all included in your race fee. All you need to bring is a smile! Oh, and maybe some sunscreen - and we'll be handing that out too!

What does the drummer do?
As an essential part of the dragon boat team, the drummer serves as the ‘pulse’ or ‘drumbeat’ for the entire team. The drummer’s role is both strategic and practical. Not only does he or she help the steersperson communicate with the crew by relaying commands to the front of the boat, but the drummer also keeps the paddlers in rhythm by matching his or her drumbeats with the strokes of the front two paddlers. On top of that, there’s an award at stake – the BEST dressed drummer. So deck your drummer out to win a beautifully handmade, original work of art!

Does my team need to provide a steersperson?
No. The steersperson for both the practice session and races will be provided for each team.

Does my team have to design and make a team uniform?
Well, no, we don’t require that teams wear uniforms; however, it has been said, “To paddle in unison, a team must be uniform.” There are special awards for the Best Dressed Drummer and the Best Team Uniform. 

What’s with the ceremonial painting and opening of the dragon’s eyes?
Painting the eyes of the dragon is an ancient and sacred Chinese tradition that has been performed for centuries. Painting the eyes signifies the awakening of the dragon, so this ceremony brings the dragon boats to life. We open the dragon’s eyes to give the boats energy, spirit and, of course, fire — watch out!
Additional Team Tips
  1. Establish a captain as the “go to” person for the group. This person will be in charge of coordinating the team’s practice sessions and making sure registration forms, the team roster, waivers and any additional materials are completed and turned in on time.
  2. Weight distribution: For maximum speed, the lightest people should be seated in the front and very back of the boat. The heaviest people should be placed in the middle.
  3. Pick a small fry for your drummer — you want someone who is light weight and not afraid to sit high up on a raised seat. Better yet, pick someone who isn’t afraid to wear some crazy paddle pants to reflect your team’s spirit and make you stand out amid the rest of the dragon boaters!.
  4. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated both before and after the races.
  5. We provide the boats, paddles, and PFDs, but you might want to bring some cushioning for your derriere. The wood dragon boat benches are downright hard, and a small seat cushion can be your best friend on race day. We recommend a gardening knee pad wrapped in a non-slip drawer liner.
  6. Prior experience is not a substitute for attending practice sessions. Since many people will never have paddled it’s important for the boat to be “full” so that you know how it will paddle/feel on race day.
sign up for updates
registration form​
team roster​​
sign your waiver​​
sponsorship info

Hosted by:

For more information:

​​ Laura Shea
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center
Corporate Sponsorship information:
CHMC Foundation