June 16, 2016

Race Rules

Fundamental Race Rules

SAFETY: The first priority of all competitors is the safety of their crew, all other crews, and volunteers involved.
FAIR PLAY: Any Dragon Boat Crew or competitor who attempts to win a race by other than honourable means, or who deliberately breaks the Race Rules, or who disregards the honourable nature of the rules shall face disqualification from the competition.

Race Rule Adjustments

Adjustments to the race course, times, race schedule, rules and the cancellation of race heats, may occur due to a number of circumstances including weather, insufficient daylight, water condition (flow rate), safety, etc. These adjustments are a part of the event and are at the sole discretion of the Race Officials and are final, without appeal and without refund.


Race Divisions


Paddlers are all female, respectively, with steersperson and drummer of either gender.


Boat crew must be comprised of at least 8 male and 8 female paddlers, with the balance of the crew being either gender.


Paddlers are permitted to use their own paddles provided they conform to the IDBF PS202a Racing Paddle specification (carbon fiber paddles will be allowed).

Friction tape and wax may be used on your own personal paddles only.

Paddlers are permitted to use their own PFDs provided they are approved by the Department of Transport (DOT), Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) or Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), except for “self inflating jackets”. U.S. citizens may also use U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs, except for “self inflating jackets”.

All personally owned PFDs may be checked by the Race Officials at any time to ensure that they meet the approved specifications.

Seat liners/foam/seat pads up to 15mm made of a soft material, such as form or neoprene can be used. Cox Vox speaker system will be allowed on the boat to be used by Drummer and Steersperson. Signaling devices including radio communications or other electronic items and any noise-making devices (whistles, rattles, air horns, etc.) are prohibited from use during the races.

Stopwatches and head mounted cameras are permitted in the boat.

Water bottles are not permitted in the boat.


Team Marshalling:

Each team is responsible for marshalling 45 minutes prior to their posted race commencement.

Each team is responsible for marshalling 45 minutes prior to their posted race commencement.

Marshalled teams should congregate at the west end of the festival grounds.

Race Officials will direct teams towards the marshalling tent. Failure to marshal when called upon may result in disqualification from the race. All team members MUST be marshalled in order to participate in the race.

Teams will line up in the marshalling tent in three lines, one line per team. Lines will correspond with lanes assigned for the race.

Marshalling personnel will instruct one team at a time to pick up their PFDs and paddles.

Head Marshal will verify team, lane assignment and wristbands for each paddler, steersperson and drummer.

Teams should be placed in reverse bench order (steersperson, bench 10, bench 9, etc.) to allow for easier loading of boats on the docks.

No team members are to approach the docks until instructed to do so by marshalling personnel.

PFDs must be worn and properly secured at all times while in the competition area (ramp and docks).

Non-compliance may result in penalties and/or disqualification.

Boat Loading

All team members must follow the instructions of the dock crews. Failure to do so could result in penalties or team disqualification from the race.

Steersperson and drummer will hold the dragon boat until all benches are loaded.

Teams will load according to bench order which is: 5, 6, 4, 7, 3, 8, 2, 9, 1, 10, Steersperson, Drummer.

Once a team has loaded, they are to wait for instructions to leave the dock.

Dock personnel will untie the boat and walk the boat down the dock, pushing the nose out.

Once loaded, no person shall leave the boat until it returns to the dock and instructions to unload have been issued.

Race Staging Area

Upon clearing the dock, all boats are to head without delay to the race staging area.

Boats will proceed in single file toward the south shore using a left turn and then steer between the south race course buoy(s), and the south shore.

You must keep clear of all boats that are racing and do not overtake another boat proceeding to the race staging area.

No practice race starts, stretching or delays are permitted on route to the race staging area.

Failure to proceed directly could result in race disqualification or a ten (10) second penalty to be added to the team’s race time result at the discretion of the race officials.

Do not travel through the Race Course or down the north shore at any time – THIS WILL RESULT IN RACE DISQUALIFICATION.

All boats are to wait on the south shore, east side of Louise McKinney walking bridge until the Starter instructs the boats to approach the Start Line.

Travelling downstream of the Staging Area may result in disqualification.

Prepare to race by getting into your lane and start positions.

Lane positions are:

  • Lane One (1): North Shore side
  • Lane Two (2): Centre Lane
  • Lane Three (3): South Shore side

Lane signs will be posted from the Starter’s bridge and course marker buoys will be set at the start line in the water.

A 50 meter buoy will signify the False Start distance.

Buoys will indicate the out of bounds lines and four buoys will be set at the finish line. Boats must finish the race in their respective assigned lanes.

START LINE: A surveyed plane, determined visually by sighting across shore-base alignment marks.
FINISH LINE: A surveyed plane marked by two markers: One marker on the north shore and one marker on the south shore. Floating buoys and any other markers on the watercourse serve ONLY as guides and approximate indicators of the true standard and are subject to current drifts and wind movement.

Floating buoys and any other markers on the watercourse serve ONLY as guides and approximate indicators of the true standard and are subject to current drifts and wind movement.

Out-of-bound Areas: All other waters in which dragon boats are not permitted to traverse during the Competition.

All dragon boats must maintain a safe distance of two (2) meters (“clear water”) between each other while racing.

Any encroachment or violation by a team may result in a penalty or disqualification from the race.

In the event of a collision or damage, the team at fault will be liable for the entire cost of the damages.

False Starts

A false start is considered when, before the starting signal sounds:

Any boat is out ahead of the rest of the Start Line.

Any boat is already moving ahead and/or being paddled ahead after the “ATTENTION” command is given.

Any other condition arises, that in the opinion of the Officials or Starter compromise safety or a fair start.

False Starts will be signaled by three air horn signals after the start signal.

The chase boat on the 50m mark will attempt to move in front of the boats and wave the red flag if necessary.

All boats must stop and proceed back to the start line. The Drummer and the Steersperson are responsibile to instruct the crew to STOP when a False Start has been called.

Once all crews have returned to the start, the Starter will identify the crew or crews responsible for the False Start and warn them of the offence.

If the same crew causes two (2) False Starts, the Starter will exclude them from the race.

Any crew that fails to return to the Start Line immediately after a False Start will be awarded a five (5) second time penalty or alternatively excluded from the race at the Official’s discretion.

Conditions for Restart:

  1. False start
  2. One or more boats have a clear advantage at the start of the race over another boat(s).
  3. Equipment failure or a collision in the first 50m of the race.

There will be no grounds for re-races once all boats have passed the 50 meter mark, except one that is initiated by the Race Director and Head Judge under extraordinary circumstances.

Mid Race

Teams must stay in their assigned lanes for the entire race.

Any boat that fails to keep within its assigned racing lane will be warned by the Race Course Marshal.

If such warnings are ignored, the team(s) receiving the warning, risk time penalties or disqualification.

If in the opinion of the Race Course Marshal or the Head Judge that the crew has left their racing lane, impeded another crew or has gained an advantage thereby, which has materially affected the result of the race, disqualification or a time penalty of five (5) seconds may be awarded.

A steersperson may signal the Race Course Marshal that a boat is impeding or encroaching by raising his arm and the Race Course Marshal will look at the situation and take appropriate action.

A penalty of five (5) seconds may be applied if the Race Course Marshal agrees that a dragon boat has been impeded or encroached upon.

In the event of dragon boats colliding, the Race Course Marshal shall determine which dragon boat encroached and caused the collision. This information will be radioed to the Head Judge and a decision will be made as to the penalty assessed. The decision of the Head Judge is final.

Wash riding or wake riding is not permitted. That is, to gain an advantage from the wake or wash of another boat by paddling across the angle of its bow wave and gain an increase in speed by riding the forward face of the wave.

The penalty for each instance of wake riding is a five (5) second penalty.

To avoid wash riding, crews must stay in the middle of their lane.

Any boat that travels outside of the race course may be disqualified.

Race Finish

A boat shall complete the race when the nose of the boat crosses the finish line.

A team cannot finish a race until all crew members who started the race are present in the boat.

All boats must cross the finish line in the original lane assigned.

Once the team has crossed the finish line, check for clearance and proceed to paddle back towards the docks.

Await instruction from the Dock Master or dock crew before docking the boat.

Boat Docking

Teams should start to bail the boat before docking.

Teams are to return to the dock space that they left from.

The Dock Master will signal boats to dock when appropriate. All other boat(s) will remain close by.

The steersperson will slow the boat as it reaches the dock and the drummer will hand the dock personnel the mooring line as they approach the dock.

Drummer and steersperson will unload from the dragon boat first and hold the dragon boat to the dock.

Dock personnel will tie dragon boat to the dock.

Boat Unloading

Teams will unload according to bench order: Drummer, Steersperson then benches 5, 6, 4, 7, 3, 8, 2, 9, 1, 10.

For safety reasons, team members will vacate the docks immediately upon completion of their race.

Loitering on the docks is not permitted due to the limited space for dock personnel and incoming/outgoing teams.

PFDs are to remain zipped and clipped until clear of the dock.

Paddlers will return paddles and PFDs to the appropriate bins/racks at the top of the upper stairs.

Teams are not to congregate on the paved path directly above the dock ramps – this is an active walk/bike path.


A team may protest:

  • Illegal seat pads/PFD/equipment used by another team.
  • A crew not complying with the roster rule.
  • Wash riding by another crew.
  • Collision initiated by another team during the race.

A team may NOT protest:

  • Boat/lane assignments.
  • Interference from another boat that did not result in a collision.

A protest must be lodged by the Boat Captain to the Dock Marshal prior to the Boat Captain leaving the dock. Otherwise, the offense cannot be verified.

Protest Procedures

The Boat Captain reports the protest to the Dock Marshal IMMEDIATELY after the race is completed and BEFORE the Boat Captain leaves the dock.

The Dock Marshal radios the Head Judge and Head Timer that a protest has been lodged, thus holding the publishing of the race times until the protest is resolved.

ONLY the Boat Captain and Team Manager will meet the Race Director/Head Judge at the timing tent.

A protest form will be provided and completed by the Boat Captain.

A $50 fee (cash and exact amount) must accompany the Protest form. The fee shall be refunded if the protest is upheld.

The Head Judge gathers information from the Officials, Timing Crew, Starters and/or Race Marshals.

After hearing from all parties the Head Judge will render their decision and will notify the protesting team.

The Head Judge notifies the Head Timer to release the race results adding any penalties or disqualification.

Decisions by the Head Judge is final on all protests!


Edmonton River Boat Queen

The Edmonton Riverboat Queen may be running during the Festival. The Edmonton Queen has the right of way in all circumstances.

It is possible that race starts will be delayed to allow for the Edmonton Queen to pass. In this case, pay attention to the Starter’s instructions.

Any boat crossing the path of the Edmonton Queen will be disqualified from racing in the festival.

Capsizing & Collisions

Should a dragon boat(s) capsize, the crew must:

  • Remain with their boat, check for their seat buddies, await rescue and take a head count.
  • Repeat every 30 seconds until all are recovered and accounted for (call out seat positions and wait for responses).
  • Confirm that PFDs are properly fastened and stay altogether with the boat.
  • Do not attempt to swim to shore unless directed by Race Officials.
  • Minimize loss of body heat by holding still and huddling close together.
  • Reassure panicking crew and provide weak swimmers with additional buoyancy (e.g. handful of paddles).
  • Administer emergency first aid if necessary (i.e. arrest severe bleeding, support injured crew).
  • Other dragon boats must stay clear of the area to allow motorized rescue and recovery craft room to maneuver; other crews must not to take any action which could result in their also capsizing and complicating the accident situation.

Should a collision occur between a boat and any fixed, floating or hard object, crews must quickly determine whether any crew member has sustained a serious injury and alert Race Course Marshal by all crew members signaling with their paddles held vertically, high up in the air.

Person Overboard

In the event that any crew member goes overboard (i.e. falls off the drum seat), the boat MUST be stopped immediately and not turned into the path of any oncoming or adjacent boats.

Should the steersperson go overboard, the drummer must take command of the boat and bring it to an immediate stop.

The Race Course Marshal and the safety boat will assist the person overboard to the nearest shore or docks.

A steersperson will be brought to the boat to bring the boat into the docks safely.

Race in Progress Stop/Emergency

Should a race be stopped while in progress, the Starter or Race Course Marshal will employ whatever means necessary to stop all crews from paddling, including: repeated air horn blasts, giving verbal instructions, hand signals.

The timing tent (located at the finish line) will also display a red flag.

If there is an emergency on a boat while the race is in progress, the boat should be stopped and team members wave their paddles above their heads to alert the Race Course Marshal and Rescue boats.


Crew members that are ‘inebriated’ will not be allowed on the docks and will not be allowed to race.


At the Official’s discretion, a penalty or team disqualification may be imposed for the following infractions:

  1. not remaining in assigned racing lane
  2. violation of the safety procedures
  3. infraction of stated rules and regulations
  4. un-sportsman like conduct
  5. verbal/physical abuse to any competitor, volunteer or official
  6. disobeying reasonable requests or instructions from Race Officials
  7. willful damage or loss of equipment
  8. misrepresentation of the event/race or event/organizers
  9. swimming in the river

Penalties may include:

  1. time penalties of five (5) or more seconds added to the team’s race time
  2. disqualification from any official standing or award
  3. financial reimbursement for damage or loss of equipment
  4. disqualification of crew member(s) or the entire Team from further participation in the race
  5. disqualification of crew member(s) or the entire Team from further participation in the festival or future festivals.


Boats proceed to the start line.

Proceed to the start line so the Starter can start the race.

The following calls will be directed to a specific dragon boat by calling ‘Boat #” then command.

Check the boat

Place paddle blades in the water perpendicular to the boat to slow the forward momentum. Remove the paddles when dragon boat has slowed.

Hold the boat

Place paddle blades in the water perpendicular to the boat to stop the forward momentum. Remove the paddles when dragon boat has is stopped.

Hold Hard

Place paddle blades in the water perpendicular to the boat to stop the forward momentum. Paddles remain in the water to keep the boat in place.

Back paddle

Paddlers should paddle in reverse to move the dragon boat back as you may have crossed the start line.

Draw right (starboard) or Draw left (port)

Paddle perpendicular to the boat to pull the boat in the specified direction.

Paddlers Ready

All paddlers should raise paddles ready for the start.


The starter will signal the start within 3 seconds by a single horn blast.

False start

Will be signaled by 3 blasts from the air horn.

Steer right (starboard) or Steer left (port)

Steersperson must make a course correction as called as looking forward from his position.