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Frequently asked questions

  • What is Dragon Boat Racing?
    Dragon boating originated in Hong Kong in 1976, but its historical roots can be traced back to more than 2,000 years ago in China. During races, dragon boaters typically paddle in sync along a 250m or 500m racecourse toward the finish line. You may be surprised to learn that it is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world. There are more than 50 million people worldwide participating in dragon boating each year. Teams and competitions are currently found in over 57 nations.
  • What is a Dragon Boat?
    A dragon boat is a long, narrow canoe that seats 20 paddlers in 10 rows. A steersperson standing in the stern uses a 9’ oar as a rudder and a drummer at the bow of the boat by the dragon’s head.
  • What is the Registration Fee?
    The registration fee for each corporate team is $2,500 and $1,500 for non-profit team. A 10% discount is available if registered prior to July 31, 2024. All fees must be paid in full by the Captain’s Meeting (Date and Time T.B.D.) More important information is available online at Team Registration.
  • How can teams pay for Registration?
    Teams can pay an initial payment of $500 by going online at Team Registration. Teams through their own competitive fundraising efforts can pay the balance of their Registration Fee at All fees must be paid in full by the Captain’s Meeting (Date and Time T.B.D.)
  • Where is the Festival?
    The festival is held at Bayview Park 2001 Lloyd St Pensacola, Florida 32503.
  • Who is NE Pensacola SERTOMA?
    NE Pensacola Sertoma was founded in 1988 for the purpose of contributing to the Pensacola Community in as many ways as we can by raising money and supporting many community charities.
  • How does my team join the online Fundraising?
    Create A New Team You can create a team at Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival fundraising page and select the “Create a Team” button. Step 1: First page, you’ll be able to enter in your Team Photo, Team Name, and Team URL. Step 2: Fill out information about your Team (Follow Instructions) Step 3: You’ll then be able to write your Team Appeal (We have uploaded an appeal) but you can replace with your own appeal. Step 4: Share your team page on social media. (There is information uploaded for social media), but you can replace with your own. You can only create or join one team. If you create a team and are the only member, and choose to leave the team, the team page will be deleted. Teams are pages that fundraisers can join to fundraise as a group. Under the “Manage Page” tab, you can navigate to your Teams from the menu on the left. Here, you’ll see a list of any teams you’ve joined. Step 5: To get to the live team page, you can click on the team page link: Step 6: You’ll then be directed to the live team page *If you’d like to join a team, you can navigate to the Explore tab on the top menu to view teams and select one to join. Here’s how you can Join A Team. Invite Team Members If you’d like to invite others to join your team, you can do so by selecting “Invite Members” from your Team Dashboard.
  • How does a Fundraiser join a Team?
    As a fundraiser, you have the opportunity to join and help your team, so you can fundraise alongside your preferred group! Here’s how you can join a team: Step 1: Sign into Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival fundraising page Step 2: Search for the team name if you already know the one you’d like to join, or browse through the team listing. Select the team you’d like to join. Join A Team” under the “My Team” section. Step 3: Click on “Join this Team” button in the right column of the page. Step 4: Confirm you want to join the team. You can only be part of one team, and you can leave a team anytime by clicking the “Manage” link that appears on the Team page.
  • What is the Admission Charge?
    Free Admission and open to the Public. Donations will be appreciated.
  • When is the Dragon Boat Festival?
    The Festival Opening Ceremonies are Saturday, October 12TH, 2024, at 8AM.
  • What Charities Benefit from the Festival?
    Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Pensacola Habitat for Humanity and Escambia County Public Schools Foundation.
  • How do I Volunteer?
    You can sign up online at Volunteer.
  • What time should I arrive?
    We advise those attending the Opening Ceremonies that parking is limited; therefore, carpooling is encouraged when possible. Arrive early in the day. Be sure to plan ahead for travel time between parking and the festival. Opening Ceremonies will begin at 8AM, followed by races starting at 9AM. Races will end by 5PM. Awards Ceremony will immediately follow the last race. No Parking will be allowed in the Festival Area. Any car parking in the Festival Area will be subject to towing at their expense.
  • What Happens on Race Day?
    Each team will race in three (3) heats. The course is 250 meters long. Each Team will have 60-90 minutes in between races. The 1st heat start at 9:00 AM. The championship race will be held approximately at 4PM.
  • I want to paddle but I do not have a team.
    Sure, just fill out the form and Register.
  • My friends and I want to get a team together but have never paddled before, can we still participate?
    Sure! Lots of teams enter without any prior experience, but don’t worry we have pros from the Dragon boat company to give you pointers & keep you safe, plus we’ll make sure your team has the opportunity to sign up for a free practice session the week prior to race day. In the meantime, why not check out some dragon boating videos on YouTube to get your team familiar, motivated and ready to race.
  • Are refreshments available?
    Yes! There will be a food truck area. Enjoy the different types of food offered by our food Vendors. NE Pensacola Sertoma will have beer, water and Dragon Juice for sale.
  • Where is the best view of the races?
    Bleachers will be available on the Bayou area near the finish line to allow spectators an opportunity to view the entire race from start to finish.
  • How many members do I need for a team?
    Each Team must have 20 paddlers with minimum of 8 woman and a drummer. We recommend having 4 alternates as paddlers. If you don’t have enough members, we can assign some individuals paddlers to your team. All paddlers, alternates, & drummer must sign a liability waiver form prior to start of the races. The minimum age to paddle is 12 years of age w/permission by legal guardian. Liability Waiver forms will be turn into the Dock Master the day of the race.
  • What is the minimum age to participate?
    Minimum age to paddle is 12 years of age w/permission by legal guardian. Liability Waiver forms will be turn into the Dock Master the day of the race.
  • What does the Registration Fee cover?
    Registration for a team of 20 paddlers, drummer and 4 alternates include: A full day of team-building fun, on and off the water. Equipment supplied (paddles, life jackets, dragon boat vessel — properties of the Dragon Boat company. On-site paddle training and safety review from Dragon Boat Company before the race. Participation in three or more races. Each team receives a 10’x10’ tent space in the Athlete’s Village at Bayview Park Qualified experienced steerer from the Dragon boat company And to the fun-loving winners — awards! Food vendors and beer will be available for sale. No alcohol may be brought into the Athlete’s Village.
  • When is the Awards Ceramony?
    Awards are presented during the Awards Ceremony will immediately follow the Championship race.
  • How can a Dragon Boat experience enhance your corporate experience?
    Both strive to be inclusive, collaborative, organized, communicative, synchronized, productive, and committed. Taking part in a dragon boating session can build a sense of team and camaraderie. It can bridge gaps between staff and managers as well as different departments. Paddling together can be that great equalizer. Working together is the key to success in business and in dragon boating.
  • What will my co-workers get from a Dragon Boat Race?
    The experience will foster a strong sense of unity and a renewed common purpose. It will inspire cooperation and communication. Those that are team players will be evident. Best of all, everyone will come away energized, enthusiastic, and proud.
  • Are there different racing division for the teams?
    We will have three divisions. Each team is guaranteed three (3) races. The times of the first round will determine which division each team competes in for the Semi-Final and Championship rounds. Top woman teams will be the third division.
  • How do I Register a Team?
    Please register and pay online at Registration. If paying by check, please email Proceeds will benefit the Gulf Coast Kid’s House and Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida.
  • What is the Deadline for the Team Registration Fees?
    Registration deadline for the 10TH Annual 2024 Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival is Thursday, October 3RD, 2024. All deposits/installment payments are non-refundable.
  • Do we get to practice?
    YES! The week leading up to the event there will be practices scheduled. Each team will have the opportunity to have (2) Two Practices – (1) One hour per session with a professional steers person. Scheduling will be first come, first served. Teams will be notified when scheduling starts.
  • What equipment will be provided?
    Dragon boat, paddles, life vests, boats, drums, and steerspersons will be provided to each team at practice and on the day of the race. Teams that bring their own equipment must use the regulation equipment mandated by the International Dragon Boat Federation.
  • Where do I get Safety Information?
    Go online at Race Day to obtain important Safety information that should be shared with all team members.
  • What do you wear when racing?
    You will be on the water. All paddlers on the water be required to wear Coast Guard approved PFDs (personal flotation device) which will be provided by Dragon boat company supplying the boats. Water friendly shoes should also be worn. Please wear either closed-toed shoes or sandals with secure straps. No flip-flops, please.
  • Where does our team gather on race day?
    Your team will be assigned a spot in our Athlete’s Village. Bring a tent, lawn chairs, coolers and any supplies you may need. Alcohol is allowed but controlled. No alcohol allowed on staging and loading dock. Beer & Dragon Juice will be supplied by NE Pensacola Sertoma. Up to four cases of beer can be purchase for your Team at a reduced price the day of the event.
  • How do I make a donation?
    DONATE online at or mail to PDBF, PO Box 10697, Pensacola, FL 32504 Teams are encouraged to plan a simple fundraising activity to host at their tent during the race day.
  • How do I become a Corporate Sponsor?
    Please visit online at Sponsors or email
  • How do I register for a Vendor Space at the festival?
    Vendors apply online at online at Vendors or email us at The vendor village will be open at 8AM until closing. Vendors can begin setup prior to the start of the event but setup no later than 7AM the day of the start of the festival.
  • 8:00 AM
    Opening Ceremonies with the Young Marines of Pensacola Children’s Area and Vendor Booths Open All Day Team Captains CheckIn DJ will play music Dragon Punch and Beer will be available for a donation throughout the day
  • 9:00 AM
    Official Race Schedule to be announced the week leading up to the event
  • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    Lunch Break for racers
  • 1:00 PM
    Racing Continues
  • 4:30 PM
    Championship Race
  • 5:00 PM
    Closing ceremonies
    Each team member is responsible for his or her own safety at all times while engaging in activities related to practicing and racing in dragon boats The steers-person is in charge of and responsible for your boat at all times. His/her commands must be obeyed to ensure everyone’s safety Always listen to your steers-person for directions, even if you hear “hold the boat” and you are in the middle of a race A buddy system is used in the event of a medical emergency or capsizing
    Dress appropriately Take a bottle of water with you Apply proper sun protection, and/or wear a hat Stretching and moderate exercise is advisable before paddling The team should review the paddling commands with the steers-person The steers-person will communicate the safety and emergency procedures with the team before going out Two people on each team should have whistles attached to their life vests for use as a warning signal in case of emergency
    All paddlers must wear an approved life jacket at all times while on the water (PFD – Personal Floatation Device). A PFD will be provided for each paddler After your practice, please return your paddles & PFD to the designated area
    If you are a non-swimmer, you should inform your Team Captain, and you or your Captain must inform the steers-person, drummer, and your buddy
    Your Captain should know the paddlers’ weights and balance the boat accordingly Loading procedure should be done row by row – first port side, then starboard side. The recommended process is middle rows first. Listen for the steers-person and/or drummer before getting in or out of the boat. Only one person should be getting in or out of the boat at a time Once loaded, the steers-person should remind the paddlers about the buddy system and ask them to identify their buddy For unloading, repeat the loading procedure backwards
    To be able to control the boat and avoid collisions, all paddlers must know the paddling commands The commands should be reviewed with your steers-person at the dock each time you go out Commands: Hold water (paddle in the water to stop the boat), let it ride (stop paddling and rest the paddle on your lap), and back paddle Usually the drummer will give the commands, but commands from the steers-person need to be followed and take precedence at all times
    To help maintain boat stability, make no sudden moves in the boat. According to the Rules of the Bayou, there are times when boats must continue to paddle (unless doing so would cause a collision): Paddling up and across the Bayou When returning to the docks (or anytime when approaching a stationary object), always keep hands off of the boat gunwales. Failure to do so may result in serious injury to your fingers or hand if they are trapped between the boat and the stationary object
    Maintain hydration by drinking fluids before getting into the boat and during those times when your boat stops for any reason
    Paddling for 300 meters is not easy and can be exhausting. If you need to rest at any time, then do so. Take your paddle out of the water and hold it up above your lap while you rest.
    Paddlers should restrict talking in the boat. They need to pay attention to the directions given by the drummer and steers-person. The noise makes it difficult for other paddlers to hear the directions. In addition, the drummer and steers-person must be able to communicate effectively from the bow to the stern of the boat. When on the water, help can be a long way off. If someone should have a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergency, it is imperative that everyone remains silent as the steers-person gives directions.
    Dragon boats can capsize Unless otherwise instructed, paddlers should stay with the boat, hold onto it, do not try to swim to shore, and wait until help comes You must follow the directions of the steers-person and rescue personnel. The steers-person will remain in charge of the team until rescue personnel arrive. Once the rescue boat has arrived, they are in charge Use a buddy system. Your buddy is the person sitting beside you in your row. The paddlers in the first row (row 1) of the boat are also buddies with the drummer, and the paddlers in the last row (row 10) are buddies with the steersperson If you find yourself under the boat, there will be an air pocket available for you to catch your breath and get your bearings. Feel your way to the side of the boat and then surface on the outside Locate or call out for your buddy and be sure he/she is safe If other paddlers are injured or have difficulty reaching the boat, give them assistance and make the rescue boat aware of the situation The Launch Driver will take a head count If the boat capsizes, it may not right itself. The Launch Driver will determine if anyone is trapped under the dragon boat, and act accordingly If the dragon boat is upside down after capsizing, the Launch Driver may ask the team to help roll the boat to its upright position. Before that can be done, all paddlers must be accounted for. A strong swimmer may be asked to swim under the boat from one end to the other looking for paddlers People shouting and making noise will cause confusion. In the event of an emergency, every paddler has to be ready to follow instructions Some excerpts quoted from the Canadian Community Dragon Boat Association Safety Protocol and Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival Official Rules.
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