June 16, 2016

Race Rules

Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival Association

Race Rules and Regulations

*The Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival Races follows the Rules of Dragon Boat Canada (DBC) and the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF).

*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.


Team Rosters:

  • Team Rosters: The names of ALL team members must be registered on the Official Team Roster prior to the start of the festival. If due to an injury or unforeseen circumstances the roster must be changed, the Team Manager must contact the Race Director a minimum of two (2) hours before the team is scheduled to race.
  • For those members (drummer, paddler, steersperson) who are rostered with more than one team, you MUST be marshalled with your team in order to race – boats will NOT be held for members who are with more than one team. Arrangements between teams must be made ahead of time.


  • All Team Members must sign a waiver stating that they have read the conditions of the Waiver and are aware of the risks associated with the Races.


  • Paddlers are permitted to use their own paddles provided they conform to the IDBF PS202a Racing Paddle specification (carbon fibre 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). U.S. citizens may also use U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs. Self-inflating PFDs and self-inflating jackets are NOT permitted.
  • All personally owned PFDs may be checked by the Race Officials at any time to ensure they meet the approved specifications.
  • Seat liners/foam/seat pads up to 15 mm made of a soft material, such as foam or neoprene can be used.
  • Cox Vox speaker system will be allowed on the boat to be used by Drummer and Steersperson. Stop watches and head mounted cameras will also be permitted in the boat.
  • Signaling devices including radio communications, other electronic items, noise-making devices (whistles, rattles, air horns, etc.) and water bottles are not permitted in the boat or to used during the races.


Team Marshalling:

  • Each team is responsible for marshaling 45 minutes prior to their posted race commencement.
  • Failure to marshal when called upon may result in the team missing their race. All them members MUST be marshaled in order to participate in the race.
  • No team members are to approach the docks until instructed to do so by marshaling personnel.
  • PFDs must be worn and properly secured at all times while in the competition area (ramp and docks). PFDs may not be unzipped or removed until team members have exited the competition area.


  • All team members must follow the instructions of the dock crews.
  • Steersperson and drummer will hold the dragon boat until all benches are loaded.
  • Once a team has loaded, they are to wait for instructions to leave the dock. No personal 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 to the race staging area. You must keep clear of all boats that are racing and do not overtake another boat proceeding to the race staging area.
  • Travel into the Race Course or down the north shore at any time will result in race disqualification.
  • Practice race starts and stretching are permitted on route to the race staging area. Teams are to be mindful they are not holding up the race or other boats travelling to the race staging area. Race officials may ask a team to proceed if they are holding the race behind.
  • All boats are to wait in the designated race staging area until the Starter instructs the boats to approach the Start Line. Travelling downstream of the Staging Area may result in a team missing their race.
  • Prepare by getting into the assigned lane and start positions. Lane positions are:
    • Lane One (1): North Shore
    • Lane Two (2): Centre Lane
    • Lane Three (3): South Shore
  • Lanes will be marked with course marker buoys. Additional buoys will mark the 50-meter line and the race course. Buoys on the course serve ONLY as lane guides.
  • All dragon boats must maintain a safe distance of (2) metres (“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.

Race Start:

  • Teams must start the race in the lane assigned as indicated on the race schedule and remain in the assigned lane for the entire race, unless otherwise directed by the Course Marshall.
  • Starter will announce “Boats to the start line”. Boats will proceed to the start line. The race will start without your team if you choose to ignore line-up instructions.
  • Drummers may not drum during the start procedures.
  • Starter will ask specific boats, by lane # to “Move Forward”, “Check Boat”, “Hold Boat” or “Back Paddle” to get boats positioned as evenly as possible prior to the start.
  • Starter will star the race when all boats are relatively lined up (in the Starter’s opinion, under the best possible conditions for a fair start).
  • The start commands will be:
    • “HOLD HARD”
    • “PADDLERS, ARE YOU READY” (if the team is NOT READY, the Steersperson must immediately raise a hand to signal they are not ready)
    • Air horn blast (from 1-5 seconds after “Attention”)
  •  Any paddle movement after the “Attention” and before the air horn blast, may result in a false start and/or a penalty. Paddle movement means: taking strokes, having your paddle in the water and sculling the paddle.

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 signalled by three air horn signals after the start signal. The chase boat on the 50-meter mark will attempt to move in front of the boats and wave the red flag. All boats must stop and proceed back to the start line.
  • Once all crews have returned to the start, the Started will identify the crew or crews responsible for the False Start and warn them of the offence. If a crew causes two (2) False Starts, the Starter will exclude them from the race.
  • There will be no grounds for re-races once all boats have passed the 50 metre 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.
  • In the event of dragon boats colliding, the Race Course Marshal shall determine which dragon boat encroached and caused the collision and a decision will be made as to the penalty assessed.
  • Wash riding or wake riding is not permitted – that is, to gain an advantage from the wake or wash of another boat.


  • A boat shall complete the race when the nose of the boat crosses the finish line.
  • The boat 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 towards the docks. Await instruction from the Dock Master or dock crew before docking the boat.


  • When instructed, all teams are to follow the instructions provided by the dock crews.
  • All boats are to approach the docks slowly and safely
  • Any damage to the boats, including head and tails, will be the team’s financial responsibility.


  • Drummer and steersperson will unload first and hold the dragon boat to the dock.
  • 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.
  • Teams are not to congregate on the paved path directly above the dock ramps – this is an active walk/bike path.


  • A Team may not protest:
    • Boat/lane assignments
    • Race grid schedule
  • A protest must be lodged by the Boat Captain to the Dock Race Official prior to leaving the dock.

Protest Procedure:

  1. The Boat Captain reports the protest to the Dock Race Official IMMEDIATELY after the race is completed and BEFORE leaving the dock.
  2.  Race results must not be published until the protest is resolved.
  3. ONLY the Boat Captain and Team Manager will meet the Race Director/Head Judge. A protest form will be completed by the Boat Captain and $50.00 cash must accompany the Protest form. The fee shall be refunded if the protest is upheld.
  4.  The Race Director gathers information from the Officials, Timing Crew, Starters and/or Race Marshals.
  5.  After hearing from all parties the Race Director will render their decision and will notify the protesting team.
  6.  Decisions by the Race Director are final on all protests!



  • Should a dragon boat(s) capsize, the crew must:
    • Remain with their boat, check for their seat buddies, take a head count and wait for the safety boat. Repeat every 30 seconds until all crew members are accounted for (call out seat positions and wait for responses).
    • Confirm PFDs are properly fastened.
    • 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 (eg. handful of paddles).
    • Administer emergency first aid if necessary (i.e. severe bleeding, support injured crew)
  • Other dragon boats must stay clear of the area to allow rescue and recovery boats room to maneuver; other crews must not to take any action as this could result in complicating the accident situation.

Person Overboard:

  • In the even that any crew member goes overboard (i.e. falls off the drum seat), the boat MUST be stopped immediately. DO NOT TURN the boat.
  • 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.

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:

  • Not remaining in assigned racing lane
  • Violation of the safety procedures
  • Infraction of stated rules and regulations
  • Unsportsman-like conduct, including verbal/physical abuse to any competitor, volunteer or official
  • Disobeying reasonable requests or instructions from Race Officials
  • Willful damage or loss of equipment

Penalties may include:

  • Time penalties of five (5) seconds added to the team’s race time
  • Disqualification from any official standing or award
  • Financial responsibility for damages or loss of festival equipment
  • Disqualification of crew member(s) of the entire Team from further participation in the race or festival

Race Commands:

  • Boats proceed to the start line – Proceed to the start line so the Starter can start the race.
  • 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.
  • Attention – The starter will signal the start within 3 seconds by a single horn blast.
  • False start – Will be signalled 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