Training Sessions

Q: I’ve never paddled before. Is there a fitness or experience requirement?

A: We train all levels of paddlers and welcome novice paddlers. We also recommend exercising off-water to build up your fitness level. Coaches Lesley or Crystal can help you develop a training program. You can find a variety of workouts located in WAM - Members Only -> Training Docs.


Q: When are training sessions and what is the location?

A: See Paddling in Renton page

Q: Can I sign up for any training session ?

A: It is strongly preferred that your first two training sessions be on a weekend, because we have more time to take you through an orientation. On weeknights, we leave the dock very promptly because we share dock space with rowers.

Q: Should I arrive early for training sessions ?

A: Most team members do. It gives enough time for parking, using the restroom, adjusting PFD’s/paddles and getting to know your teammates! We ask those who have never paddled a dragon boat to arrive 45 minutes early on a weekend so we can share some of the basics of dragon boat paddling, and get you set up with a PFD and paddle.


Q: How do I sign up for training sessions?

A: Once you've registered with WAM, you will have access to RSVP on the Events page.  
Q: Why are RSVPs so important?

A: It’s a challenge to balance the boats and ensure we have enough steerspersons. If we get close to the 20-paddler threshold (which is the max seating in one boat), coaches need to ensure we have an additional steerspersons and/or if conditions are a bit iffy, we may instead choose to spread 20 paddlers across two boats.
Q: I have a long trip planned or an extended illness. What should I do?

A: If you will be absent for multiple consecutive training sessions, as a courtesy, please let Lesley and/or Crystal know. If you cannot attend, RSVPing "No", is very helpful.
Q: What happens if I need to cancel for an event I RSVPd for, or if I'm running late?

A: If you need to cancel more than 24 hours in advance, update your RSVP in the system as appropriate. If you need to cancel just a few hours or less before training, notify Lesley (head coach) directly at 206-666-0261, or Crystal (assistant coach) at 801-603-1357. The same applies if you are changing your reply from No to Yes.

If your cancellation is very last minute, please send a message via the Signal group (WAM Team Communications) so multiple people are informed.


Q: What is Signal?

A: Similar to What’s App, it’s a secure messaging system. To join, contact your buddy and they will invite you to the group. In addition to the WAM Team Communications group, we also have a WAM Chat group which has non-critical chats. 
Q: The winter weather looks horrible. How do I know if there is training?

A: If training is canceled due to inclement weather, you will receive an email and a Signal notification. The email only goes to those who RSVPd Yes. And the event will say “CANCELED” and will close the session to new RSVPs.

  • For a weeknight 6:30 p.m. training session, you will be notified by 2:30 p.m.
  • For a 1:00 p.m. training, you will be notified by 8:00 a.m.
  • For an 8:00 a.m. training, you will be notified by 8:00 p.m. the night before

Q: I’ve lost track of all the events I’ve registered for. What’s the easiest way to see my events?

A: On the top right-hand portion of the WAM website, click on “Account”, then “Events”, then “My events”

Q: Do I need to attend every training session ?

A: No. Dragon boating is year round and we understand everyone has different schedules. If you are going to race, attending more practices during the race season will help you prepare.


Q. Are there warm-ups before each training session?

A. On weeknights, when there is usually less time we do not do group land warm-ups but you can arrive early and do a personal warm-up. The workout plan always includes and on-water warm-up, where we start paddling at a lower level of intenisty and gradually increase it. On weekends, a personal cardio warm-up should be performed, followed by a group warm-up before getting on the boats. Part of the reason is to have an established routine that we perform on race day too. It also helps prepare paddlers for a longer and more intense training session on weekends.


Q. What kind of off-water training program should I follow?

A. Coaches Lesley or Crystal can help you develop a training program. On our website, you can find a variety of workouts located in WAM - Members Only -> Training Docs.



About Racing

Q. Can I race with WAM?

A. If you are a member of WAM and participate in WAM training, both on and off the water, you are eligible to compete for a seat in a race.
Q. What is the expected training time commitment if I want to race?

A. That requires rigorous training both on and off the water. During the racing season, practicing 3 times a week on the water, and performing personal strength and conditioning workouts 1-3 times a week, (depending on the training cycle), could be a time commitment of 9-10 hours per week. If you are signed up for any imminent race events, please do your best to attend 66% of weeknights, and 66% of weekend training sessions. This is not a hard requirement, but the more we all train together, the more effective we'll be as a team.
Q. When are races posted on the WAM website?

A. Usually in January of the racing year. RSVP early to maximize your racing opportunities. And “No” RSVP’s are also very helpful for coaches to plan.
Q. How does WAM handle race fees?

A. Usually, each member will pay race fees based on the number of heats they race in during an event. Other times there may be a set fee for each member for the event, such as for Club Crew events. While members have sometimes paid before a race event, it is more likely that we will pay fees after the race event is over. Race fees can vary from approximately $40 to $200, the latter being for the Club Crew type events or those where WAM has entries in a large number of categories. Depending on the fee structure of the specific race event, we we often pro-rate race fees; if you compete in a lot of heats, you will have a higher race fee. You will be sent an invoice by our Treasurer.
Q. What races does WAM compete in?

A. Depending on the year, WAM races in local, regional, national and international races. For example, WAM has competed in the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver, B.C, the Portland Dragon Boat Festival, the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival, the Pan American Club Crew World Championship races in Puerto Rico, Tobago and Panama, and Club Crew World Championship races in Australia, Hungary and the USA.
Q. What race categories does WAM compete in?

A. Depending on the race event, WAM fields teams in the Open (no gender requirements), Women and Mixed divisions. In national and international competitions subject to International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) competitive class definitions, WAM has competed in Senior A Open and Mixed, Senior B Women, and Senior C Open, Mixed and Women races.
Q. Where can I find more information about the definition of IDBF racing categories?

A. The IDBF has an International Dragon Boat Federation website. Look under IDBF Competition regulations, specifically under the “Documents” tab under Rules and Regulations
Q. What is the WAM selection process for competing for a seat in a race?

A. The selection process varies depending upon the type of race. For example, the selection process for a local race may be based on a paddler’s time commitment to practicing a month before the event. For a seat in a Club Crew World Championship race, there will be specific training attendance expectations and rigorous training and fitness assessment requirements. For highly competitive events, there will be time trials in a two person outrigger canoe, however, time trials are not the only criteria assessed. Team attitude, technical blend and work ethic are also considered.


Q. How early should I book lodging for these races?

A. Many paddlers stay at places close to the venue and these tend to fill up so booking earlier is better. That said, book cancellable reservations. RSVPing for a race event does not guarantee a seat or actual participation in the race event itself. If we do not have enough people who sign up before the WAM RSVP deadline, or can't meet minimum gender requirements, or are 'over-subscribed', ie, numbers exceed what's allowed on a roster, participation may not happen. We recommend confirming race participation with coaches before making any kind of non-refundable booking.
Q. What do I wear at a race?

A. WAM jerseys, black bottoms (shorts, capris), and an optional WAM neon colored hat. Athletic shoes or sandals depending on weather and preference.
Q. What are other helpful things to bring to a race event?

A. Sunglasses, paddling gloves, electrolytes, energy chews, bug repellent, sunscreen, chapstick, insulated water bottle to keep water cold, collapsible chair, towel and warm clothes. Credit card or cash to purchase vendor mementos, gifts and food.
Q. Food options during race day?

A. For local races, sometimes we have potluck-style to share which is loosely coordinated by a team member. For away events, everyone is responsible for their own food needs.

Q. What else should I know about race day?

  • Some events are one day while others can be for a weekend or longer: this will be clearly stated when you sign up for the race.
  • Carpooling and sharing lodging is encouraged
  • We will be assigned a site at the race venue, and set up a team tent or two with WAM signage
  • We typically meet early in the morning (between 6:30 and 8) for set up, a team meeting and to warm-up.
  • The time of each race of race day varies; the schedule in the team tent will be updated
  • Race schedules are subject to change, so please plan to stay near the team tent throughout the day.
  • Your seating position can vary by race, so be sure to check the board before each race
  • Teams are lined up (aka marshaled) about 20-30 minutes before each race
  • Race lengths are most commonly 500m but there may also be specialty races whose distances may be 100m, 200m, 250m, 1000m or 2000m; not all events have special category races
    • A 500m race for example takes about 2 to 3 minutes to complete.
  • Racing can go to about 6pm each evening.
  • The number of races per day per person can vary from 1 to about 10 depending upon the number of categories you are entered in and the size of the event.
  • The first races are usually used to determine which division your team belongs in (A, B, C, etc.) with later races competing for medals
  • On two-day races, we normally will have a team dinner at a nearby restaurant on the evening of the first day's racing.
  • When flying to a destination, the team will help coordinate the transport of paddles and other team equipment, such as whiteboards, team banners etc..


Q. How much does it cost to join WAM?

A. For 2024, a WAM membership is $175.00. Everyone new to WAM is entitled to three free on water training sessions.


Q. Are there any other fees that I would be required to pay?

A. If you intend to race at CCNC (Club Crew National Championships), CCWC (Club Crew World Championships), or PACCC (Pan American Club Crew Championships), you will be required to become a member of USDBF (United States Dragon Boat Federation). In 2023, USDBF annual fee was $55.00 for the first year and $35.00 for each consecutive year after that. If you lapse, you will then have to pay $55.00. You can find a membership link to USDBF.

If you choose to participate in race events, there are race fees for each of those. They vary from approximately $40 to $200, the latter being for the Club Crew type events or those where WAM has entries in a large number of categories. You will be sent an invoice by our Treasurer.


Q: Everyone has WAM gear. How can I get WAM hats/jerseys?

A: WAM uses the company Oddball to order gear. See link for the team store. Orders are usually placed closer to race season but the hats can be ordered anytime.




What is Dragon Boating ?

A1. Recreational:

  • Dragon Boating is the fastest growing team water sport in the world because it is fun, healthy, and a great way to make friends.
  • Our boats welcome everyone from novice to experienced paddlers
  • Dragon boating gets you out on the water with an amazing community of like-minded people looking to connect with nature and others while getting a full body workout.


A2. Competitive:

  • Each boat consists of twenty synchronized paddlers, one drummer, and one steersperson working together to be their best. It provides an opportunity to compete mentally and physically with yourself and your team against other teams.
  • We race everywhere from Seattle to Vancouver to Arizona to Australia and more.
  • See Above "About Racing" section.


A3. Historical:

  • Dragon Boat Racing originated approximately 2500 years ago in China as a ritual to appease the rain gods, encourage rainfall, and celebrate rice planting. It has also been tied to the tale of poet and high-ranking official (Qu Yuan) from China during the Warring States Period, who was exiled from his state by a corrupt king. When he heard that his court had been destroyed by enemies, he drowned himself out of sorrow. It is said the villagers went out in the river with boats and drums to try to rescue his body.
  • A dragon boat is long and narrow powered by humans, and is affixed with a decorative dragon head and large drum at the front, dragon tail at the back, and scales printed on the hull. During races, teams of paddlers paddle furiously towards a finish line, to a drum beat, providing onlookers with an exciting and colorful experience.
  • Today, Dragon Boat Racing has become the world’s fastest growing water sport. It is a powerful way for participants to honor the past, build cultural bridges, and have a blast on the water.