Dragon Boat races coming to Lewes’ Canalfront Park

Competition to raise money, earn braggin’ rights
A dragon boat drummer provides cadence for rowers on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia at the June 2007 inaugural Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association Regatta. BY STUART GRIFFIN
September 11, 2013

The dragon boat: An ornate, 46-foot hollowed canoe with a dragon’s head fore and tail aft. Lewes is hosting the blistering speed of 20-humanpower dragon boats racing for the fun of it - and to raise money for a good cause - 11 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, in Lewes Canalfront Park.

Lewes Dragon Boat Festival 2013 is a fundraiser for Sussex Academy of Arts & Science’s capital campaign. The academy is a public charter school with the mission of preparing students for admission to top-tier colleges and universities.

The Georgetown-based school offers a rigorous academic curriculum for grades six through 12.

How it goes

Each boat has 10 rows of seats for rowers who sit side by side to power the vessel. There is a seat in the bow for a drummer who provides cadence for stroke synchronization. A steersman with a sweep oar controls the boat from the stern.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing LLC, is managing the dragon boat, providing equipment and professional race logistic services. Professional steersmen aboard each dragon boat are provided by Dynamic.

Dragon boat racing is the world’s eighth fastest growing sport, and Dynamic has become a nationally recognized expert in dragon boat event management, according to the company’s website.

Christa Griffin, festival chairwoman, said the festival is coming together well.

“The public is really excited about it and teams can’t wait to paddle and compete,” Griffin said.

Races will start in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal north of the Lightship Overfalls, and finish at Canalfront Park.

Each race covers a distance of about 350 meters (1,148 feet) and should take about two to three minutes to complete.

Each team is scheduled for at least two races. Three boats will race in each heat. The number of races is determined by each team’s success.

Winning has nothing to do with team-member age, size, strength or athletic ability, according to the pros. Dragon boat race veterans say winning teams are those that work well together, coordinating their strokes to efficiently, smoothly and quickly propel their boat across the finish line.

Racing prep

The Dynamic truck carrying dragon boats and other equipment is expected to arrive in Lewes Thursday, Sept. 12.

Team practice sessions will be held Thursday, Sept. 12, Friday, Sept. 13, and Saturday, Sept. 14. A coach will provide water safety instruction, paddling techniques, and give each team member an assigned seat to maximize race day efficiency.

Festival organizers have worked closely with the City of Lewes and have assured city officials Canalfront Park will not be damaged, Griffin said. But if there is damage, Griffin said the festival has insurance to cover repair costs.

“We’re pretty confident there won’t be any problems.  Everyone who is participating is from around here,” she said.

She said participants and the public are asked to be good stewards of the park to demonstrate that it’s a great venue. Those who come are asked to be considerate of area residents, Canalfront Park and surroundings.

Festival goers should remember to park thoughtfully; not litter; walk only on the park’s gravel paths, open grassy areas and docks; stay out of all bedding areas; obey posted signs; and listen to the directions given by event staff.

“Festival organizers want everything to go well so we can grow it and come back next year and for years to come,” Griffin said.

She said the goal, of course, is to make money, but organizers know that might not happen.

“First-year fundraising events like this are happy to break even. There are a lot of expenses involved in putting these on,” Griffin said.

She said the festival needs more volunteers to help in a number of areas, including race marshals, registration, on-site information desk, assisting rowers in and out of boats, and general dock assistance.

“We also need an announcer,” she said.

Festival vendors will include Annabella's Italian restaurant, Cake Break, Gilligan’s Waterfront Restaurant, Jerry’s Seafood Restaurant, King's Homemade Ice Cream Shops, Root Gourmet, Savannahs Deli and Grille, and Touch of Italy.

For additional information about the event, go to

For additional information about the academy, go to The academy is located at 21150 Airport Road, Georgetown. Phone 302-856-3636.

Dragon boat race teams ready

So far, 24 teams have registered to compete in Lewes’ Dragon Boat Festival 2013. The event is 11 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, in Lewes Canalfront Park.

Christa Griffin, event chairwoman, said there’s still time for additional sponsored team entries, and a couple sponsored teams still need more paddlers. Team sponsors and names and team names chosen are:

  • Bad Hair Day? - Bad Hair Day? Ying Yangs
  • Bay Vista Neighbors Rehoboth-Bay - Vista Warriors
  • Beebe Medical Center
  • Built Gym -  Built
  • Cape Gazette - Cape Gazette Flood Tides
  • Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales - Dogfish
  • Echelon Custom Homes
  • Individual Paddlers Boat 1 - Double Nickel**
  • Jay Taylor - Big Eye Tunas
  • Law Offices of Fuqua, Yori and Willard, PA -
  • Law Offices of Griffin & Hackett - Griffin & Hackett Power Strokers
  • Law Offices of Scott and Shuman
  • Lewes Building Company & Nucar's Lewes Automall
  • Lewes Women - The Girls with the Dragon Boat Tattoos
  • Lotus Chiropractic -The Well OARjusted
  • NaturaLawn of America - NaturaLawn Dragon Ladies
  • NVR Inc. - Team NVR
  • Pilots’ Association for the Bay & River Delaware - Dragon Anchors
  • Quest Fitness & Kayak**
  • Schell Brothers
  • SPI Pharma
  • Striper Bites
  • Sussex Academy

**Accepting individual paddlers


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