The Year of the Dragon brought out the best in dragon boat racing this year. Here is a brief recap for each event from the 2012 season:

Heart of the Dragon Festival

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Macon had a successful dragon boat race in 2012, with more local teams and some nice local fundraising, totaling $35,000 for its service to the community. Always a fun venue and friendly competition at Sandy Beach, the music and exciting announcing from one of the “littles” at the agency gets the crowd pumped for racing.

Video from a race in Macon.

The Junior League of Tuscaloosa Dragon Boat Races

Hard work paid off for the women of the Junior League in Tuscaloosa. They pulled the community together and attracted 26 teams in their first year to support its first Dragon Boat Race on the Black Warrior River, raising $20,000 to support local community programs. They created a strong foundation for future growth in a city where competition is second to none and winning means everything.

Helmet cam video from race day.

Decatur General Foundation Dragon Boat Festival

The Decatur General Foundation got serious community backing from teams and sponsors, easily attracting 52 teams for its debut race in May. Despite high winds and choppy water, the novice paddlers navigated their way through the course and had a blast doing it!

Check out the video compilation.

Children’s Hospital Dragon Boat Festival

In its sixth year, paddlers racing in the 6th Annual Children’s Hospital Dragon Boat Festival shattered the event’s previous fundraising record, raising an incredible $150,000 for the foundation. Chattanooga paddlers spread out at the beautiful TVA Park near Chickamauga Lake. They put the community in this event by their spirit and their actions.

Here’s a great video from race day.


The Year of the Dragon was also a celebration of 10 years of dragon boat racing in Knoxville. Nearly 60 teams, including four out of town teams, rocked The Cove at Concord Park with their costumes and friendly competition. They raised more than $121,000 for Knox Area Rescue Ministries. Win-win!

Here is a video from race day.

Owensboro Dragon Boat Festival

The water was choppy nearly every day in practices on the Ohio River in Owensboro, KY, but calmed nicely on race day – until later, but we got through it fine. This was the quickest race we managed all year, or ever. We finished before 1:30 p.m. Central Time to beat the heat and a predicted storm. We’ve never loaded a boat so quickly, and then zipped to the start line after seeing lightning on the radar! All ended well, and it was a great event!


Here’s a video from Owensboro.


The great city of St. Louis is home to some competitive people who handled the 400-meter course at Creve Coeur Park with no problems. Synchronicity and pace are paramount in dragon boat racing, and after a very close finals race, the local Fox TV station captured Gold. After such a stellar day, we expect to see 30 or more teams in the Gateway city next year!

View the event video.

Habitat Dragon Boat Festival

We rolled into Gadsden, AL, for the first Habitat Dragon Boat Festival, and paddlers there raised enough money to build a Habitat for Humanity house in that community. After steering for some very strong teams, we are sure to see more competition annually there. With 25 teams the first year and lots of enthused dragon boaters, we hope to see a chance to raise enough to build at least two Habitat homes for next year.

View some video.

Montana Dragon Boat Festival

When we first starting discussing this event with the Kalispell Convention & Visitors Bureau, they weren’t sure if they could attract 30 teams. In the end, they closed registration early and accepted 56 teams in the first year! On race day, thousands gathered at Flathead Lake Lodge and more than 100 boats anchored at Flathead Lake to watch the action. Paddlers raised more than $30,000 for various causes. It was so popular, the festival will spread over two days next year.

Check out the scenic video.

Cleveland Dragon Boat Festival

The staff returned to the Cuyahoga in downtown Cleveland this year, where 19 teams gathered to battle it out on the water. Race day was dedicated to the loving memory of Cecilia McGinty, of the Cleveland Dragon Boat Association who lost her 18 month battle with anaplastic lymphoma. Paddles Up Cecilia!

See the video.

Duncan-Williams Dragon Boat Races

In its second year, hoards of people descended on Mud Island River Park in Memphis for the Duncan-Williams Dragon Boat Races. Most estimates put the number of spectators and paddlers at 15,000. Some came via tram, many walked a long distance and all had an excellent time watching teams slough through shallow water on the Wolf River Chute a few hundred meters from the drought ridden Mississippi River. Some of the litter we saw in the water during practice prompted comments from paddlers about raising money for a solution as they pledged to support the Tennessee Clean Water Network.

The winning team uploaded this video.

Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival

The last race of the season took us to the Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival, benefiting the Cumberland River Compact, in Nashville. It was the largest event of the race’s history, with 42 teams packing the waterfront downtown across from LP Field. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the season – great weather, awesome entertainment (including a dance contest) and fun times.

Here’s some action from Nashville.

Many other videos from the racing season can be viewed on our youtube page.