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All you need to know about the day!

Crew Information Pack

Please read all the information below as it has lots of important detail included about the event, what it involves, what to expect and important safety information for you and your team. 

We can’t wait to see you all on Saturday 28th September 2024

The event is in aid of Ailsa’s Aim. If you can please donate any amount you can, as it all makes a massive difference! Let’s make this year a great success!

This button is linked directly to the festival fundraising page and will count towards the total raised from the day!

Got questions? email: or call 01536 674 748

Important Deadlines

Team Names - Please confirm your team name by latest Friday 6th September. Teams that fail to confirm it by this date will be given their company name as their team name.

Boat Logos - If you are a gold or a silver entry you have a boat logo included in your entry*. Please send us a high quality JPEG or PNG of your logo by latest Monday 9th September.

*unless you have been told otherwise and have been refunded.

Souvenir Programme Adverts - If you are a gold entry you have a full page advert included in your entry. Please see the form below for the requirements and send them to us by latest Monday 9th September.

Souvenir Programme Form - Northampton NN24

Helpful Reminders

  1. Dress appropriately in comfortable clothes and bring protection for all weather types e.g. raincoat, sun cream, sunglasses, hat etc.
  2. We recommend participants bring their own drinking water on-site.
  3. Bring all required paperwork with you on the day, provided in this pack.
  4. Parking is available - see the specific accordion for more information.
  5. BBQ's and own alcohol are allowed at this stage but please keep the BBQ's raised of the ground.
  6. If you haven't purchased a gazebo or opted for the gold entry, don't worry, you can still bring your own 3x3m gazebo on the day. Spots are on first come first serve basis. However, if you have purchased a gazebo or opted for the gold entry, we'll have one set up for you with your company and team name displayed.

Please download and use the below as required to promote your involvement in the event:


Risk Forms

All teams must hand in a completed Acknowledgment of Risk Form prior to racing on the day of the event. This must be completed in full with all participants names and signatures. Please do not email this to us beforehand, bring it with you on the day.

There is also a 'Crew Info' sheet below that is optional to fill in for commentary purposes on the day.

NN Crew List & Ack of Risk Form 2024

NN Crew Info Form 2024

Race Schedule 

2024 Race Schedule - will be available two weeks prior 

PDF Crew List

Crew list will be updated weekly when entries open

Competition Format

1. The Northampton Dragon Boat Festival is open to all. Previous experience of Dragon Boat Racing is not necessary to enter a crew but all crew members must be water confident whilst wearing a buoyancy aid in cold water. Competitors under 18 years must supply parental consent in writing to the Race Organisers and all competitors must be over 16 years old. All competitors must wear a buoyancy aid (provided by the event organisers) and be entered on the Crew List they are racing for, to validate their public liability insurance cover.

2. Equipment - All boats, necessary equipment for racing and buoyancy vests are supplied. Only paddles provided by the organisers are permitted.

3. Race Results - All race results, apart from the semi-finals and final, will be based on times. Each crew will receive three races, weather permitting, and their fastest two times will count. The twelve crews with the fastest times go through to the semi-finals. From the three semi-finals the winning crews and fastest loser will proceed to the Grand Final.

4. Boats & Race Course - Each crew will get the opportunity to race in a different boat and racing lane in each heat to ensure complete fairness. The race distance will be approximately 200m.

5. Prizes – The Northampton Dragon Boat Festival trophy will be awarded to the overall winning crew and medals will be presented to the top three crews. Trophies will also be awarded to the second, third & fourth placed crews plus the top mixed crew (minimum 5 ladies), the ‘best dressed’ crew and the crew providing evidence on the day of raising the most money for Ailsa's Aim. The team raising the most money for Ailsa's Aim will be awarded the charity trophy and receive a special Escape Rooms Experience at Billing Aquadrome.  Visit TBC or tel 01733 215 683

Event and Race Organisers

1. NewWave Events are the Event Organisers for the day and all questions relating to the dragon boat racing programme and organization of the event should be directed to them.

2. Boat Helms (Steerers) - All crews will be allocated a Helm for each race by the Chief Boat Marshall. The Helm will automatically become the Boat Captain once the crew is ready for loading and all crew members should take instruction from the Helm and NOT their own Crew Manager whilst racing.

3. Qualifications - All Steerers/Helms and Race Officials are provided by the Race Organisers and are fully qualified using the BDA standards as a minimum qualification for this type of event.

Racing Rules & Regulations

  1. Crews - Up to 15 competitors may be shown on the Crew List. However when racing, Crews are not to exceed 11 persons, including the drummer. Crews may race with less than 11 but the number in the boat must be the same at the finish of the race as at the start. You can reduce the number of paddlers to a minimum of 8 but you must always have a drummer.
  1. Crew Manager - Every crew must nominate a Crew Manager on their crew list. The Crew Manager has overall responsibility for the conduct and actions of the crew both on and off the water. The Chief Official and other Race Officials will only communicate on ‘official matters’ with the Crew Manager.
  1. Crew Composition - Crews may be mixed, all female or all male.
  1. The Drummer - The Drummer must sit on the seat provided and actively beat the drum throughout the race.
  2. Embarking - Crews must report to the Boat Marshalling Area, when called forward by the Chief Boat Marshall or over the PA. This will normally be 20 minutes before a race start time. Crews failing to report on time may be barred from the competition. It is paramount to the smooth running of the event that crews report to the Boat Marshalling Area in plenty of time. Crews Managers assistance with this is greatly appreciated.
  1. Starts - Crews must be in their correct Dragon Boats and be in the start area, at least 5 minutes before their start time. All races will be started without reference to absentees.
  1. Starting Position - The position of the dragon boats on the Start line shall be that the foremost part of each boat (including the head) is on the Start Line and that all the boats are aligned.
  1. Starting Signal - When the Starter is satisfied that all the boats are correctly aligned, the Starter shall alert the crews by saying ‘Crews are you ready’. IF THE CREW IS NOT READY, the Helm is to indicate this situation by raising a hand clearly above head height and keeping it there, until the Starter acknowledges the situation.
  1. Start - When the starter is satisfied that all crews ‘are ready’ the starter shall give the starting signal by shouting ‘Attention’ followed by the word ‘Go’. The time between Attention and Go, shall not exceed 5 seconds. A Helm who raises a hand after the word Attention and before Go, will be ignored if, in the opinion of the Starter, the boats are correctly aligned.
  1. False Starts - If a crew starts after the word Attention but before Go, it has made a False Start. The Starter shall determine if a False Start has been made and will immediately recall the crews by shouting STOP, STOP, STOP.
  1. Re-Call - Once all crews have returned to the Start Line, the Starter will identify the crew or crews responsible for the False Start and warn them of their offence. If the same crew causes two False starts the Starter shall exclude them from the race. Any crew that fails to return to the Start Line immediately after a False Start, may be excluded from the race, or get a time penalty, of up to five seconds, which will be added to their race time.
  1. Finishes - After finishing a race, each participating crew must return immediately to the Embarking area by paddling outside the Racing Course. This task must be completed within a maximum of 3 minutes from the finish of the race.
  1. Disembarking - After disembarking from the boat the crew is responsible for immediately returning the paddles and buoyancy aids used to the correct boat marshalling area or storage bins if supplied.
  1. Race Conduct - Crews must paddle in a straight line and keep within their allotted lane from the start to the finish of their race. It is forbidden to knowingly impede other boats. Steerers must order their paddlers to ‘stop paddling’ if a collision is imminent. CREWS THAT DO NOT STOP PADDLING AND, BY SO DOING CAUSE A COLLISION, MAY BE DISQUALIFIED FROM THE COMPETITION.
  1. Collisions and Capsizes - Any crew that causes a boat to collide with another one or that damages the boat or paddles, or that deliberately swamps or causes a boat to capsize including their own, risks disqualification from the competition.
  2. Officials - All Race Officials are responsible to the Chief Official for the conduct of the races and for ensuring that the Festival Rules & Regulations are fully complied with. Crews must follow directions of the Race Officials at all times. The Chief Official’s decision is final and will be made in accordance with the Festival Rules & Regulations.

Competitors Code of Conduct

  1. Code Of Conduct - Crew Managers are requested to bring to the attention of all their crew members that although this is a fun event, safety is paramount, and the instructions of the officials must be adhered to at all times.
  1. Crew Managers - The Race Organiser, Chief Official and Race Officials will only deal with the Crew manager in all respects of race conduct and disputes.

Race Administration

  1. Crew Lists - A combined Crew List & Acknowledgment of Risk form certifying that all crew members are water confident and listing the crew members by name must be completed by each crew and handed to the Race Organiser before the crew competes in its first race. Only those named on the crew list will be allowed to compete. However, additions can be added throughout the day. Failure to complete the Crew List correctly and in full may invalidate the insurance cover provided for crews.
  1. Sponsorship Money - Copies of Crew Sponsorship Forms should be handed in to Race Control on the morning of the event. Only on-line giving totals and completed sponsor forms, with evidence of monies raised for Ailsa's Aim that are handed in on the day will count towards the Charity Trophy and a prize of a special escape room experience at Billing Aquadrome. It is the Crew Managers responsibility to ensure that as soon as is possible all further monies raised are passed to Ailsa's Aim.
  1. Crew Managers Meeting - A Crew Managers meeting will be held at approx 9.15am and it is imperative that ALL CREWS are represented, irrespective of their first race time as this is a Safety Briefing and any changes to the race programme will be announced.

VENUE ADDRESS – Billing Aquadrome, Crow Ln, Great Billing, Northampton NN3 9DA

Venue & Facilities

  1. Marquees & Toilets - Pre-booked crew gazebos have been allocated on a first come, first served basis and will be clearly labelled with the company name. No additional units will be available on the day. Crews wishing to bring their own mini marquees/gazebos (max 3m x 3m) can do and site them in the designated areas, which will be clearly marked. It is the crew’s responsibility to ensure they are properly secured for the conditions on the day. Please note for safety, BBQs are not allowed INSIDE gazebos. Toilet facilities will be available at the race venue. The organisers and their representatives accept no responsibility for any items of clothing, bags, and valuables etc. that are left anywhere on the site.
  1. Crew Branding – Crews, if they wish, are permitted to display ONE banner or sign (max 10’ length) or flag either on or adjacent to their gazebo.
  1. Car Parking

    Parking map

    Crews will have one vehicle pass available - free of charge. Please present your pass at the security gates. 

    Any other vehicles will be charged £5 for a day. Please refer to usual payment terms at Billing Aquadrome.

  1. How to Get There - Racing takes place at Billing Aquadrome, Crow Ln, Great Billing, Northampton NN3 9DA. by "The Venue". A map showing how to get to the Race Venue is enclosed

        How to get there - Map

  1. Arrival/Check In Times - Crews should ensure that they arrive at the competition site at least one hour before their first race. Earliest access time to the site is from 7.30am. Crew Managers or their representatives, should check in with Race Control as soon as they arrive and also again once their complete team is on site to hand in their completed crew list.

Festival Charity

The charity partner for the 2024 Northampton Dragon Boat Festival is Ailsa's Aim

Our story

What we deliver leaflet

About us:

At Ailsa's Aim, our unwavering commitment is to provide comprehensive support to individuals and families facing challenging health circumstances. We extend our compassionate services across more than 20 hospitals, wards, centres and schools in the UK, offering a helping hand to patients battling cancer and to families with babies in special care. Our dedicated team tirelessly provides crucial support, effective signposting, and invaluable Essential Care Packs to those in need. Our hope is that we are delivering rays of sunshine to each beneficiary and their loved ones and carers, as well as supporting the excellent work of health and social care professionals. Each care pack, carefully curated with essential personal care and hygiene items, costs us £7.50 but is generally worth £50-100 - but here's the remarkable part: we provide these packs entirely free of charge to our beneficiaries. It's our belief that, in times of vulnerability, when we have had no time or ability to prepare and plan, access to care, support and essential resources should be unconditional. This is why our strapline is “Putting You First.” With the continued support of donors and companies sponsoring our events and activities, we can ensure that no-one faces these challenges alone, fostering hope, resilience, and comfort throughout their journey. Join us in making a difference, one care pack at a time. 


To find out more about what we do, how you can help, or to make a donation to Ailsa's Aim, please ’Get Onboard’ at!

England and Wales Registered Charity No. 1188783

Facebook @ailsasaim

Instagram ailsas_aim

Call us on 07919536833


Top fundraisers’ prize

The team raising the most money for Ailsa‘s Aim will be awarded the charity trophy and receive a special escape rooms experience from Trapp‘d for the whole crew at Billing Aquadrome. Visit or tel 01604 379812


What’s on at a Glance

Apart from the spectacular racing which will take place every 10-15 minutes, the following activities will run continually on the bank for both competitors and spectators.

For adults and children

A range of side activities for all ages including small fairground rides and inflatables.

Billing Aquadrome funfair will also be open

Food Stalls

Billing Aquadrome will provide catering for the event which will include; burgers, hotdogs, vegeterian options, ice cream, donuts, soft drinks & alcoholic refreshments. Payments by card and cash will be accepted. 

Partner Stalls

You can find out more about the work of Ailsa's Aim and meet the teams from  Revolution Radio, Business Times & NN Pulse Magazine.


Elevate the excitement at this year's Dragon Boat Festival with captivating live caricature artistry! Our skilled artist, known for entertaining audiences nationwide, will be on-site in Northampton. With a talent for quick black and white (and colour) sketches, each completed in around 5 minutes, our artist adds a unique and lively element to the festivities. Perfect for individuals or groups, this engaging experience is sure to leave a lasting impression at the Dragon Boat Festival – a memorable blend of art and entertainment!


Enjoy a drink at The Venue. Dragon boat paddlers please remember alcohol and watersports do not mix so please restrict your drinking of alcohol until after your last race of the day.


Photos 2024 - LINK 

Please share them on your social media and tag NewWave Events and festival partners 🙂 


*Please note, participants and spectators must acknowledge the fact this event is in the public arena and therefore by entering the venue, this may result in the recording of his/her image.

Our photographer for 2024 Northampton Dragon Boat Festival is Georgie Tombs.

Safety on the Water

  1. Fit To Race - The safety of a Dragon Boat Crew on the water is of prime concern to everyone associated with the event, not least the crew itself, who have a responsibility to conduct themselves properly, in both a competitive and social sense. Crew Managers are to ensure that their crews are fully briefed on the contents of the BDA ‘Safety on the Water’ guide, a copy of which is enclosed in this Crew Managers Pack.
  1. Crew Checking - All crews will be checked by the Chief Boat Marshall, before they embark, to ensure that they are ‘Fit to Race’. If a crew or competitor is deemed not to be ‘Fit to Race’, they will not be allowed to race and may be disqualified for the remainder of the competition.
  1. Alcohol - Alcohol and water sports DO NOT MIX. It is the Crew Managers responsibility to ensure that all their crew members are advised that any crew or competitor deemed to be unfit to Race due to alcohol and or drugs will be disqualified from the competition. This is for your own safety.
  1. Water Safety Cover - There will be a minimum of two safety boats on the water at all times. All safety boats are manned by fully qualified rescue boat staff.
  1. First Aid Cover - A professional Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with full response kit will be on site at all times during the event. Also, most of the event staff are trained to deal with minor first aid incidents.
  1. Dress - It is recommended that all competitors wear shorts, T-shirt and old trainers for racing and bring with them a wind/waterproof jacket. Footwear that is secured to the foot must be worn whilst racing e.g. trainers, sandals etc. i.e. no flip flops etc. Crew members are NOT allowed to wear boots in the boats and jeans are not recommended. It is also advisable that everyone brings a towel and change of clothes, as competitors can expect to get damp from the splashes made during racing.

British Dragon Boat Racing Association

Guide to Safety on the Water

This guide is primarily for those organising or competing in the sport of Dragon Boat Racing.   It covers their responsibilities when participating in a dragon boat event and should therefore be used as a general guide to ‘Safety on the Water’ in a competitive situation. 

The Conditions

Because of the size and design of the Dragon Boat, and the water conditions in which racing takes place, that is placid water, dragon boating is inherently safe and a capsize especially in such conditions, unless the crew is at fault, is a rarity.

However, in any water sport, because of the environment itself, there is always an element of danger.  Add to this the folly and impatience of human nature and the ingredients for an accident may eventually come together to the detriment of the sport as a whole.  Dragon Boat Racing is no exception to the rule and it is the duty of all who practise the sport - competitors, race organisers, coaches and officials alike - to be aware of the potential dangers inherent in the sport; to be safety conscious - not safety extreme - and to ensure that dragon boating is conducted in a responsible manner.

In adverse weather conditions and when there are strong winds, Dragon Boats can be swamped with water and have been known to capsize, especially when turning sideways on to the prevailing wind or wave pattern.  The inexperience of the crew in such circumstances can be a major factor in a boat capsizing. 

In all water conditions, good or bad, the key to safety is the application of good old COMMON SENSE by all those taking part in the activity.  Playing around in a Dragon Boat and deliberately capsizing it, even in warm and sunny conditions, can be dangerous to both the crew and other water users alike.  In certain circumstances it could be lethal; a Dragon Boat moving at speed through the water cannot easily be stopped and another crew in the water from a capsized boat cannot easily be seen!  Crews that deliberately cause their boat or another boat to capsize when racing, or who ram another boat during the event, will be disqualified from the event.

Who is Responsible

Dragon Boat Racing is a ‘team sport’, each boat can carry a crew of up to 11 persons.  It is not unusual for over 72 competitors to be on the water, in one race.  The safety of this number of competitors at any one time, is the concern of many people but primarily the Event Organiser and the Chief Official. However, ‘Safety on the Water’ is also the concern of every Crew Member

The Responsibilities

The broad areas of responsibility for safety are:-

The Event Organiser - It is the Event Organiser’s responsibility to ensure that adequate rescue boats, rescue personnel and Personal Flotation Aids (PFAs) are obtained for the event; that First Aid cover is provided off the water; that changing facilities and toilets are provided and that all temporary structures comply with health and safety regulations.  The Event Organiser shall ensure that Crews are sent basic information on all safety matters appertaining to the competition.

The Chief Official - It is the Chief Official’s responsibility to ensure that during the racing, all rescue boats are in place and briefed; that in all conditions competitors wear PFAs and that all weak swimmers make themselves known to their helm before they get in the boat; and that all the safety procedures laid down by the Organisers are complied with.

The Crew Manager - It is the Crew Manager’s responsibility to ensure that all the crew members are water confident; that any weak swimmers are noted on their Crew List; that the combined Crew List and Acknowledgment of Risk Form is completed and lodged with Race Control; that the crew is briefed on the Racing Rules and ‘Safety on the Water’ and that at all times they are ‘fit to race’.  This means that it is the Crew Manager’s responsibility to ensure that ‘socialising’ does not adversely affect the safety and performance of the crew on the water.

The Crew Members - It is the responsibility of the individual crew members to ensure that when they are on the water that they are adequately dressed for the weather conditions on the day and comply with all instructions given to them.  Dragon Boating is a social sport too, so the safety of the whole crew must not be jeopardised through the consumption of alcohol or drugs; or thoughtlessness or horseplay by individual crew members.

The Helm (Boat Steerer) - The Helm is the Boat Captain.   It is the Helm’s responsibility to make the final check to ensure that that the boat is water worthy and in racing condition.  The Helm shall ensure that all crew members are correctly briefed on boat handling and capsize drills and that they are suitably dressed for the weather conditions and not wearing anything that may impede their ability to exit the boat or swim, in the event of a capsize or boat swamping.  When on the water the Helm shall ensure that collisions with other craft are avoided.  In the event of a Crew capsizing, the Helm shall ensure that the capsize drills are correctly carried out and that all crew members are accounted for and rescued

The Safety Officer - It is the Event Safety Officer’s responsibility to ensure that all Officials and Crew Managers are aware of, and briefed regarding ‘Safety on the Water’ and any notifiable diseases, for example Weil’s disease.  The Safety Officer is responsible for ensuring that the Chief Boat Marshall is made aware of any known weak swimmers or competitors with medical conditions that may affect their ability to race.  The Safety Officer is responsible for producing a safety plan for the competition, to include a water circulation system for crews going to the start or ‘warming up’.

The Chief Boat Marshall - The Chief Boat Marshall shall determine if a crew is ‘fit to race’ or not and will keep a record of the number of people embarked in each boat, in each race.  The Chief Boat Marshall shall ensure that all boats and equipment are in good racing condition before the first race and that they remain in good racing condition throughout the competition.

The Detail

Swimming - The Standard Required - Ideally, all members in a dragon boat crew should be able to swim at least 50 metres, but as a minimum, they must be water confident in cold and moving water and when dressed in light clothing, that is, racing dress (shorts and vest) plus waterproof top and trousers and light footwear (trainers or similar footwear) and wearing a PFA.

Personal Floatation Aids (PFAs) - When to wear them - Personal Floatation Aid (PFA), such as a Buoyancy Aid MUST be worn by all competitors whilst in a dragon boat and in the boat marshalling area and/or on the pontoons. The Race Organisers will supply these.

Safety on Embarkation

Boat Balance - Before leaving the embarking area, the Helm should ensure that the boat is well balanced.  That is, that each pair of racers are of similar weight or height and that, generally, the heavier pairs are seated in the boat’s middle section. The Helm must know the number of people in the boat.

The Buddy System - The crew should be ‘numbered off’ from the front of the boat and made aware that they are each responsible for the person they are paired with (across the boat) and that in the event of a capsize or the boat being swamped and sinking, their first responsibility is to themselves then to ensure that their partner is safe and well. 

This is called the ‘buddy system’ and it gives each person in the boat a specific responsibility for another.  The ‘Stroke Pair’ (first pair – No.2 left and 3 right) in the boat are responsible for the Drummer (1) and the ‘rear pair’ (last pair) for the Helm.

Steadying the Boat - A boat will feel ‘tippy’ especially if the crew is out of balance or moving about in an uncoordinated manner.  To steady the boat in such circumstances (and when sideways on to the wind or wave pattern) the crew should be instructed by the Helm to slightly lean out over the side of the boat and place their paddle blades flat on the water, at arm’s length. 

With all of the paddles on the water in this manner the boat is effectively stabilised.  This is called a paddle brace and the Helm’s command should be ‘Brace the Boat’.

Stopping the Boat - When manoeuvring, turning or racing the boat it may be necessary to stop the boat suddenly, to avoid a collision with another boat or object.  It is important that the crew reacts quickly but safely. An unbalanced crew over-reacting can capsize their own boat!  The quickest way to stop a boat is for the crew to do a reverse paddle stroke, that is, everyone takes a backwards stroke with their paddle instead of a forward stroke.

The initial command should be ‘Stop Paddling’ followed immediately by ‘Brace the Boat’ if the boat is unstable and there is no immediate danger of a collision.  If there is a danger of a collision the command ‘Stop the Boat’ should be given and the Crew instructed by the Helm to paddle backwards. 

In a race situation when a collision is imminent, the Helm must immediately tell the crew to ‘Stop the Boat’.  Failure by the Crew to stop the boat in such circumstances will result in disqualification.

Rescue Boats

The number of rescue boats that an Event Organiser provides will vary according to the number of boats in each race and conditions on the day.  The chances of more than one boat capsizing in a race are extremely low and therefore, unless the weather conditions are extreme, it should not be necessary to have more than two safety boats in total at any one event. 

Each boat should ideally be able to hold at least eight (8) passengers and should not carry more than two crew members, that is, the driver and an assistant to help with any rescues. 

At least one rescue boat should be on the water for each race.  The rescue boats should have a low freeboard and hand ropes on it, to allow a person to enter the boat from the water unaided.  A throw line, kept on the boat, is also advised.

Capsized Dragon Boat

What to Do - In the event of a Dragon Boat capsizing each pair of paddlers should account for their buddies. The Helm should immediately ensure that all the crew are accounted for by calling out their numbers and noting the response.  The crew must initially stay with the boat and leave it in the capsized position. When a boat has over-turned never swim underneath it, but in such circumstances it can be used as a floating platform, provided the crew space themselves evenly around the boat.   Alternatively, under the instructions of the Boat Captain the boat may be rolled back to the upright position and used to support the crew. In all situations the Helm should remain in control of the crew and, in a race situation, await the arrival of the rescue boats.  The crew should, if their paddles are within easy reach, attempt to retrieve them.

On the arrival of the rescue boats, the crew should move as directed by the operators
of the boats, with the Boat Helm remaining in the water until all members of the crew
have been rescued. 

Recovery of Craft - As soon as the boat is alongside the water’s edge, the crew must again be accounted for on the land and any injuries dealt with immediately.  If upturned, the boat may then be turned the right way up (in the water) and bailing out commenced.  The boat should not be lifted out of the water unless there is only a small amount of water left in it, as this puts a considerable strain on the hull of the boat.  Once the boat is almost empty of water it may be lifted on to the bank and checked for damage and all the boat’s equipment accounted for.

IN CONCLUSION: Safety is the concern of every crew member and is largely a matter of COMMON SENSE - USE IT!  The overall responsibility for the crew off the water is the Crew Manager’s and on the water is the Boat Helm’s. 

It is every competitor and official’s responsibility to ensure that Dragon Boat Racing is conducted as SAFELY AS POSSIBLE - DO IT!

BDA ‘warning’ information leaflet

Leptospirosis and Weil’s disease

It is stressed that LeptoSpirosis and Weil’s disease are both rare but can be caught by anyone engaged in a water sport.  The information in this leaflet is published on the basis that ‘forewarned is forearmed’.  ENJOY YOUR RACE BUT - BEWARE OF LEPTO SPIROSIS and WEIL’S DISEASE.

What is It?

LeptoSpirosis is an animal infection.  After recovery the animal excretes the organisms in its urine.  The bacteria survive for days or even weeks in moist conditions but only for a few hours in salt water.  The infection is caught by direct contact with urine or a polluted environment.  Bacteria enter through skin abrasions or via the eyes, nose or mouth.

The Illness

The usual incubation period is 2 to 12 days.  Usually a ‘flu’ like illness occurs which resolves itself in 2 to 3 weeks.  There may be fever, severe headache, pains in the back and calf and prostration.  A few cases develop jaundice when the condition is known as Weil’s Disease.  Although death may occur in about 15% of the jaundiced patients, death without jaundice is virtually unknown.  Antibiotics during the first few days help in limiting the infection.  Many people recover without specific treatment.

What to Do

If you think that you may have the infection go to your doctor and say that you participate in water sports and think that there may be risk of LeptoSpirosis.  The doctor’s diagnosis is by clinical suspicion.  Blood tests can rarely confirm the illness in time to effect treatment.  They may, however, subsequently confirm it.

The microbiologist at the local hospital is the best source of advice.


  1. Cover all cuts and abrasions with waterproof plasters.
  2. Always wear footwear to avoid cutting your feet.
  3. Avoid capsize drills or swimming in suspect water.
  4. Where at all possible, shower soon after Dragon Boating.
  5. If in doubt, contact your doctor early.

The Level of Risk

On average each year, 9 water sports people contract LeptoSpirosis.  The instances of infection are therefore very rare and its deterioration into Weil’s disease even rarer.  Weil’s disease is, however, a very serious illness which must be diagnosed and treated swiftly.