Fitness ★ Community ★ Competition


Learn To Paddle

Come learn to paddle with us! Our beginner practice is a perfect place to start. No prior experience or equipment necessary. Starting in April, we run beginner practice every Saturday from 8:30am to 10:00am. Go to the “Join Us” section in the top navigation of the website. Complete the waiver, and sign up for a specific practice date and time so that we know to expect you. Read through Practice Info for general information and Directions & Maps for practice location. Don’t hesitate to Contact Us if you have any questions.


Come socialize with us on or off the water! Our club is 100+ members and growing. We attract paddlers from all walks of life and from every age bracket. Our social committee organizes monthly happy hours, barbecues, club parties, community service events, and many other ways of having fun together as a team. Meet new people, explore DC, and give a helping hand.

 Race With Us

Want to experience the adrenaline rush of dragon boat racing? Our club participates in several races each season, both in the DC area and across the country. All paddlers have the opportunity to race with the club-inclusive team. For the more competitive paddler, try out for our premier race team. With some of the most talented dragon boat coaches in the DC area, you’ll gain top-notch instruction and race with other committed athletes.


At DCDBC, we work very hard to serve the best interest of all of our members. We are not focused on dogmatic paddling ideologies, nor do we feel that there is a cookie cutter solution to help people accomplish their goals. We are in love with the processes of building people up, we are constantly experimenting, and we measure our progress with sweat, speed, and smiles.

Why Dragon Boating?

Dragon boating is an activity that transcends the traditional boundaries found in other sports competed on the international stage. Dragon boating is a sport for all ages, levels of athleticism, and time commitment. Whether you are looking for a way to get some fresh air during the week, or would like to become an elite athlete competing at the highest level, DCDBC can help you achieve your goals.

A Little About Us

Founded in March 2008, the DC Dragon Boat Club, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes individual and community participation in the sport of dragon boating. We encourage awareness and stewardship of the area’s waterways through recreational and competitive programs that foster physical fitness, camaraderie, and leadership skills.







Fund Raising




The standard yearly fee for membership is $150, which is less than what a good dragon boat paddle and PFD costs. Any additional funds our club is able to bring in go directly toward maintenance costs, equipment purchases, and the procurement of training opportunities and facilities for our members. Should you feel generous, DCDBC is always thankful for any extra funds we can acquire in the form of donations.Your donation is fully tax-deductible. Please fill out this form with your donation amount, sign it, and confirm the email once you receive it. The club treasurer will verify the amount you entered, countersign the receipt and send you a copy. The signed receipt can be submitted with your tax filing to claim your tax deduction.

You may be able to double or even triple your gift by taking advantage of your company’s matching gift program. Some employers even match gifts from retirees. Is your company a matching gift company? Check with your Human Resources department.


Where is Practice?

We practice at The Wharf. Check the Directions & Maps for parking or public transportation options.

When is Practice?

Beginner Practice: Saturdays 8:30-10:00am

Beginner Practice Sign-up

Regular Practice: Saturdays 8:30-10am, Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:30-8:00pm

Regular club practice sign-up will be made available to you once you become a DCDBC member

All practices are composed of 30 minutes essential warm-up on land and then 1 hour of training on the water.

Contact US (For Questions or To Just Say HI)

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What to Expect:

8:30 am Check in in front of Shake Shack/General Instructions
8:35 am Warm-up
8:50 am Roster Final Check/Boat Seating Allocation
8:55 am Head Down To The Docks – Pickup Paddles/PFDs, Board The Boat (Remember Your Seating Position)
9:00 am Practice Starts
10:00 am Practice Ends

What to Wear:

Dragon boating is a water sport. Dress as if you would go to a water park, canoeing or kayaking, and prepare to get a little wet. Most newcomers will tend to splash water, so wear light swim- or exercise-type clothing that won’t weigh down if soaked. Avoid wearing cotton as it soaks and retains water, making you feel uncomfortable, will conduct away body heat, and may restrict your movement. While on the boat, you can wear sneakers, water shoes, or flip flops. A pair of sunglasses will both help keep out the glare and protect your eyes from splashing water. A hat is highly recommended to keep you cool when exposed to the sun in the middle of the river, and it helps keep your head from getting wet. Sunscreen would be helpful in keeping you from getting burned. Being in the middle of the river exposes you more directly under sunlight. The bench in a dragon boat is hard and can wear on your derriere. Sitting on gardening kneeling pad works well for most people.

What to Bring:

Not much, except a 500ml bottle or two of water. 
You will definitely need water, even when it’s not hot.

What will be Provided

We have a life vest (also know as a PFD — Personal Floatation Device) and a paddle for you.


In case of uncooperative weather (Hurricane, Tornadoes, Severe Thunderstorms, Hail, Torrential Rain) we will cancel practice. If you provide an e-mail address, or you follow us on twitter, you will get a message either the night before in case of severe weather, or a couple hours before practice.


A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft traditionally made in the Pearl River Delta region of China’s southern Guangdong Province out of wood to various designs and sizes. It is one of a family of Traditional Paddled Long Boats found throughout Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. Dragon boats are the basis of the team-paddling sport of dragon boat racing, an amateur watersport which has its roots in an ancient folk ritual that contending villagers held over the past 2000 years throughout southern China. While ‘competition’ has taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of religious ceremonies and folk customs, dragon boat racing has emerged in modern times as an international sport, beginning in Hong Kong in 1976.


Imagine, on a sunny weekend on the the river at the heart of the Nation’s Capital, or while on tour at any waterway across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, or South Africa, you move in unison with 19 other teammates, paddling like mad along four or eight other colorful 45-foot boats, to the loud drum beats and team yells while thousand spectators cheer on from the shore.

Dragon Boating is a fun, healthy, refreshing sport in open water and open air that imparts many physical and social benefits. It is one of the best sports for the core, legs, and back muscles, shoulders, arms and thighs. It is also a team sport with a dash of culture and a great competitive edge to surely bring that athlete out of you.The sport has 3 basic components: A boat, a steersperson, and a crew. The crew sits side-by-side, and can have up to 22 team members per boat. Races are held around both the region and world, and at different levels of competition.


Teambuilding: Getting 20 paddlers to do the same thing at precisely the same time takes a great deal of teamwork!

Core and Cardio Exercise: This type of activity hits all the areas most gym workouts do not target, to include abs, all aspects of the back, and legs. Practices vary in length and exertion levels, but typically last for a full hour. You will typically burn around 700-1000 calories while enjoying the scenery of our nation’s capital!

Community: Anyone is welcome to join the fun. As this is a non-contact sport, a variety of age levels can participate. The team’s social committee organizes events on and off the water in the DC metro area, including community service activities.

Camaraderie: Make new friends and have new experiences. Regional weekend travel to nearby cities for races, such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. Group activities such as white water rafting, tubing, and barbecues.

Leadership: Want to learn to coach or steer a dragon boat? We’ll teach you! Want to take up a more active role in the organization of the club? We have a Board of Directors and many opportunities for members to get involved. Leadership is many things, including sharing your skills with kids, helping expand our programs, or bringing a group of your own to join our club and share in the fun!


Dragon Boat racing requires a high degree of responsiveness from all members for safety and competitiveness. When a boat needs to make an immediate quick maneuver, responding timely to commands will surely help keep things safe and fun for all.

LOAD THE BOAT: Step onto the boats after having put on and buckled your PFD, with everything ready to go. When getting on the boat, be sure to do so one person at a time, one foot at a time. Start by stepping as close to the middle of the boat as possible, and once both feet are in, keep your profile low –in effect, lower the center of gravity.

SIT READY/READY ALL: Sit up straight and hold the paddle across your legs, extending the blade out to the water. This is a straight posture but relaxed position, used for reinforcing attention and focus through the entire crew.

PADDLES UP: Hold the paddle in the A-frame forward ready position. Blade slightly touching the water surface in front. This command is to get everyone to start the synchronization of the the very first stroke to take the boat away. This is only done in non-race maneuvering. In races, we would use a different command for the “get set & ready ” position.

GO/TAKE IT AWAY: Simply start paddling.

HOLD WATER/CHECK THE BOAT: Action to stop the boat from moving. Plant your paddle swiftly and fully perpendicular to the gunwale and brace with your body to stop the boat from moving forward or back.

DRAW (LEFT / RIGHT): The paddlers will lean out to the side and pull water (deep) towards themselves – like having lost an object and trying to scoop it back. This is essential on the starting line, or when the boat needs to make quick turns, when winds may drift the boat sideways and the steersperson is trying to line the boat up directly down the course. Often, the steersperson will only call “First Two,” or “First Three Draw Left/Right” or “Back Two/Three.” The numbers mean the seat number. “First Three Draw Left” means the first three seats draw on the left side (the left-sitting persons only as in this case, we need to draw in from left).

PUSH (LEFT/ RIGHT): This command is the exact opposite of DRAW. Bury the blade deeply below the boat, with the blade’s flat surface parallel to the gunwale, and push outward.

FOCUS (used at DC Dragon Boat Club): Suspend conversation, diversions, distractions and focus in the boat and on the task at hand.

LET IT RUN (or Let it Ride): Stop paddling and hold the paddle in the sit-ready position, blade on top of the water to maintain balance while letting the boat continue to glide.

BRACE THE BOAT: To stabilize the boat. Paddle blades flat on the surface of the water with blades gently feathering back and forth.The shaft of the paddle pressed against the top of the gunwales.


MOVE UP: “First Three Seats, Give Me 3 Strokes.” Steerer commands certain seats (always paddler pair in this case) to paddle exactly 1, or 2, or 3 strokes to get the boat to alignment at the start line.

BACK DOWN: “Last Three Seats, Give Me 3 BACK Strokes.” The boat has glided across the start line and needs to back down. Steerer commands certain seats (always paddler pair in this case) to paddle exactly 1, or 2, or 3 back strokes to get the boat to alignment at the start line.

ALL BOATS HOLD: Starter referee’s call signifying that he/she is getting alignment of all boats. Be ready and focus on your team only to respond, the race is starting any second.

WE HAVE ALIGNMENT/ARE YOU READY?: Starter referee’s call signifying that he/she HAS EXACT ALIGNMENT. You should be hearing ATTENTION from your steerer at this time.

ATTENTION (Please): Your steerer’s command to get into attention position. Typically it will be Canadian race management companies that say “please,” such as GWN—our polite neighbors to the north.

GO! (HORN or GUN sound): Your steerer’s command to begin the race –take off on your start sequence.


From the Waterfront/SEU Metro: Exit the Metro Station & turn Right on M Street, which turns into Maine Ave. Cross the street to your Left, onto 6th St, toward the waterfront. DC Dragon Boat Club is located at The Wharf. We meet in front of the Shake Shack.

From the Circulator Bus, Convention-Waterfront Line: The Circulator Bus runs daily, every 10 minutes, from the convention center with stops along the way through the city. Disembark at the last stop in the direction of SW Waterfront.

From I-395, Virginia/Maryland: Take I-395 North toward Washington, D.C., cross the 14th Street bridge. Take the exit to Maine Avenue and keep to the right which puts you on 9th Street, SW. At the traffic light, go straight through the intersection to Water Street, SW and then turn left.

From New York Avenue, 7th Street NW, the National Mall: Follow New York Avenue into Washington, D.C., follow signs toward Massachusetts Avenue. Before reaching Massachusetts Ave., turn left onto 7th Street, NW and take 7th Street south across the Mall. 7th Street ends at Water Street, SW. Turn left on Water Street.


The DC Dragon Boat Club practices at The Wharf.

975 Wharf Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024

When you first arrive, look for a bunch of paddlers gathered in front of Shake Shack. The Wharf is conveniently located along Maine Avenue in Southwest DC, just a short walkable distance from the Washington Monument / National Mall, across from East Potomac / Hains Point Park, or a short walk from either the Waterfront or L’enfant metro stations.

Parking Information During Practice Hours

Street parking is available on Water Street & Maine Avenue with 2-hour meters now enforced from 7am-midnight, Mon-Sat. Sunday Parking is free. You can park for free for two hours on the adjacent 4th street and 6th street, as well as further along Maine Avenue toward the Waterfront metro station. These parking areas are within 200-300 meters from The Marina. See the map below for parking.