6 Common Kinds of Paddlers You Paddle With In The Boat

In your paddling life, you’d meet different kinds of people with different personalities and from different backgrounds, too. Some you’d easily get along with, some you just wouldn’t. And that’s okay because, first and foremost, you joined the team to paddle and there’s a lot more reasons for you to still be able to eat, sleep, and breathe the sport of paddling.

To be truly part of the team is to play your part: to be full of hope, to be willing to learn and work hard, and, most importantly, to be kind towards your teammates. What kind of a paddler are you?

1. The Motivator

He’s the one who pushes you to do your best–to paddle harder and to train more often. While he does his best to embolden and encourage you to put more effort in learning the techniques, he shows you how it’s done and he makes sure that you dig your paddle deep with your soul and might.

2. The Whiner

This paddler does more whining rather than paddling. It can be about the training program, the new coach, or anything that’s not paddling-related even. It’s just non-stop and it drains everyone’s energy and patience. If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly by anyone from the team, try to open up a dialogue but be pleasant and treat it with utmost professionalism.

3. The Ball of Fire

He gives his all. He shows up in all scheduled practices and he performs his best. He believes that putting effort in training will make him a better paddler, a better teammate. For when the races come, he is ready and his mindset would be like: It’s just one of those regular trainings, only with Umpires and Judges.

4. The Unenthusiastic

He may show up at practices but with such low energy and the performance is half-baked. It’s better to get your focus back, re-fuel, and then go back to practice. The paddler’s power and performance, or lack of it, during the training period will determine the team’s performance on actual race days.

5. The Keeper

He values the team’s unity, in and out of the boat. He keeps them excited to go to training and he persuades teammates who have not been training to come back and paddle. He’s everyone’s friend and you want to paddle alongside him always. He’s the team’s positive energy and the watchdog of whiners.

6. The Boat Wrecker

Quite obviously, this person is unhappy, therefore he does things that demoralises a teammate or the entire team—and so the boat becomes so much heavier. Every so often, they’re the ones who’s not performing at practices and fails at fitness tests. That’s why it’s important to be goal-oriented yourself and then align it with the team’s objectives and aspirations.

If you’ve got anything to add, kindly send us your suggestion/s through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eugephemisms/

Photo credit: Christine Pezzulo; GIFs via Giphy

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9 Dragon Boat Principles to Help you Win at Life

The sport of Dragon Boat has taught you many lessons that you can apply in real life. Teamwork and camaraderie for example, are just two of a number of life principles that you may have picked up or developed from the sport. To make your dragon boating life more meaningful, you should embrace all the learnings from it, especially those that make you an expert about life.

Qualities like mental toughness, being a team player, or having a winning mindset are just some of the takeaways you have acquired from dragon boat. Here’s a few compilation of some of the most inspiring words of wisdom by national athletes from around the world; and here’s hoping that you may embody these amazing qualities to help you and your team in stepping up your game, in sport, and, in life.

Ed Nguyen

1. Leave your Ego by the Dock Site

“That one crucial part is for members to leave their ego at the door. You can have a team full of the best athletes in the world, but if they can’t check their egos and blend with humility, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Christine Pezzulo, National Athlete – Team USA

2. Paddles Up! Persevere!

“Keep going, keep your head up, be proud! Always reach further, I was told I would never walk again! I could not, WOULD not accept that! You keep battling! Afghanistan was my war, now my injury is my war! Life is for living; live it to the max.”

Mark Harding, National Athlete – Great Britain Dragon Boat Team

3. Listen to the Beat of the Drum

“I always maintain a healthy respect for my paddlers of all levels, since I am often paddling in the boat with them too. I am aware that as a sole person I may not see or understand all things of all paddlers at all times. So I encourage healthy discussion and conversation from my paddlers. This two-way dialogue encourages respect and cohesion amongst the paddlers.”

Dennis Wright, National Athlete – Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team

4. Keep a Fit Mind and Body

“I think the key to success in sport is staying physically and mentally energetic by staying motivated and free from physical obstacles like injuries and illnesses.”

Carl Marco Wassén, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Sweden (Sverige)

5. Paddle with your Heart

“We play sports like dragon boat because we love doing it. The awards and medals are only a small part of it. Yes, you will strive to be the best but in so doing, loving and enjoying the sport is already an ultimate goal achieved.”

Nutcharat Chimbanrai, National Athlete – Thailand Dragon Boat Team

6. Practice builds Confidence

“Never give up and have a big goal and ambition. One needs to be very confident on training and during competition. The most important thing is to keep training and practice a lot.”

Wu Chun-Chieh, National Athlete – Chinese-Taipei Dragon Boat Team

7. Motivated to Motivate

“One thing that keeps me going when I’m tired during a race or in training is the knowledge that my teammates around me are hurting just as much and that my opponents are pushing themselves even harder.”

Kiyoshi Morishita, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Canada

8. Synchronised for One Goal

“Unity is important especially in a team because without it you will not achieve your goal. For example, when our team is focused on a certain programme today, it requires everyone to be united in following and doing it; when others did not perform well, we need to do it again and again until we have perfected it.”

Riza Canonoy, National Athlete – Philippine National Dragon Boat Team

9. Celebrate Victory, but..

“The victories in the past give self-confidence of course and also the necessary composure for the upcoming challenges. However, one shouldn’t relax on the victories from the past; there will always be new aims, new opponents and therefore also new duties.”

Marc Rößler, National Athlete – Team Germany (Deutschland)

Ed Nguyen

Photo Credits: Ed Nguyen Photography

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Dragon Boat World Athlete: Are you too young to start Paddling?

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Paul Alex Kandler, National Athlete – Team Germany.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler


NAME: Paul Alex Kandler
BIRTHPLACE: Neustrelitz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
AGE: 20yo
POSITION: Paddler (Occasional Pacer/Schlagmann)
HEIGHT: 186cm
WEIGHT: 85kg
STATUS: Single

German Championships 2014, Schwerin, Bronze – Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m
9th IDBF Dragon Boat Club Crew World Championships, Ravenna, Bronze – Mixed, Small Boat, 500m (Uckermark U18)
Vize European Master 2014, Silver – Mixed, Standard Boat, 2000m
Vize European Master 2014, 2 Bronzes – Mixed, Standard Boat, 2000m, 500m
Vize European Master 2014, Bronze – Open, Small Boat, 200m
11th EDBF European Dragon Boat Nations Championships, Racice, Bronze – U18, Small Boat, 200m
Vize Weltmeister 2015, 2 Silvers – Open, Small Boat, 2000m, 500m
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships 2015, Welland, 2 Silvers; 1 BronzeOpen, Small Boat; U24 Small Boat, 200m

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

It’s beneficial to become athletic at a young age. Though it’s not set in stone as to what age is ‘too young’ for one to start, it certainly helps to be exposed to sports early–it keeps the body active and it also helps improve self-esteem and physical health. Experts say that athletes tend to develop their mental abilities better than non-athletes.

According to results of a study by Jocelyn Faubert, “It is clear that a remarkable mental processing and learning abilities should be acknowledged as critical elements for world-class performance in sport and potentially elite performance abilities in other dynamic contexts¹.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

While it doesn’t matter what kind of sport you’re leaning to focus on, starting young gives you more room for discovery and finding your true passion. Just like our next featured Dragon Boat World Athlete, 20 year old, Paul Alex Kandler from Germany.

As a kid, Paul grew up to be fond of any kinds of sports. He played football for several years until the time came when he found his passion in water sports–Stand Up Paddling (SUP), Outrigger Canoeing (OC) and Dragon Boat. He was introduced to the Dragon Boat world through his school team, Carolinum Dragons, and from there he had fallen deep under the ‘spell of the dragon’.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

From his school team in 2013, he joined a local competitive club called: Strelitz Dragons. That’s where he became more and more serious with the sport. He began to join large-scale dragon boat competitions and have clinched several medals with his home team. From then on he was determined to enhance his paddling skills and join major races like the Nationals, Continental and Worlds. He’s been competing for four years now and at his young age, he’s had shown exceptional potential to arise in Premiere level in the near future.

So for those of you who started paddling in your teens like Paul, keep doing what you’re doing and if you aspire to one day represent your country in the World Championships, the right time to start working for it is now. Let’s read on Paul’s experience being with the National Team and what’s the best lesson he has learned from it.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler
Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

Q: Who was your first coach in dragon boat? Who was your first coach in Outrigger Canoe (OC)?

A:My first dragon boat coach was my PE teacher Mr Pfitzner. Now my coaches are from the National Team. In OC, I’m my own coach.

Q: How long have you been with Team Germany? How is the experience so far?

A: I have paddled with the National Team for three years now and can only say that we (athletes) have no fear. Having said this, one just needs to believe in himself that he can do it. The National Team is very sociable and accepting of everyone who has the passion. In the training camp, the athletes give their best to master the training programme. It’s like everyone is racing against themselves. Although the training programme gets intense by the day, no matter what level or age group you are in, with the right workout there is no problem.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler
Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

Q: Will you be representing Team Germany in the upcoming EDBF Championships in June?

A: Yes. I trained hard to be selected and only recently I got the news from our trainer that I got in and I must be there to help the crew.

Q: How are the preparations for the European Championships in June in Rome, Italy?

A: The preparations run according to the training plan that the coach have designed. We have to fulfill it as planned and we have to attend the regular training camps in order for us to have achieve a common goal of having a strong, solid boat.

Q: We understand that aside from Dragon Boat, you also do Outrigger Canoe (OC), how does it benefit your paddling in Dragon Boat?

A: OC is a good alternative when I’m not training with my drachenboot (dragon boat) team. It’s also a great balancing workout so that you can paddle both sides and this is very good for the body.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Paul Alex Kandler

Q: How do you manage your time between dragon boat and OC? Can you share with us the similarities and differences of these two water sports in terms of paddling stroke? Does the stroke sometimes become confusing?

A: I manage it very well. Since dragon boat is a team sport, everyone needs to be there for training unlike in OC, when my team is not available to practice together, I do OC on my own. As for the force required, OC is more difficult because the OC paddle has a larger blade but paddling technique wise, for me it’s very similar. The confusion in the stroke is minimal. You just have to focus on which boat you are paddling in.

Q: As a National Athlete, what is the best lesson you’ve learned so far from the sport of dragon boat?

A: The best lesson I have learned is to not have fear of learning new techniques and strategies for the good of the team. Dragon boat is not just for one person, if everyone is training hard, it’s the team that gets better.


1. Jocelyn Faubert, “Professional athletes have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning complex and neutral dynamic visual scenes”, Nature.com, 31st January 2013, Nature Publishing Group, 24th May 2016

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30 Must-follow Dragon Boat Twitter Accounts 2016

Late last year, we have compiled and featured the Top 30 Dragon Boat Influencers on Twitter. It’s about time to get to know the next batch of boosters and agents who promote the sport through this online social networking microblogging platform. Let’s celebrate them for actively promoting and pushing to popularise the sport and make more people not just become aware but encourage them to try out our beloved sport.

But, why 30? What is its significance to Dragon Boat?

According to International Dragon Boat Federation or IDBF, the international governing body for the team water sport of dragon boat racing: “It was 30 years after the first Hong Kong International Races or HKIR, the numbers show the impressive development of Dragon Boat Sport. 50 million Dragon boaters in China and the sport, through the IDBF, has now spread to all continents’ [sic].”

World Dragon Boat Athletes

“Since the formation of the IDBF, the sport has spread rapidly throughout the world. […] 300,000 in the UK and Europe, including Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia; 90,000 in Canada and the USA and many thousands in Australia and New Zealand and with the sport now spreading through the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific Basin; Dragon Boat Sport, under its governing bodies is a vibrant, effective and independent paddle sport.”

The HKIR in the 70’s is believed to be the start of the ‘Modern Era’ of Dragon Boat Racing. In the present day, the IDBF, EDBF (European), and the ADBF (Asian) Federations are the three Federations who now govern Dragon Boating as practised in over 60 countries.[Source]

Dragon Boat

To come up with the top 30 list, we mainly used search engine & twitter search. The latter is as simple as typing dragon boat keywords on Twitter’s search field and exploring its advance search functionality. For search engine, to put it simply, the keywords will be ‘searched’ based on data which are already indexed in their system, thus the results. Each particular search engine will have varying results because each have their own ranking system and its own unique data gathering and coordinates used.

As to how its metrics and processes work, that’s another technical literature altogether. Let’s not go there for now. For this particular purpose, we used the largest dragon of them all–Google. Here they are in random order.

1. Irish Dragon Boat Team

2. Brisbane River Dragons

3. Stroke it! Dragon Boat Club

4. Stormy Dragons

5. Gushou

6. Southern California Dragon Boat Club

7. Drachenboot-Events

8. UP Dragon Boat Team

9. U.A.E. Dragon Boat Association

10. Raging Dragons

11. Los Angeles Racing Dragons

12. Hope Floats NYC

13. Living Root Dragon Boat

14. Lions Dragon Boating

15. KL Barbarians

16. George Brown Dragon Boat Club – Huskies

17. Philadelphia Dragon Boat Association

18. Dragon Boat Barrie

19. Iron Dragons

20. Dallas United Crew Delite

21. Champion Dragon Boats

22. Team Fusion Dragon Boat

23. Sunnyside Paddling Club

24. Carlow Dragon Boat Club

25. Ryerson Dragon Boat

26. Welsh Dragon Boats

27. DC Dragons

28. Austin Coolers Dragon Boat

29. Admar Dragon Boat

30. Venice Canoe & Dragon Boat

*The nomination is still open for the “Most Inspirational Dragon Boat Paddlers on Instagram.” Let us know if you want to anonymously nominate a friend, coach, team manager or a teammate. Just simply send a link of their account to our inbox: eugephemisms [at] gmail [dot] com

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Dragon Boating the Dutch Way

“There’s water everywhere!”, that’s what they say of The Netherlands, because of the major bodies of water which you can find in and around this gorgeous country, these are: Rhine River, Waal River, Meuse River, Wadden Sea, IJsselmeer Lake, Markermeer Lake, Eastern Scheldt estuary and North Sea.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

In The Netherlands, there are about twelve dragon boat teams who train and compete in the annual major races; and they would compete with each other on a regular basis. In dragon boat festivals, however, there will be occasional ‘fun teams’ that would be formed just for a particular event. Almost all active clubs would have their own boats and storage areas. Amsterdam, The Hague and Alkmaar are the three main areas where the teams are concentrated.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons
Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

Let us share with you yet another compelling story of a dragon boat paddler from Vianen, Utrecht, Netherlands who turned into a competitive dragon boat racer and then a beloved coach and trainer of the Dutch youth in 2010, and at the same time of The Dutch dragons. His name is Arjo van Tienhoven.

From 2007 till 2016, he has bagged numerous medals from dragon boat racing at the Dutch National Championships—both as a paddler and as a coach. He began paddling when he was 27 years old, now 42, he has been coaching and training the young generation of paddlers in The Netherlands for the last ten years.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

Arjo van Tienhoven with International Race Official Wendy Hermelink

“I was introduced to dragon boat racing by a colleague at the company I worked for.”, Arjo said. “I was only 27 years old when I experienced my first dragon boat session.” He started training with the corporate team called: Concrete Dragons. “A bit of a catchy name because we were working for a construction company.”

He continued to paddle with Concrete Dragons for five years and from 2007 up to the present, he’s been paddling and (on the latter stage) coaching The Dutch Dragons— the most successful Dutch club team. Aside from The Dutch Dragons, Arjo has also coached the National U18 Team crew and the KLM Blue Dragons.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons
Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

“One of my proudest moments as a trainer was in 2014.”, he shared. “At the finals of the National championships, the Dutch dragons had two crews on the water. At that time I was the trainer/coach of our second team and we were up against two of strongest teams at three race distances: 200m, 500m and 2000m. We brought home two silver medals and one bronze. We even beat the strongest team (Dutch Dragons Team 1) in The Netherlands in the 500m.”

The year after, The Dutch Dragons successfully clinched three gold medals in the Standard Open 200m, 500m, and 2000m. It was my first national championship win as a trainer coach. Arjo had other international competitions where he participated as a paddler: 4th Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) 2004 in Capetown, South Africa; European Club Crew Championships 2005, Berlin, Germany; 5th CCWC 2006, in Toronto, Canada.

We had the opportunity to interview Arjo and he shared with us the present status of dragon boat as a competitive sport in The Netherlands and he gave us some amazing coaching tips, too.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

Q: How is the sport different now from what it was like then?

A: In general, the sport has not evolved that much in Holland. We don’t have a lot of teams like other European countries. With The Dutch Dragons as one of the exceptions, I personally think that some other teams have been stagnating in terms of membership and participation. Three years ago, The Dutch Dragons ventured into joining the German Dragon Boat Competition and up to now, it is still the lone Dutch team who participates in the competition. We hope that someday there will be more strong Dutch teams who can participate in international races.

From 2013 till 2015, we were promoting the transition from the 4th Liga to the 2nd Liga. Our aim is the 1st Liga in 2017. This will encourage paddlers to paddle with the strongest teams and try to learn as much as possible from each other like techniques, training methods, et cetera. It is easier to grow as a team when your ass gets kicked by the strongest teams in the world as opposed to competing in races where you almost know beforehand that you will win. It’s good to be always up for a challenge.

Liga or League in English is the term used to determine the strength level of teams: 1st Liga to 4th Liga, 1st being the strongest division. It’s a points system practiced in Germany where teams get to accumulate points from the races which they have joined. There are more rules and technicalities on this but that’s going to be a whole new article altogether.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons
Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

Q: What’s the main difference in coaching a local club and coaching a national team?

A: The difference is that in a national team, you will have the possibility to paddle with the strongest paddlers available whereas in the clubs there’s a wide range of levels. In the National Team, the paddlers are more or less similar in fitness level and body mass so it’s easier to plan a training program.

Q: In the context of being an experienced dragon boat coach, how do you define the nature and significance of the athlete–coach relationship?

A: There should be respect to both sides; it is important to have fun together, and to have the willingness to work for each other. The trainer is not the boss who tells you what to do, but he is the one who is there to help you to become a better athlete.

Q: How do you manage the recovery window for your athletes?

A: As I now work mostly with my club crew, it is not a big problem. We train together for only three times a week. For the paddlers that do training in the gym or go running between, we try to create a training schedule that fits that specific paddler.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons
Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

Q: As a dedicated and a passionate coach, do you envision your athletes to outgrow/surpass the knowledge and skills that you have imparted to them?

A: The best athlete is the athlete who knows what he wants—one who tries to become the best paddler possible. For me it is the greatest fun to work with such athletes, because they also encourage me to become a better trainer and coach. As a coach, I don’t believe I know everything that has to be known about training and coaching; I work with more specialised trainers regarding to power training, video-analyses and so on. If the needs of my paddlers exceed what I can give them, I encourage them to find what they need with more specialized trainers.

Q: Is this a measure of your satisfaction?

A: Yes, definitely. I am a trainer because I want to improve athletes. I am not a trainer for my own satisfaction. The key is to improve the athletes, not to be the one who knows best.

Q: What is your coaching tactic that is unique from other coaches?

A: I try to improve the individuals to get a stronger team. I believe that working on one on one basis with the athletes (we even introduced a day where we train together, not in a boat but this time we focused to improve all paddlers on their own specific weak spots). In a dragon boat, you have to work with 22 individuals. There is no “one size fits all” training that will benefit to all the paddlers at the same level. So I look at the abilities of each individual, and I advice them what individual training they need to improve, like: more power training, technique training on the paddling machine, or running for stamina. I work on a schedule with the paddlers to monitor the improvements.

Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons
Arjo van Tienhoven The Dutch Dragons

Q: Dragon boat is considered to be a less popular sport in Holland, how do you foresee the sport’s growth in the coming, say, 3-5 years?

A: As I look at the sport now, and the past 15 years when I started paddling, there is not much growth. When I started there were about 12 teams and the number is just about the same. You see some new teams making their presence on the water, but you also see teams disappear. It keeps itself in balance. For myself I am always looking for projects to improve the sport, like organise a start to paddle course, or training events for different club crews in The Netherlands.

Q: Outside the dragon boating world, who is the athlete that you admire most and why?

A: I don’t have a specific athlete that inspires me, but I like speed skating very much. It is quite typically a Dutch sport, but I compare it a lot with dragon boating—it’s a very technical sport. In terms of the race distances and what it does with the energy systems of the body, it has a lot of similarities with dragon boating.

Photo Credits: PuurPerspectief, Nederlandse DrakenBoot Federatie, Jeroen Kuiten
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