Guest Posting | Introducing Gushou, The Future of Dragon Boat Organization

Gushou is an online sport management platform designed for dragon boat. It is a hub, tool, and resource for all segments of the global dragon boat community. Gushou (pronounced “Gu-shoe”) means drummer in Chinese. The drummer is the pulse of any dragon boat team and we want to be the pulse of the dragon boat community.

Gushou the Dragon

We have been paddlers, team captains, coaches, and event organizers. With over 40 years of combined experience in dragon boat and other paddling sports between the two of us, we have both experienced and observed specific challenges that face athletes and organizers in the dragon boat community. We also run Sunnyside Paddling Club – with over 3000 paddlers, it is the largest in North America. Gushou was built to address the specific challenges of team captains, organizers, and paddlers – created by paddlers for paddlers. We’re looking to make an amazing sport more accessible to everyone.

The Founders

Blake Harra

Blake Harra

Chrissy Wessman

Chrissy Wessman

On Gushou, Team Captains can manage their roster, streamline communication in one place, and recruit new paddlers more efficiently. Paddlers can find teams who are recruiting in their area and stay up to date on the latest team communication, and practice and race schedules. Event/Club Organizers can promote themselves and will soon will be able to manage registration and scheduling, easily communicate with all stakeholders, track charitable giving, and increase revenue through wider community recognition. Another feature to be added is the vendor marketplace. Because dragon boat isn’t as widely known as some of the other mainstream sports, you can’t just go anywhere to get gear. Paddlers will be able to connect with vendors to make Gushou a true one-stop-shop for all things dragon boat.

We’re currently developing the next phase and we are always rolling out new and better features based on user feedback. We want to create the ultimate user experience that will be the future of dragon boat organization for the global community.

By Chrissy Wessman and Blake Hara


Indiegogo Campaign (running until August 7 11:59 PM): With over 100 events, 150 teams, and thousands of paddlers already registered on the platform, Gushou is currently stepping into the next phase of the launch strategy. They are running a crowdfunding campaign to help them get to the next development level. They are creating the ultimate user experience for all things dragon boat. Gushou will give the ability to track race results in real time and event history in addition to the continuously evolving team organization features.

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: Positive Reinforcement – A Main Coaching Tool

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Dennis Wright, National Athlete – Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright


NAME: Dennis Wright
BIRTHPLACE: Nhulunbuy, Australia
AGE: 33yo
POSITION: Paddler; Coach (South Australia State Coach – Premier Division)
HEIGHT: 178cm
WEIGHT: 85kg
STATUS: Married

AusDBF National Championships 2016, 2 Bronzes – South Australia Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m; 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2016, Silver – Premier Open, Small Boat – Club Division, 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2016, Silver – Premier Mixed, Small Boat – Club Division, 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, Bronze – South Australia Premier Mixed, Standard Boat, 500m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, 2 Silvers – South Australia Premier Mixed, Small Boat, 500m; 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, Bronze – South Australia Premier Women (Coach), Small Boat, 500m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, 2 Golds – Premier Mixed Small Boat – Club Division, 500m; 200m
AusDBF National Championships 2015, 1 Gold; 1 Silver – Premier Open Small Boat – Club Division, 200m; 500m
AusDBF National Championships 2013, 1 Silver; 1 Bronze – Premier Mixed Small Boat – Club Division, 500m; 200m

It was during that warm Australian summer of 2008 when this bass-playing World Athlete, Dennis Wright, started in the realm of dragon boat. Grew up in Nhulunbuy, a small mining town in Australia’s Northern Territory, he shared with us his humble beginnings as a paddler-turned-National Athlete and his experiences as South Australia’s (SA) Premiere Class state coach. “I started paddling with Water Warriors, a local club in the South Australia state. I was introduced by family who had retired from the sport the year previously, after many years in paddling in SA.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

When asked if he has displayed his bass skills in front of his teammates, he responded: “I still play bass whenever I can in between paddling, work, and life commitments. Sad to say that I’ve not yet been able to do so with my paddling teammates as yet, but there is still hopefully plenty of paddling years left for me, so who knows?”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Started as a hobby for Dennis, he then began to take his paddling stint more seriously in 2010 when the selection process has changed in qualifying for the Auroras, the Australian National Dragon Boat Team. “Back then, the winning State Team in the AusDBF Nationals competition becomes the representative Australian team.”, he recalls. “The change has opened opportunities for paddlers around the country to represent Australia in international races.”

“Since SA is a small density state with a large population spread, it typically meant that SA could not compete in a standard boat against the larger state teams. But since the selection process was introduced, SA has fielded a large number of Australian Auroras paddlers over the years, and I have been fortunate enough to be one amongst them.”, Dennis added.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Q: How did the Auroras fair at the recently held Asian Dragon Boat Championships? Was it the projected results?

A: I think the Auroras represented very well at the Asian Champs. It’s always difficult to project results in such a competition, but improvement is always sought after.

Q: It was a success, then?

A: The results helped define the success. It was a little difficult to back-up so quickly from the IDBF World Championships campaign in Canada, so it was very heartening to see the Auroras improve their results from last Asia Champs campaign

Q: In three words, can you describe to us what ‘Sportsmanship’ means to you?

A: Honour. Brotherhood. Honesty.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Q: What is the most rewarding thing of being a coach?

A: The most rewarding thing for me is being a part of the improvement of my paddlers. Seeing the beginners advance to intermediate and from intermediate they advance to skilled and beyond. The experience of seeing doubt being expunged is proof positive of skill advancement.

Q: How important is the coach’s role in keeping the supportive and respectful climate in the team?

A: Paramount. The head coach (and division coaches too) are the prime point for setting the examples and structures by which the paddling team will be expected to follow. I do not believe it is possible for coaches neglectful of this reality to create supportive and respectful teams.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Dennis Wright

Q: Can you give us some tips on how to maintain unity and respect within the team?

A: Positive reinforcement is my main coaching tool. This stems from the idea that once a person believes they can perform better, they will psychologically strive to perform in accordance with that belief. 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.

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

A: This is always a difficult one. I’m probably going to go with Steve Waugh. From watching him play I always felt that he had good respect for the sport and the competitors alike. Sport is a microcosm of life in many ways, and as such I am still always motivated by love.

Photos: Michael Daniel Photography (Australian Auroras Squad); Instant Photos Publications Australia (Black Dragons DBC); Papillon Marcel; Audio Reign
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Dragon Boat World Athlete: From Neophyte to World Champion

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Corinne Hanlon, National Athlete – Canadian National Dragon Boat Team.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon


NAME: Corinne Hanlon
BIRTHPLACE: Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
AGE: 26yo
HEIGHT: 173cm
WEIGHT: 66kg
STATUS: In a relationship

IDBF Club Crew World Championships 2010, 3 Bronzes  – U23 Mixed, 200m, 500m, 1000m
IDBF World Dragonboat Racing Championship 2011, 4 Golds – U23 Women’s, 200m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m
IDBF Club Crew World Championships 2012, 3 Silvers – U24 Mixed, 200m, 500m, 2000m
IDBF World Dragonboat Racing Championship 2015, 8 Golds – Mixed, U24 Women’s Mixed, 200m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m

Our featured Dragon Boat World Athlete, Corinne Hanlon, is a graduate of University of Waterloo with a Masters Degree in Geochemistry. This World Champion loves indie music and board games, especially Dominion. She has a twin sister, “a non-dragon boater though”, she said. Corinne now paddles with the Outer Harbour Warriors. She describes them as a group of extremely hard working folks who love to paddle.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon


The very first time Corinne experienced dragon boating was in 2009. It was during the United Way Charity Regatta, at a camp where she used to work. She was never into sports back then but when school started, and because of that first dragon boat experience, she joined the University of Waterloo Dragon Boat Club (UWDBC).

“I started attending more practices.”, she recalled. “After the first summer racing with UWDBC, I knew this was the team I wanted to be on for the rest of my university days. They showed me what being part of a team is really like, and that’s what really pushed me to become the athlete that I am today.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon
Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon


Corinne’s first international exposure was in 2010. She paddled with the Pickering Dragon Boat Club (PDBC) U24 in Macau, China for the Club Crew World Championships (CCWC). The following year, she tried out for Canadian National Team U24 where she successfully earned a spot in the Women’s Team.

“I followed a training schedule that our coach gave me.”, she said. “I tried to watch my diet as best as I could (being the noob I was), particularly during the months leading up to the competition. Most importantly, I learned that I love to compete. I wanted to win, and I was willing to put in the work to win.”

When asked on her decision to join the National Team: “It was a great learning experience and I got the chance to see a national team try-out process from beginning to end. I got to work with some great coaches, and I got to see what it’s like to paddle in a really fast boat, and I loved it.”

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon
Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

A Magnanimous Act

In 2012, the UWDBC received a very generous donation from Dragon Boat Canada, the official governing body for the sport of Dragon Boat in Canada. It was a dragon boat and a storage container. It came just in time for their preparation for CCWC in Hong Kong.

“It was an amazing development. Before that season we had to travel to Toronto on weekends to train; but when we had our own boat, we could get out on the water any day of the week, at any time of day, and boy did we take advantage! That summer was filled with late night paddle practices, early morning drylands, and team bonding days.”, Corinne reminisced.

While she’s excited to bring her paddling career to the next stage, let’s discover how she prepares for races, her healthy perspective of the sport and her take on what would boost more interest in the sport.

Q: As a National Athlete who had previously competed in Club Crew World Championships (CCWC) in Macau and Hong Kong, in terms of preparation, what is the main difference between representing a club as opposed to representing your country?

A: The selection process is a bit different. When you are representing your club, your club must qualify the previous year at Nationals. When you are representing your country, you must try out for the team as an individual.

Q: You mentioned that you started to compete internationally from 2010; if any, how did it change your perspective on the ‘competitiveness’ of this sport?

A: Competing locally, you really only see the teams that are in the vicinity, although occasionally some teams travel in from Montreal, Vancouver, or the US. I don’t think I realized the true expanse of the dragon boat community until I competed internationally. It was (and always is) really cool to see the huge number of teams from around the world come together to compete.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon
Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

Q: Dragon Boat brings people and even nations together, aside from this, what are the other benefits?

A: It sounds cheesy, but it’s a great way to stay fit and have fun. Your teammates will be your friends for life, and you will never work as hard in the gym or on the water as when your team is there, counting on you and supporting you at the same time.

Q: Do you sometimes play a mental video of a race against your toughest competition?

A: I don’t like visualizing really tough competition, because doing so usually causes me to panic and not paddle well. I try to visualize a race which I will be happy with myself for racing, and that allows me to focus, stay in control, and give it my all.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

Q: From 2009 up to the present, you must have trained with several coaches already, what is the most common impact/lesson from among your coaches which you’d remember for the longest time?  Can you share it with us and how did it affect you as a person?

A: Take care of yourself and paddle smart. Being competitive athletes, it’s easy to get caught up in the training. Make sure to drink lots of water, sleep at least 8 hours a night, and take care of injuries. Your team needs you to be strong AND healthy.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Corinne Hanlon

Q: In 2012, Dragon Boat Canada has donated a boat to your team. This was a very generous move by the Association; moreso, a great way to promote the sport. What is your personal idea of boosting our sport to be at par with the more popular ones?

A: Yes, it was extremely generous! Having access to a boat streamlined the formation of the Waterloo Paddling Club, and since then it has expanded to include teams of UWaterloo Alumni, Breast Cancer Survivors, and high school students in the Waterloo Region. In my opinion, continued outreach will help in boosting interest in the sport.

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

A: Definitely Camille Leblanc-Bazinet. Aside from her impressive weightlifting, her determination, focus, and light-heartedness are all inspiring attributes.

Photos: George Wang, Alexandra Hennig, Ricky Tjandra, Colleen Leung, Fancy Lai, Vincent Chu, Anthony Gallaccio, Ed Nguyen

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Dragon Boat World Athlete: Pursuing A World Championship Dream – How Important is Social Support for Athletes?

This Q&A was with Dragon Boat World Athlete, Tek Li, National Athlete – Team USA.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li


NAME: Terence Li
BIRTHPLACE: San Francisco, California, USA
AGE: 25yo
PADDLING SIDE: Both, but prefer Right side
HEIGHT: 175cm
WEIGHT: 72kg
STATUS: Never married

IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships – SilverU23, 2011, Tampa
IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships – SilverU24, 2015, Welland

Dragon Boat World Athlete, Tek Li, is the eldest of three. His parents both immigrated to the United States from southern China. He is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. “I’m kind of a neat freak except when work gets busy”, he shared with us.

Tek started to paddle when he was in his second year of high school in 2005. Standing tall at 5’2” (157cm) and weighing 110lbs (50kg), he joined the Mission High School Dragon Boat Team. Since that time, he’s been paddling and likewise honing his leadership and technical skills in the sport. While he progressed as an experienced paddler he also gained the respect of his peers.

Already on his second year as Membership Director at California Dragon Boat Association (CDBA), a role which requires a substantial amount of time and dedication, he’s become more confident and accomplished in carrying out the task. The CDBA has over 1,000 members and is under the Pacific Dragon Boat Association of the West Coast (PDBA USA).

As a seasoned paddler, he was able to help reboot Stanford University’s Dragon Boat Team and then he eventually landed himself a place on his current team, the San Francisco Dragon Warriors. To date, it’s been 11 fun years of dragon boating for him.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: Hi Tek, first of all, thank you for providing us with this interview. It’s really a pleasure to be interviewing you. How did you feel at first, when we approached you for this feature?

A: Thanks for the opportunity. I was really surprised that you asked me, I feel like a celebrity. I Just shope that what I’ll share can be inspiring, thought-provoking, or just simply entertaining for your readers.

Q: We want to know how does it ‘really’ feel like to be paddling for one’s country?

A: To me, representing the country is a big deal. Honestly, it’s really scary because I never feel like I’m good enough. When I’m out there during the competition, I suppress that voice of doubt, keeping calm nerves and trying to perform my best. There’s just a lot of pressure.

Q: When your team lands a World Championships podium finish and you’re standing there, elated and victorious with your team mates, what goes on in your head?

A: It’s really a tearjerking moment, to see the training that we’ve put in turn into something. The fact that dragon boating is a team sport makes it all the more special. I am just one piece of the puzzle, but together we did it. When I’m up there, I’m grateful for my teammates for all the team efforts.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: Let us move along to something less emotional. 🙂 We understand that trainings, especially in preparation for Worlds, take months and months to prepare and are extremely physically demanding, how do you condition yourself to achieving that long-range goal?

A: It takes a huge amount of dedication, work, and determination to get to and maintain an elite level of fitness. In order to condition myself, I really need someone else to push me. I stay active and train with a home team to get pushed. As disciplined as I want to believe that I am, having a coach and teammates pushing alongside me get me the best results. In addition to being physically fit, there’s a huge mental aspect to conditioning, too. I look for coaches and teammates who would (within reason) challenge me to my limit, to get me to want to fail, and to transcend that mental barrier.

Q: In your USA National Team journey, was there a time where you failed to make it to an international race that you really wanted to be a part of?

A: I wish I could have participated in the IDBF World Dragon Boat Championships 2013 in Hungary. I had travel conflicts and the education program I was in occupied a significant amount of time. Hence, I have not dedicated enough time for training.

Q: How did you cope with the disappointment?

A: I was disappointed. I knew that I didn’t have enough time so I reassessed the amount of time I had. There wasn’t a realistic way for me to happily and sanely complete my education program and train to the elite level. I just told myself that someone equally capable and strong will hopefully earn that spot.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: Once the training and preparation starts, how do you manage your time between trainings and your social life? Do you still have one? 🙂

A: Eh. Yes and no. Once training starts, I can’t go out partying every weekend. I spend a lot more time on the water and in the gym instead of out and about. Balance is important though. I’ve been able to coincide rest days with hanging out with friends. I’ve also tried to build in more time to spend with my parents. Also, practices with Dragon Warriors… that’s my social life!

Q: In your opinion, how important is social support for an athlete? For that matter, who are your best supporters?

A: Social support is critical for an athlete. I want people to be proud of me and to be proud of the effort I put forth. I compete because I enjoy training hard, but I wouldn’t be able to get to the world stage if not for my family who instilled the work ethic in me. I would not have made it if my coaches and teammates were not there to push me. My best supporters are my mentors and friends. They share my journey and my ambitions louder and farther than I would ever be able to.

Dragon Boat World Athlete Tek Li

Q: At what point can you say that you have reached everything in dragon boating?

A: Once dragon boating is in the Olympics and I can participate in it, I would have reached everything in dragon boating.

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

A: I really admire Eric Guerrero, a freestyle wrestler. I met him when I went to an Oklahoma State University wrestling camp during the same year that I joined dragon boat. He is a hard worker, disciplined, humble, and approachable. He reached an elite level, but then also gave back to the community as a coach.

Photos by Scott M, Debbie S, Shoulong L, Anthony Gallaccio
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