TEAMWORK: What does it really mean to Dragon Boaters?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, teamwork is defined as “the activity of working well together as a team.” The definition may sound as simple as it may seem, but what does it ‘really’ mean in the context of dragon boating?

We’ve asked a good mix of world and regional level paddlers and coaches of different age and racing classes, ranging from Premier (open age group), Senior A (40+), and U24 (Under 24’s) to define Teamwork in their own words.

Albeit unintentionally, we have given them a hard task of providing us with just one word or up to one sentence response only; and based on their actual experiences and involvement in the team sport of dragon boat, they shared their personal and honest-to-goodness definition.

Quite astonishingly, we have (re)discovered such beautiful and inspiring meanings to it. Let’s take inspiration from these athletes and coaches, on how they perceive, employ, utilise and value the importance of this rather not-so-simple compound word.

Alexandre Cheng

“Teamwork is collaboration between individuals whose result is greater than what the individuals can accomplish individually. Teamwork is beautiful.” – Alexandre Cheng, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Nutcharat Ying

“In my experience, the meaning of team work means we trust in ourselves, we trust in our team and we believe we can do it.” – Nutcharat Ying, Thailand Dragon Boat Team

Allan Nguyen

“Teamwork is sacrificing and compromising for others to achieve a common goal.” – Allan Nguyen, USA National Team

Manuel Maya

“It’s hard for me to define it in just one word. Teamwork is unity, harmony, trust in your own ability and the individual abilities of each team member. Hindi mananalo ang team kung wala tiwala sa sarili at sa teammates. Kahit ang pinakamahinang member ng team napakahalaga nila.” (The team can never win if members don’t have trust on themselves and their teammates. Even the weakest member of the team is very important.) – Manuel Maya, Philippine Dragon Boat Team/Coach

Shanice Ng

“One word: Camaraderie.” – Shanice Ng, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Francis Lucas Dragon Boat

“Teamwork to me is putting yourself second and putting your teammates first. To trust them to achieve a common goal.” – Francis Lucas, Canadian National Team

Dennis Wright

Teamwork in the dragon boat sense is: The cooperation of all boating members to dissolve individual egos in order to become a single body that is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Dennis Wright, Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team

Curtis Guinn

“To me, teamwork is the whole group coming together for the same goal. But it’s not just the people you see out front; it’s all of the people playing different parts behind the scenes that aren’t noticed right away. It’s in knowing that in your heart that you may not be where the team needs you to be and be willing to step back for someone else but still being ready to go when the group needs you. It’s everyone back home pushing this core group to be better everyday even if they aren’t a part of it themselves.” – Curtis Guinn, USA National Team

Rhowie Enriquez

“Teamwork is working together in any activity for the benefit and progress of the team.” – Rhowie Enriquez, Philippine Dragon Boat Team

 Jonathan Navarro

“I define teamwork as the complete and total summation of actions and decisions made by the members of a team–collectively and individually that contribute towards achieving a specific goal.” – Jonathan Navarro, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Moonkasem Pranchalee Dragon Boat

“My own personal definition of teamwork means that the team which comes from love and harmony, while helping each other and do the things that you get assigned.” Moonkasem Pranchalee, Thailand Dragon Boat Team

Loh Zhiying

“Teamwork = commitment + intensive training + a common goal (shared among the team).” Loh Zhiying, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Melanie Marquez Dragon Boat

“Teamwork is when everyone works together, but it starts when everyone makes a personal commitment towards the team’s goal.” – Melanie Marquez, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Ben Dal Broi

“My experience of teamwork in Dragon Boats? Simple… Just shut up and do what the sweep tells you.” Ben Dal Broi – Australian Dragon Boat Team

Amihan Zapanta Arroyo Dragon Boat

“Teamwork for me, especially as a dragon boater, would have to be about the unification of a people for a common goal. And you don’t see that illustrated more purely than in dragon boat, because in order to cross the finish line you truly need each and every person.” – Amihan Zapanta Arroyo, USA National Team

Harland Baraquero

“Teamwork is the navigator and it’s the beauty of dragon boat.” Harland Baraquero, Former Philippine Dragon Boat Team/Coach

Raymond Kiang

“Being in a team sport, the most essential factor is to have everyone steered towards the same goal–goals which include a spectrum of macro to micro goals. Definitely there will be differences in opinion and it is important to have everyone on the same page. Teamwork is also self accountability to the team where you try your best to contribute to the bigger picture. In an individual sport, you can afford to plan your own schedule or make up for training yourself but this is not possible in a team sport.” – Raymond Kiang, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Damaris Claudio Dragon Boat

“Teamwork is when all team members collaborate giving the best of their performance to achieve the goal and together celebrate the work done.” – Damaris Claudio, Puerto Rico Dragon Boat Team

Riza Canonoy

“Unity and teamwork 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

Tek Li

“Teamwork is being vulnerable together, trusting one another. Trusting one another to enhance your strengths and to support your weaknesses. Teamwork is being humble if you think you know it already. Teamwork is being courageous to ask questions if you don’t know it.” – Tek Li, USA National Team


In any dragon boat team, there are several factors that need to be considered and developed to ensure the team’s success, some of the key ones are: the attitude of members when it comes to cooperation; the amount (and sincerity) of commitment; learning levels and learning skills of members, the interpersonal relationship within the team, and, of course, leadership.

While you consider these facets and take tips and lessons from our featured athletes, even though each of us may have our own brilliant definition of what teamwork means, the right formula for a successful teamwork can only be defined and be understood by your team and your team alone.

Photo Credits: Respondents’ own, Ed Nguyen Photography, Michael Daniel Photography, JhanPhilipCo Photography, T & M Photography, Under Armour


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Water to Fire – Ode to Dragon Boat

Water to Fire - Ode to Dragon Boat
Twelve, twenty-two crew – paddle as one,
Carbon fibre or wood–their magic wands;
The drummer starts the beat,
The helm completes the feat;
All twelve, all twenty two–move like one,
Amidst rain, wind or sun.

Together they create poetry,
Lines of resolve and diligence
Stanzas of drills and practices,
Verses of pain and patience,
Perseverance in rhythmic metres,
To a song of dexterity.

Steady focus on starts.
Breathe hard, breathe in silence.

Are you ready?
Attention.
GO!

Kick-start solid strokes of thirty, even forty.
Break apart, destruct fiercely,
Propel the boat. Push!

Two hundred fifty metres or five hundred premier,
Race distance does matter.
With primed muscles for endurance,
Aggression’s aflame,
One and same in goal, in persistence,
Oh, the paddlers, fearless and fierce.

Slice, shave the waters,
Discern the rhyme, feel the sliver,
Progress in synchrony;
Longer reach—be one with water,
Stronger, deeper catch,
Hard and quick to clinch the match.

Breathe properly throughout the course,
Consume the wind, accept its force;
Feel the boat’s glide, retain stability,
In middle of lane, it must remain;
Thru merged force, render the strategy,
Relive the trainings and months of mastery.

Paddle in synchrony, let the dragons fly;
With outstretched hands, make them breathe fire;
Obey its commands, hear them cry—
The dragon boats morph like flames in the sky.

Fire up the blades, burn the waters—
Burn the lakes, bays and rivers;
Whilst near to finish, the stroke rate increases,
Scream! Battle on a millisecond gap;
Claim the victory, return ashore safely,
Prepare to rest, another heat to progress.

‘Tis the journey of brave paddlers,
Soaked in water, cloaked with fire;
Such poetry of synergy,
Teamwork and bravery.

Interview Series: Coach Bryan Kieu (Men’s National Team)

This Q&A was with Coach Bryan Kieu, National Coach – Dragon Boat Team Singapore (Men’s Team)

Coach Bryan started paddling at an early age. He was only seventeen years old then when he first paddled the waters of Singapore. The year was 1997 when he first competed at an inter-school dragon boat race where he represented Hwa Chong Institution.

This very passionate Dragon Boat Coach loves to collect Transformers collectible figures and he loves joining Marathons, too.


Coach Bryan Kieu

COACH PROFILE

NAME:Bryan Kieu
BIRTHPLACE: Johor Bahru, Malaysia
AGE: 34yo
HEIGHT: 165cm
WEIGHT: 68kg

COACHING HIGHLIGHTS

Dragon Boat Team Singapore National Coach 2011 – Present

COACHING ACCOLADES

National Coaching Accreditation Programme (NCAP) Level 2
Asian Dragon Boat Championships (ADBC) 2012 – 3 Bronze Medals
Asian Dragon Boat Championships 2014 – Grand Finalist
SEA Games 2011 – Grand Finalist
SEA Games 2013 – Grand Finalist


Q: How long have you been the National Coach for the Men’s Dragon Boat Team Singapore? Do you like the life of a coach? For that matter, is it easy or tough for you?

A: I have been coaching the Men’s Team since 2011. I can say that I like the life of a coach but the main reason behind it is really because of the passion–the dream to raise the Singapore flag high in the podium finish. That is the main reason why I want to be a Coach. Back then, I could stay on to be an athlete but the community at that time needed a coach to look after the N-Team so I stepped up. In other words, I just filled the gap. I wouldn’t say that I was the best person back then but I felt that there’s a need to impart the lessons learned from the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010 and could be carried forward from there and not start from zero again. At that time, I thought that there is a great need for knowledge transfer to carry on the legacy. The life of a coach is tough; but I guess the reason why I like the life of a Coach is mainly because I find meaning in it.

Q: How important is the motivational climate to you in leading the National team?

A: I think a lot comes from within me–I want to do it–I should want to do it. Other factors which constitute a good motivational climate are your resources, whether from the association or from the sports council; and, of course, your paddlers. You have to have enough resources for the team; that includes having enough paddlers, to be able to achieve the high performance you’re aiming.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE.

Photo Credit: dbteamsg.sg

Paddles Down 2014, Paddles Up 2015!

The Dragon Boat 2014 season may have officially ended to most of the teams around the world. Now, it is time to prepare for the forthcoming season and it looks like 2015 promises to be a brighter year for the sport with the ‘major leagues’ coming up such as the 12th World Nations Championships to be held in Welland, Canada, 19th August 2015 and the South East Asian Games (SEA Games 2015) in Singapore City, Singapore, 6th June 2015.

Meanwhile, while we are now taking our much deserved rest from all the races we’ve taken part of (not to mention the many team activities organised) this year; let us relive those gloriously intense moments from the past races. Watch those videos you’ve taken from the races; and remember all the happy, funny and tear jerking moments of 2014.

For teams who’ve joined the major and the toughest races in your country or region, this year may be one of the best years for you and your team in dragon boating; so IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE!  This year must be particularly very special, too, for teams who have competed in the 9th Club Crew World Champs in Ravenna, Italy. Salute to all CCWC 2014 Crew!

As announced by the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), we have welcomed seven new members in the federation, they are: Argentina, Greece, Israel, Ivory Coast, Malta, Panama and Qatar. We are now 84 members strong in the IDBF and let us continue to spread the word about our wonderful sport, until we become at par with the other more popular sports.

Dragon boat is a very colourful and exciting sport and we must believe that we will become BIGGER. We must still continue to work hard for it though.

Let us be thankful for all the efforts of the IDBF and all the dragon boat associations and federations worldwide; and for all the efforts, big or small, by paddlers, teams, event organisers and suppliers in the dragon boating sphere. Paddles Up to all the Dragon Boat team coaches, advisers, leaders, officers and race managers for everything you’ve accomplished this year.

While we are profoundly pleased for everything glorious that has happened to our teams this year, let us give a special shoutout to all our team sponsors, supporters and partners! They are indeed our co-agents in making this sport grow and prosper. From Restaurants, Bars, Banks, Sports Drinks, Sunblock Lotions, Sunnies, Caps, Compression & Dri-fit Apparels, et cetera, whether they are a private business entity or a government agency, THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU, OUR DRAGON BOAT SPONSORS AND PARTNERS!

Here are some of the leading brands we’ve found online which featured the dragon boat sport on their websites. Send us a screenshot of the others so that we can feature and thank them here as well for their massive contribution to us–the big family of dragon boaters. Send us the link of their website or email screenshots to: eugephemisms at gmail dot com

Dragon Boat Screenshot - Abbott

Dragon Boat Screenshot - AXA Website

Dragon Boat Screenshot - DBS Website

Dragon Boat Screenshot - Discovery Website

Dragon Boat Screenshot - Google Website

Dragon Boat Screenshot - Malaysia Airlines Website

To all dragon boaters who have trained hard and competed at any race or regatta this year, whether you have garnered some podium ranks or not, we salute you! To those of you who have paddled and competed for the first time, welcome to the dragon boat world; and, yes, we can already see your dragon scales starting to manifest. Keep on paddling and loving the sport. Let us hope that there will be more non-paddlers who will be inspired to step forward to join and try out the sport.

Thank you 2014, Welcome 2015!

Web screenshots: Abbott, AXA, DBS, Discovery, Google, Malaysia Airlines

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22 Lessons and Things You Learned from Dragon Boat

Dragon Boat

1. The first and the most essential lesson you have learned from dragon boat is synchronicity. Paddling in perfect synchrony will give your team the edge against your competitor. #fact

2. You learned that whether you win or lose in the race, the most important thing is that your team is intact; and that everyone is safe and happy to be racing together. You also learned #humility. You then #moveon and get ready for the next race lined up.

3. You have learned to always remain focused in the boat, to block the pain, breathe properly, and keep up with the stroke rate of your pacers or what you have practiced as a team for a specific race distance. #teamworkworks

4. The knowledge and skills that your Coach has imparted to you can be easily learned if you learn it by heart. The quick (and quality) development of the paddlers/crew may be one of your Coach’s measures of satisfaction. Learn the technique quickly but forget it slowly (or forget it never).

5. Apart from the physical skills you’ve learned from your President/Team Captain, you also learned that the unconditional trust and respect you have on their leadership is reflective of your commitment to the ‘team’. You appreciate their inspiring words before, during and after the races.

6. While dragon boat is a tough sport to learn and to be at, you have learned that apart from the camaraderie it fosters, there is so much to smile and laugh about (at trainings or in races). Yes, dragon boaters are tough yet fun-loving athletes, too.

7. While in your business attire, you carry a sports bag filled with a seat pad, board shorts, a team jersey, compression shorts, changing clothes, bananas, power bars, recovery drinks and other DB stuff. #innerdragon

8. When you see a boat (any boat in fact) you associate it with a dragon boat. You imagine a scenario of you paddling in it. That’s right: ‘paddling’, not rowing.

9. When you see someone carrying a paddle, you feel happy. It’s like you’ve seen a brother or a sister. (In your mind you say, ‘Keep it up, we’re in the best sport ever!’)

10. In a massage session, you will kindly instruct the masseur/masseuse to go gentle on your ass. You mean your fresh blister from training or race.

11. After each heat (and you’re still panting), it is a joy for you to cheer and shake hands with other teams in the embarkation area. That’s real sportsmanship!

12. Majority of the content in your laundry basket are clothes made with Dri-Fit fabric. You have several batches of those week after week after week.

13. Flip-flops are considered to be ‘very formal’ footwear in the ‘dragon boat culture’.

14. You know a fellow paddler when the shoulders and the upper limbs are suntanned. When naked, there’s a visible tan line in the shape of a jersey or a sports bra for ladies. Yeah, the dragon boater’s legs are two-toned too.

15. After paddling, all your stresses are gone (or at least eased up). On the contrary, if you can not paddle because you have classes or you need to work or travel, you are stressed.

16. Your weekends are spent in the water. You’d like to have more sleep but you need to show up on time for practice. It taught you #discipline.

17. You have saved on gym membership as the land trainings alone already make you too shattered. If you have a gym membership, you might have not visited for a long time or you’re not utilising the monthly fee being charged on your credit card.

18. You instantly know what to do when you hear the command: ‘Brace the boat!’ or ‘Brace! Brace! Brace!’

19. You know that the command ‘Hold water!’ means that you do not actually hold the water with your hands. You hold your paddle perpendicular to the water to stop the glide of the boat.

20. In your email ending or personal email signature, you would use ‘Paddles Up!’ instead of ‘All the best!’ or ‘Yours faithfully’. It actually means to signal the paddlers to get ready to paddle or to assume the catch position.

21. Carb-loading. You have learned that it is important to start carbohydrate loading, 3 or 4 days before and in the morning the actual race. Experts say, “it’s good to have a small portion of carbs for about 3 to 4 hours before the race.”

22. It is normal to feel a little bit nervous before the race (not scared, because there is nothing to be scared about). That nervous feeling has taught you how to be brave. You know that it goes away right after your first heat. #TrueStory

Dragon Boat

These are only 22 of the things and lessons you have learned as a dragon boater; surely, you have a tale or two to tell about your own paddling life. We chose to list down 22 as this number significantly represents the Standard Racing Boat or DB22, which is composed of a minimum of eighteen and a maximum of twenty paddlers, one steersperson and one drummer.

Dragon Boat

Another integral lesson that dragon boat as a competitive pursuit or as a recreational hobby¹ has taught the crew (paddlers, drummers, steerspersons), is to not resort into any threat of violence or actual physical violence² at any period of a race or a regatta. Dragon boaters know that this can be grounds for disqualification of a crew or everyone involved.

Dragon Boat

Finally, everything you need to know about dragon boat: its history, bye-laws, competition regulations, rules of racing, calendar of international races, et cetera, can be found here: http://www.idbf.org/.

Notes
¹ “Technical Definitions,” IDBF Bye-Laws Edition 6 (2012): p6
² “IDBF Disciplinary Code,” Rules & Regulations (2014): p3

Photos: Kelvin Pao
Race & Venue: Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival, Boracay Island, Philippines