2017 Race Rules

The following are the race rules and regulations for the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival. All Rules and Regulations are based on (a) the International Dragon Boat Federation Members Handbook (2nd Edition, 1/1/1997) and (b) local rules and regulations that apply to the Arizona Dragon Boat festival.

All rules are to be read and understood by all teams prior to taking part in the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival.

A.    Team and Paddlers Details:

For all races, including all distances:

  1. A minimum race crew consists of sixteen (16) paddlers, one (1) drummer and one (1) steersperson.
  2. A maximum race crew consists of twenty (20) paddlers, one (1) drummer and one (1) steersperson.
  3. All Mixed Division crews must have a minimum of eight (8) female paddlers and eight (8) male paddlers.
  4. All Open Division race crews may contain any amount of male or female crew members.
  5. All Corporate, Collegiate and Masters Race crews must have a minimum of eight (8) female paddlers.
  6. Crews in Female divisions may race with male drummers or steers, but with no (0) male paddlers.
  7. The Youth Division crew consists of youth between the ages of 8-14. The race distance is 250 Meters.
  8. The High School Division crew consists of High School Students.
  9. All teams are required to have a drummer.
  10. Only crew members on a registered team roster will be allowed to paddle with that team.
  11. No paddler may paddle with more than one team in the same division.
  12. Corporate Division -No paddler in the Mixed, Open, Women or Collegiate division may paddle in the Corporate Division unless they are an employee or family member of an employee for that team’s Sponsoring Entity without approval from the Chief Race Official.
  13. Youth, High School and Collegiate Divisions – No paddler may paddle on more than one of these divisions. Races in these divisions may be run back to back or consecutively depending on the number of teams participating.
  14. Teams with paddlers on more than one roster must let the festival organizers know of possible race scheduling conflicts. Festival organizers cannot guarantee that there will be no conflicts in the schedule, especially during the afternoon finals.
  15. In case of time conflicts for your races (e.g., back to back races, concurrent races), please notify the officials at the marshaling area before your race. There will be no changing of drummers, steerspersons between continuing heats (back to back races). Please prepare and coordinate for sufficient drummers and steerspersons for all your heats.
  16. All team members must sign the event waiver/roster form prior to entering a boat (including practices).

B.    Finish Line/Timing Tent/Start Line Tent

  1. No paddler or team representative may approach the Timing Tent or the Start Line Tent. These areas of the race site are out of bounds to all race attendees. Any paddler or team representative that approaches the Timing Tent or Start Line Tent will receive a verbal warning and may be assessed a penalty.
  2. When the Start Line Official is in the process of aligning boats for the start of a race any boat heading to the start must stop prior to reaching the Start Line Tent until the race is officially under way. A boat heading to the start of a race that crosses in front of the Start Tent while another race start is in process will receive a verbal warning and may be assessed a penalty.

C.    Meetings

  1. Captains, Coaches and Steers are expected to attend all Captains Meetings held during the race weekend.

D.    Race Details:

  1. Teams will be assigned lanes by number, and must line up and stay within these lanes during the start, race and finish.
  2. A team will not be considered to finish unless all crew members who started the race are present in the boat.
  3. Standard races are 500 meters in length, unless otherwise stipulated.
  4. All teams must complete all assigned race heats to be eligible for Awards.
  5. Team Captains and Coaches must read and follow the race grid to be on time for races. In order to keep races on schedule, the dock crew will not wait for any teams. Make sure your entire crew is ready to marshal and check in at the loading area. It is your responsibility to check the race grid and be aware if races are running ahead or behind the times posted on the schedule.
  6. There will be no changing of drummers, steerspersons between continuing heats (back to back races). Please prepare and coordinate for sufficient drummers and steerspersons for all your heats.
  7. When heading to the starting line, stay close to the sea wall as other teams may be racing. Your team must stop paddling 50 meters before the lead racing boat. Restart paddling immediately after the racing boats pass.

E.    Starting:

  1. Boats must listen to the Start Line Official and follow instructions when lining up for the start.
  2. Starters instructions will include procedures for boats to ‘hold’, ‘back up’, and ‘one minute to start’ while boats are lining up for the start.
  3. Once the Race Start Official determines that the boats are lined up evenly (at his/her sole discretion) in the designated starting area a warning of “We have alignment! Paddlers are you ready?” will be called out. The drummer should raise their hand/drum stick if not ready. There is no guarantee that the starter will wait.
  4. A warning signal of “Attention” will cue all paddlers of every competing boat to prepare for the start.
  5. The Race Start Official will sound the start signal at any time after the warning signal.
  6. Drummers may not drum during Start procedures. Drummers must stop drumming if the Starter calls a False Start.
  7. False Starts will be signaled by three sound signals after the start signal.

F.    Right of Way Rules:

  1. All boats must stay in their designated lane
  2. A boat changing lanes during a heat may not pass in front of any team on the course. A penalty or disqualifications will be assessed at the time of race completion.
  3. All boats must avoid other boats
  4. Any contact between boats may result in penalty or disqualification.
  5. All boats must attempt to avoid contact at all times on the water.
  6. A boat which is not competing must keep clear of all boats which are competing.
  7. When heading to the start of the race, boats must stop to prevent wakes when any race is in progress.

G.    Finishing:

  1. The Finish line will be at a fixed point between the North and South shore. Buoys on the finish line will indicate the position of the finishing line but are not the official line.
  2. For the Finish Line Officials to stop the clock, the Dragon Boat’s bow (Dragon’s nose) must cross the finish line.
  3. All boats must finish the race in their assigned lanes with all team members including paddlers, drummers and steers in the boat.
  4. Upon finishing a race, each team must promptly return back to the launching dock without causing delay for the next heat. A penalty may be imposed to the boat causing the delay. Check for clearance, then turn towards shore in a long, gentle, under-power turn and head back to docks as quickly and safely as possible.
  5. Follow loading official’s commands to return the boat to a specific location. When returning, WAIT for boats leaving the loading area as they have the right of way. Not following the official’s commands may also result in penalties.

H.    Safety

  1. Crew members that are inebriated or under the influence of any drugs or drink will be disqualified from racing. The Organizing Committee has the sole discretion to deny any racer from entering a boat who they feel has been drinking or using banned substances.
  2. All Life Vests must be fully zipped up and properly buckled from the time the paddler enters the marshalling area to when the paddler leaves it. These life jackets MUST be kept on until all team members have returned to the marshalling area after their race heat. All life jackets must be Coast Guard and DOT approved. Inflatable Life Vests will not be permitted. All clothing must be worn under PFDs for easy visual confirmation of proper PFD usage.
  3. All AZDBA life jackets and paddles must be returned and must not leave the marshaling area after each race. Penalties will be applied to offending parties in the form of added seconds to their race time.

I.    Disqualifications and Penalties

  1. Any Team determined to have broken a rule, as defined in these Rules and Regulations, or any team not complying with safety protocols may receive a time penalty or disqualification, depending on the seriousness of incident.
  2. Mixed Division Teams with less than 8 female or 8 male paddlers in a Race crew will be assessed a penalty of 30 seconds.
  3. Corporate, Collegiate and Masters Teams with less than 8 female paddlers in a Race crew will be assessed a penalty of 30 seconds.
  4. Any alteration or damage to festival equipment may result in a penalty to be assessed by race officials.
  5. Any switching positions or teams, standing, rocking or leaving the boat once the boat has left the dock may result in a penalty.
  6. Discipline – The Chief Race Official shall be responsible for implementing the Disciplinary Code and additionally may penalize any crew or competitor who behaves improperly or shows contempt by bad conduct or speech towards the Race Officials or any other persons, including on-lookers.
  7. All roster changes on the day of the event must be approved by the Festival Team Coordinator.
  8. Disqualified teams will not be allowed to compete for awards in that set of races.
  9. Signaling devices including radio communications or any other electronic items and/or any noisemaking devices or GPS devices are prohibited unless approved by the Chief Race Official.
  10. A team must not cross in front of the Start Tent while the Starter is aligning or starting the boats. If a race start is in process the approaching team must stop and hold their boat before reaching the start tent until the race is underway.

J.    Appeals:

  1. Appeals must be made by the team Captain or Manager only.
  2. All protests must be made in writing to the Volunteer Tent within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the race heat in which the penalty was assessed.
  3. The Chief Race Official will investigate the written appeal and discuss appeal with other Race officials. The Chief Race Official will make the final ruling.
  4. The ruling of the Chief Race Official is final and without appeal.


Adjustments to race course, times, race schedule and cancellation of race heats may occur due to a number of circumstances including weather, daylight, water conditions, safety, etc.  These adjustments are a part of the event and are at the sole discretion of the Race Officials and are final, without appeal and without refund.