On a summer evening in Chatham, looking out onto the Thames River, you might spot two 12-metre-long dragon boats with paddlers hard at work preparing for the race season and enjoying team comradery.
For over 20 years, the Raging Dragons of Chatham-Kent (RDoCK) boat team - also known as the Dragons- have been made up of paddlers ranging in age from 18 to 65. The Dragons started as a canoe club with mostly marathon paddles. When we first discovered dragon boat racing, our practice boat was a 10-metre aluminum "Tin Tubs". Today, we slice through the water with two authentic dragon boats. For the last several years, the Dragons have partnered with the L'école secondaire catholique de Pain Court to host a junior team as well. As a team, we run the Sydenham challenge Dragon Boat Festival each year in Wallaceburg, volunteer at WAMBO, and support community initiatives such as standing guard at the Cenotaph on the celebration of 125 years.
Anyone can become a Dragon paddler. Beginners or seasoned paddlers can join the competition once they learn the correct paddle stroke. We have members that are couples, single, young, and old. We are an inclusive team that works hard and plays hard together. During practices and on race days, the Dragons are acutely focused on their timing and form, when they are not on the water RDoCK is always getting involved in other activities as a team outside of dragon boating, including curling, feather bowling, running, penny auctions, lawn bowling, archery tag, and charity events. The Dragons are always ready to try a new sport or attend events together.
You can find the Dragons on the water from late April to the end of September. The team practices on the Thames twice a week from the docks behind the Fire Hall, on King Street and Second Street, in Chatham. The Dragons have an extensive collection of medals they have earned throughout their history and are looking forward to adding to their collection this season.
Dragons of Chatham-Kent are looking for paddlers, whether experienced or new to the sport. If you're interested in joining the team, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook to stay connected.