The National Sports Day takes place every second Tuesday of February, every year. This is a holiday to promote health and wellness to all the locals and residents of Qatar. If you go around the whole city, each place offers different kind of activities. One that is closest to my heart is Dragon Boat, instead of paddling . ♥
After 4 successful meetings and sharing of knowledge in preparation of the National Sports Day Mock Race and Community Paddling that was held yesterday, February 12, 2019, we were able to pull off a great event everyone, even non-paddlers enjoyed. The mock race was held at Katara and the program started at 8:00am.
It was my first time to be a part of a mock race committee and this was a learning experience for me too. I’ve always daydreamed of organizing my own event and I did my research before but nothing beats having the actual experience. This post is to share how each team has contributed to pull off such event and it would be nice if others would be able to do it too. I sometimes feel like people have a common misconception about Dragon Boat that the sports actually chooses certain people to be qualified. It is hard but with the proper amount of patience and training, anyone would be able to be paddlers.
I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again, that it’s only impossible to wish for a perfect event. I’ve been involved in a few races as a paddler and now, being part of the committee was a privilege to view things in a different perspective. All the mistakes were noted as lessons we all learned from. It’s not easy and I’m in awe of how organizers keep their calm when teams protest or when uncontrollable things happen, but it’s quite doable with the proper preparation and orientation.
The race committee should be consisting of all teams, they can support their teams but have to remain neutral, fair at all times with the results of the race.
- Head and sub-committees. The Race Official was Arkan (from Masterpiece) who guides and decides on what things are needed on the race day to form sub-committees. He’s the one who should make the call for any unforeseen that happens on race day, with the approval from all the heads of each sub-committee.
- Technical team was headed by sir Renchel and Jason (from Onslaught), they have experienced operating a race last year in September and they have excellent knowledge on how to operate the race from setting up the buoys, to being at the start as an umpire and the finish line with all the technical stuff to record the results. Kudos to them for doing a great job, without them the event wouldn’t have been as successful as it had been. At the start, sir Jason, the umpire was supported by PDWQ Coach, Buboy and Doha Dragons paddler, Greg while at the finish line, Mohan from Angry Dragons and Rachelle from Masterpiece were with Renchel.
- Loading area committee plays an important role (of course everybody else does) to guide paddlers which boat they’re supposed to be on and which lane they’re going at the course. This was headed by Shahlaby of Doha Wireless Warriors. The loading area committee sees to it that everyone is wearing a life vest properly secured, that the drummer has the drumstick and that the correct number of paddlers are on the boat.
- Program committee is responsible for the program flow. As part of tradition, the eye-dotting ceremony should be the opening of each race, which is a symbol of giving life to the dragon. (Please correct me if I’m mistaken) Also they are responsible for getting the accurate scores at the finish line to prepare for semis and finals, and inform the teams accordingly. Headed by Peter, from Doha Dragons and me as his assistant. (Proudly from Mastepiece)
- Media Committee as part of spreading awareness and an invitation to residents of Qatar to witness show what Dragon Boat is, we invited Media partners to feature a pre-event article as well as the post-event results and happenings, which was headed by PDWQ Paddlers Mae and Dianne. (We are now featured by The Peninsula Qatar as of writing. Thank you!
MOCK RACE PREP
- OBJECTIVE – First determine the objective of the race to be organized. Questions to ask are, is it for preparing for a nearing international race, for fun, to spread awareness on a certain advocacy or to measure the competitiveness of each team? Mock races are usually done by volunteers, meaning there is not enough budget to pull of an event with the wide-screen showing the view of the finish line, or have the extravagant medals but it can still be a race without the usual things we get when we register to an actual race. In yesterday’s mock race, the objective was to give back to Katara for their generosity to allow us to use the area for our training. Shukran, Katara!!!
- SAFETY – The paddlers’ safety is important. Dragon boat is known to be one of the most challenging and strenuous sports. It being on water, it is important that paddlers are trained for any event that could happen during the race. Capsizing drills are important, and I’m proud to say that we have been properly trained in our team. Everyone should be able to swim at least 50m even without PFD. That’s why we’re lucky our coach taught us basic swimming as well. Paddlers, the steersman and drummer should wear the proper and tested PFD and be confident in the water. In case there’s a capsizing, there should be a hired safety boat to be in the area or trained life-savers in worse cases.
- PROGRAM FLOW – How many hours is the target of this event. Once you’re able to determine the objective and program flow, you can decide on the basis of winning later on to reach your target time. The program of course should involve all the teams to give them a race they’ll remember. They are responsible to let the paddlers know where the starting line is, finish line and how to go back to the loading area. All the rules that come with the race should be known to all the teams.
- BASIS OF WINNING – I’ve learned that there are many different ways to determine winners of a race. There’s fastest time who advances to the finals, while the rest compete for repechage. There’s cumulative time, similar to fastest time, but instead goes to x number of heats with the same teams per heat, and gets the accumulated time. There’s what we call, “first heat goes to finals”. The teams per heat are by draw lots to be fair, and whichever team advances first to the finish line goes straight to finals while the rest compete for repechage. In our case yesterday, the 2nd placers of each heat advance to semi-finals to compete for the final slot of the finals, while the rest are eliminated. As mentioned earlier, some mock races’ objective is in preparation of future races, which means the fastest time looks like a more reasonable choice since it’s a race and we always aim for the lowest time.
- STARTING LANE – The starting lane is where the umpire is. The umpire is important because he calls when to start. The umpire’s voice must be clear enough for the paddlers to hear. He has the right to call a false start and to align the boats fairly.
- FINISH – With the proper use of technology, it’s easier to determine the placing and time of the finishers. There should be a recorder to review these videos in case there are changes or protests that should be done. Also with a person who gets the accurate time of finishing with a stopwatch in line with the video timing. Teams work hard to train, even if it’s just a mock race and as much as they hate to admit that they want to win — they really want to win. Please, don’t argue with me on this. Just kidding, each teams differ and we respect that.
- RACE COURSE – The race course is important. It should be aligned to the finish with proper buoys. Depends on which distance was agreed. It could be 200-m, 500-m or 150-m, or whatever distance you wish to race. This is proper referencing with enough distance from one lane to another to avoid collision in case the steersman loses control over the boat, which happens and it’s totally normal.
- RIGHT ATTITUDE – You will come across different kinds of paddlers and you need to bring with you a big amount of patience. There will be inevitable mishaps you will need to explain calmly. There will be moments that people protest and question the results. That’s why it’s right to invest on this without having to pay any costs. Borrow a camera, a back-up camera in case it gets dead battery or 2 laptops, to show them the results. I personally know how it feels to be cheated on and everyone deserves to get the fair results. But when you’re on the other side, playing the role of an organizer, you’re supposed to handle these situations calmly and proper composure is the key. Filter the concerns you get and deal with them separately. In case an emergency happens, be more proactive than reactive to come up with the right decisions in the end.
I’m no expert. But I don’t think you need to be an expert to be part of a committee. If you’re planning on organizing a mock race such as what we did yesterday, these are just key guides. It’s important to listen to those who have prior experience and be open to all new suggestions to make things better for everyone. I’m open to suggestions and additions to this post!!! These are solely what I learned from the experience. No hatin!!! I love dragon boat!! ♥ Be a part of the Qatar Dragon Boat community now 🙂