Practice Information

Once you’ve registered for the 2016 Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival, it’s time to think about getting wet! And we recommend taking the opportunity to do so as soon as possible!

Scheduling for team practices is now open and that means more opportunities for your team to practice even earlier in preparation for race day!

Of course, you probably have a lot of questions about how that works. Here’s everything you need to know.


Team Captains: Schedule Your Practice

Each team is required to complete one practice prior to race day. For those teams who qualify for only one free practice, this practice must be scheduled between June 27 and July 14. If you are a sponsor-level team and receive more than one free practice, you can schedule one of your free practices prior to June 27. You can also purchase additional practices. In any case, be sure to act fast! Practice times are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note: Only the team captain can schedule practices using our online reservation system.

Step 1 – View the instructions on how to get started using our online practice scheduling system.

Step 2 - Visit www.bigbluedragonboat.com and login. View available practices dates and select and reserve a time(s) for your team. Here you may also purchase additional practice sessions to be scheduled immediately or at a later date.

Additional practices for purchase are optional. Costs are:
• $100 for 1 practice
• $90 (each) for 2-4 practices
• $85 (each) for 5 or more practices

All proceeds support the Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare Center for Breast Care.

Change or cancel a practice

Please call or text 608-792-4040 if you need to change or cancel your practice.

  • If you do need to cancel or change a practice, please notify us at least 24 hours in advance. We won’t be able to provide refunds but you will be able to reschedule your practice with no additional fee. 
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before a scheduled practice, we will not be able to provide a refund nor will we be able to guarantee an opportunity to reschedule.

All Paddlers: Prepare for Your Practice

Practice Arrival

One team practice is mandatory for each registered team. Be sure to choose a time when all team members can attend your team practice. Even seasoned paddlers need at least one practice with the team. Each person must also complete a waiver at the time of arrival; waivers will be provided for each team at the practice site. Paddlers and the drummer will not be allowed in the boat unless this has been completed. Completion of waivers will be verified.

All teams must arrive 30 minutes prior to the practice start time. Please don’t be late. You’ll have some paperwork and organizing to do, in addition to a quick reminder of safety guidelines and dragon boat commands, which can easily take 30 minutes. It’ll be a lot more relaxing and effective if you aren’t in a rush. Plus, it will give you more time in the boat and on the water!

Please use any remaining time to warm up before getting in the boat. The boat will push off at the scheduled time and won’t wait or return for latecomers. Note that a steersperson, coach and equipment will be provided.

What to Bring

Paddles and personal flotation devices (PFDs) will be provided, but feel free to bring your own if you prefer. Please note that inflatable PFDs are not permitted. Also be sure to bring:

  • Sunscreen

  • Water Bottle

  • Comfortable, clothing and footwear that can get wet (Aqua shoes, Crocs with heel straps and old tennis shoes work well. No flip flops are allowed.)

  • Seat cushion or Dragon Saddle (a gardening knee pad works well when covered with a nonslip shelf liner).

Who to Bring

It’s important for ALL team members to practice together at least once. An experienced steersperson and coach will be provided for you for practice sessions. Teams can provide their own experienced steersperson, with prior approval, if he or she has had previous steering experience in a dragon boat race.

Practice Etiquette

  • Prior to arriving, be sure to review basic safety guidelines and dragon boat commands.

  • Arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled start time.

  • Always listen to and promptly obey your steersperson’s commands.

  • No alcohol is allowed before or during practices. On race day, intoxication is grounds for disqualification. Socializing and competing are both a big part of this sport, so be responsible.

  • All paddlers at practice are expected to listen to a safety briefing and orientation before getting on the water.

If there is bad weather at your practice time

Practices will still occur if it’s raining, but if there’s any thunder or lightening, practices will be rescheduled. If you’re already on the water when these conditions arise, the steersperson will return to shore as quickly as possible. If a practice needs to be rescheduled, the practice coordinator will work with you to schedule a new time.

Decisions to cancel due to forecasted weather will be made at least two hours before a scheduled practice. If a practice is cancelled due to weather, the practice coordinator will alert your team captain. In that event, you will be able to reschedule without any additional fee.

When Practice Time Ends

Dragon boats and equipment must be returned at least 5 minutes before the end of the team's scheduled practice session for the next team to use. If yours is the last practice of the day, please bail excess water from the boat and return all borrowed equipment to the storage shed within the fenced area.


Practice Location

Practice sessions will be held at the Clinton Street Boat Ramp. (Take Clinton Street west towards French Island. You will see the ramp after crossing the Black River)

Enter the boat ramp/park area (Boathouse Drive). Do not park in the paved area. Continue heading south to the space where you will see the Dragon Boat storage area (look for the chain link fenced area with trailers). Restrooms are located in the small raised building you will pass on the way to the boat storage area.

Practice Site Map