website header showing the dragon boat challenge logo and the Rotary Club International Logo

About the Annual Dragon Boat Challenge

View of the overall event the water and some teams
Picture of a Dragon Boat Drummer
Picture of a Dragon Boat being paddled hard

The Dragon Boat ChallengeDragon Boat racing is an ancient Chinese tradition and great fun! Each boat is crewed by a team of paddlers with a drummer at the front beating time and we provide a qualified helm at the tail to steer a straight course.

No previous experience is required, just plenty of team spirit!

We want to see 60 teams compete throughout the day to become the fastest to complete the 250 yard course at Billing Aquadrome. Crews comprise of 10 paddlers plus a drummer – Gold and Silver squads may be larger. Crews can be mixed, all female or all male and organisations may enter more than one crew. There will be prizes for the top 3 teams in each of these categories and for the best  team name and best dressed.

Buoyancy aids, the helm and water safety cover are professionally provided by Gable Events. All crew members must be confident in cold water conditions, in light clothing and in moving water and compete entirely at their own risk. The minimum age is 16.

In each category, the fastest teams from the heats progress through semi-finals and a final contest to decide a winner.

Racing starts at 10am and the final race takes place at around 5pm.

Team entry into the Dragon Boat competition is on a first-come first-served basis; procedures and requirements are detailed in the entry form see the How to Enter section below.

Bring the family to enjoy a great day out!Several thousand spectators will be enjoying the spectacle and many of these will be family, friends and work colleagues. We offer a space for you to set up a gazebo and arrange food and refreshments for all your guests. They will enjoy the lakeside entertainment and the wider facilities on site at Billing Aquadrome  including the fun fair, train ride, food in “the Venue” and speciality stalls.
Teams will be entitled free pedestrian passes and, where specified, a number of free car entry passes. Without a team pass, entry to the Dragon Boat Festival site costs £7 per vehicle providing access to the event, a free pogramme, the stalls and all other entertainments laid on throughout the day.

The Sponsorship Challenge

As well as a fun and entertaining day, our prime aim is to raise as much money as possible for the selected charities. Much of our profit comes from the personal sponsorship raised by boat crew members or funded through their corporate package. We ask each paddler entered in a Bronze package to raise £50 sponsorship and every Community entry to raise £100 sponsorship. Gift Aid forms are supplied to ensure the tax man also contributes!

There are loads of ways to raise sponsorship and we have an excellent guide with over 100 ways to raise the money.

The beneficiaries of the money raised by teams are the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, local individuals in need or Northamptonshire charities.

The total raised for these charities in 2016 was £25,000

How to Enter

Decide first if you will become a corporate or a community entry.

Corporate Entry: Select Gold, Silver or Bronze Entry Level, complete the entry form and arrange to send the specified payment either by cheque or bank transfer.

All boat entries must be confirmed with a completed entry form and the applicable payment.

Community Entry: If you can not make the initial payment. Entries, subject to the discretion of the organisers, can be accepted from some groups who are unable to make this payment but instead commit to raising not less than £1000 in team sponsorship (£100 each). On rare occasions we may be able to find a corporate sponsor for those teams who otherwise would not be able to take part (please call us for more details).

What happens next?

Every Gold and Silver Corporate team will receive:

  • A team pack and full team briefing
  • Pre event onsite viewing
  • Car Park passes as specified in the level of entry
  • Promotional and advertising benefits
  • An enhanced team pitch location
  • A number of free programmes
  • A guaranteed payment to WNAA

Community and Bronze Corporate team will receive:

  • A team pack and full team briefing
  • Pre event onsite viewing
  • Guide to the 100 best ways to raise sponsorship
  • Sponsorship forms and Just Giving link

Team Draw

A draw will take place to decide who will race against who on the lake at Billing Aquadrome in the initial heats. The results of that draw, with race order for all teams and heats, will be posted in advance.

We wish every team the best of luck.

On the day

Racing will be managed by Gable Events an approved operator of the British Dragon Boat Racing Association (BDA) and the Festival will be run under BDA Rules and hold a BDA Race Permit. All crews accepted for entry must abide with the competition rules of the BDA and the entry details.

Site location, facilities and land based activities will be managed by members of the four Rotary Clubs of Northampton. Prior to the start of racing a team briefing will be held, attended by all team managers.

For more information please have a look at the pages on this website. Or call Paul Simpson on 07791 030 571.