Rules of Competition

Learn what you need to know for race day.

/ Rules of Competition

Welcome Paddlers!

Ditch your motor boats, pontoons and jet skis and get ready for dragon boat racing!  Dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world, enjoyed by all ages and levels of experience.

On Saturday, August 19, 2023 the waters around Torpy Park in Minocqua will play host to what has been called “the ultimate team sport” because of the ability to bring together diverse groups of people in a common healthy cause.  The 7th Annual Minocqua Dragon Boat Festival is excited to be a part of this growing community building tradition.  Join us in an unforgettable day of fundraising, fellowship and fun.

Watch the races at Torpy Park, feast on fantastic food, gather for music, song and dance and celebrate an over 2,000 year old Chinese sport steeped in tradition.


What is a Dragon Boat Festival?

Dragon Boat Racing is an ancient Chinese sport that’s catching on across the US, as well as internationally, with competitions and cultural festivals held worldwide.

Traditionally, the Dragon Boat Festival is known as Duan Wu Jie (Mandarin) or Tuen Ng (Cantonese) which translates almost literally to “Day of Right mid-day”.  It is also known as Double Fifth Celebration, the Festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar.  Because of the modernization and the popularity of dragon boating, the Festival is becoming known as the Dragon Boat Festival.  The festival has evolved from a cultural community celebration to an international celebration.

Dragon boating is over 2,000 years old and is steeped in tradition. In ancient China, Chu Yuan, a poet, warrior, and loyal aide to the Emperor, fell victim to plots and deception, and fell out of favor with the Court.  When the old Emperor died, Chu Yuan was unjustly banished and wandered the countryside writing poems he hoped would be heard and heeded by the new Emperor.  Despondent, he finally threw himself into the Mi Lo River. His devoted followers, learning of his death, beat their paddles on the water and banged drums and gongs to frighten away the fish from Chu Yuan’s body. Athletes all over the world still meet to commemorate Yuan’s sacrifice for honor and justice.

The sport has grown into an international competitive event, with Dragon Boat Races held around the globe from Hong Kong to Sydney, and San Francisco to London.

The Howard Young Foundation thanks you for your participation. Paddles UP! And enjoy this unique experience!


The Team

You need to supply the 16 – 20 paddlers.  All of the teams will enjoy racing on top notch dragon boats and setting up their rest area in a beautiful location in Torpy Park with great views of the lake and race course.

  • Each team is required to have a drummer (no prior drumming experience necessary!)
  • Each team can have a maximum of 20 paddlers, and at least 1/2 of the paddlers must be female (drummer is not included as a paddler).  Each team must have a minimum of 16 paddlers to race, and again at least 1/2 of the paddlers must be female.
  • Minimum age for paddlers is 12 years old as of December 31, 2023 for Youth Junior U16 Division and 14 years old as of December 31, 2023 for all other divisions. Paddlers between the ages of 12 – 18, must have a guardian’s signature on the waiver.


Each Team Receives

  • 1 practice scheduled in the week leading up to the event.
  • Racing a minimum of 2 times on race day on a 300m race course.
  • All of the necessary equipment will be supplied to your team including a boat, life vests, paddles and a steersperson / coach.
  • A 10’x20’ team tent space.  This area will be located in the grassy area of lower Torpy Park. Bring your own 10’x10′ pop-up tent.


What to Wear

You WILL get wet. Wear clothing you do not mind getting wet.

  • Quick drying shorts
  • T-shirt or dri-fit shirt
  • Sandals w/straps, water shoes, (Tevas, Crocs, etc.)
  • Sunscreen/Sunglasses/hat with visor
  • In case of rain, bring rain gear
  • Consider bringing a towel and extra change of clothes
  • Knee pads, seat cushions and/or gloves may be worn. In the boat, your hand will likely slip up and down the shaft of the paddle. You may consider bringing gloves to minimize this. However, any other equipment, modifications to the boat or paddles will not be allowed.
  • Wristbands must be worn on race day. The captain will be responsible for handing out the wristbands  to team members on the morning of race day. Wristbands will be located in the team captain’s registration packet they receive at check in.  Wristbands tell race officials that you have signed all the necessary waivers.


What to Bring

  • Your team should bring a tent for shade at the festival. A 10’x10′ pop-up canopy is best. You may want to bring weights to anchor the tent legs and prevent the tent from blowing over. Long tent stakes are NOT allowed. Please be aware of the marked sprinkler heads and flagged power lines throughout the park.
  • Each team will have pre-determined tent space labeled with your team number.
  • Your team is responsible for setting up your tent.  You may begin as early as Friday at 5:00 p.m.  Security is on-site Friday night.  Tents should be set up and decorated by 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
  • You may bring a cooler with beverages and other snacks. Food and cold drinks will also be available at various concession stands.
  • We encourage teams to bring chairs, tables, decorations, snacks, footballs, sunscreen, hats, towels and garbage bags for your tent area.
  • Protect your valuables. We will not be able to protect them for you. Idea: Some teams bring a container and ask a non-rowing friend to watch the team’s valuables (phones, cameras, wallets, etc.)


Before Practices and Race Day

  • Develop an individual or team pledge-raising plan. This is a fundraising event and we encourage each team to raise as much money as possible for the Howard Young Foundation and our local hospitals.
  • You WILL get wet. It is a water sport. If you paddle on the right side, the right side of your body will be wet. If you paddle left, the left side will be wet. Please dress and prepare accordingly.
  • Get prepared by hydrating and exercising in advance. Keep in mind this is an aerobic sport. Hydration is very important. For more about hydration, read more about it on
  • Be prepared for rigorous exercise. Don’t have much time to workout in advance? Use quick exercise bursts.
  • When it heats up outside, acclimate your body to the weather and use less air conditioning.
  • Practices and races will happen rain or shine. Lightning and other severe weather will delay practices or races.



All practices will be held at Torpy Park, Minocqua, WI. Practices are vital to the Dragon Boat experience. Practice time will help your team become familiar with the boat and learn the technique, as well as master stroke timing.

  • The more team members that show for practice, the better your team performs on race day.
  • All captains need to check-in at the registration table prior to their training session to review roster and waiver information.
  • If you have changes to your roster, new team members must be present with you at the registration table to update registration and waivers.
  • Teams assemble 30 minutes before scheduled practice time and collect PFDs and paddles.
  • Dock Staff will assist teams to boat loading area. Steersperson will be assigned by Pan Am Dragon Boat.


Team Captain’s Meeting

  • A team Captain’s meeting will begin promptly at 8:00 a.m. on race day at the Marshalling area in Torpy Park. Team Captains and steerspeople MUST attend.
  • Preparation for heats one and two will begin at 8:30 a.m. Each team will compete in two heats. The combined time of the first two heats will determine if the team will qualify to compete in the finals of heat 3. Captains need to make sure that each team member has signed a waiver and is wearing their wristband.
  • Paddlers without a wristband will be will not be permitted to race. The Marshalling area will verify wristbands of each paddler prior to loading in the boat.

Race Day

  • The dragon boat race course is a 300-meter run on Lake Minocqua in front of Torpy Park. Your team will be outfitted with paddles, personal flotation devices and, of course, a Dragon Boat.
  • You’ll be racing in a three or four boat heat in lake water.
  • The race course is a straight, buoy marked course.
  • Each team will have a designated area. Teams may purchase snacks, food and drinks from festival vendors.
  • No alcohol is permitted in the marshalling area.
  • Report to your Team Tent area an hour before the race.
  • Your team will report to the marshaling area 20 minutes before each race.
  • Marshaling officials and volunteers will instruct your team to line up, and then alert you when it’s time to load the boat.
  • You may also consider bringing games to play between racing. Some teams bring corn hole, footballs, Frisbees, etc.
  • As a safety precaution, we request paddlers not consume alcoholic beverages until their participation in the races is completed.
  • There are plenty of portable toilet facilities. We plan on providing enough TP to last through the event, but experienced paddlers know to BYOTP!
  • Don’t forget to bring waterproof sunscreen and reapply it every two hours, hats, sunglasses and protective clothing such as a long sleeve shirt.
  • The public will have access to your personal belongings, so please don’t leave valuables unprotected. You are responsible for your team’s belongings so please plan accordingly. 


Additional Race Details and Rules

  • The race is 300 meters.
  • Each team is advised to carefully check the boat and paddles allocated before racing and request any spares. Race officials are obligated to replace damaged equipment at the request of a team before the team leaves the marshalling area.
  • Team members need to be respectful of all dragon boat festival equipment; they may not purposefully damage or alter the equipment.
  • Sound devices including radios, electronic signaling devices, bullhorns, air horns, whistles, generators with a decibel rating over 65dBA and other noisemaking devices are prohibited.
  • Each team member must be physically fit enough to participate. This means that the team member can swim 100 meters while wearing a PFD. The team captain must make sure all team members can comply with this regulation.
  • Any team that fails to return after a false start or that causes two false starts will be disqualified from that race.
  •  Each boat must remain in its correct lane and must not interfere with other boats in the race.
  • Any team that allows a non-waivered/ non-registered person to participate as a team member will be subject to disqualification.
  • Any person observed by an official to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be removed from paddling and cannot be replaced. In addition, that person’s team may be disqualified.
  • The Race Committee and Pan American Dragon Boat reserve the right to refuse the use of any dragon boat or equipment to a team member failing to follow these rules.


Potential Race Divisions

  • Divisions:  Each division must have a minimum of 3 teamsregistered to be a division.
    • Club – Mixed
    • Club – Women’s
    • Community – Mixed:
      • Team Types: Business, Friends & Family, Food & Libations, Health & Medical, Service Clubs, Lake Associations, Schools/Non Profit
    • Community – Senior (everyone but the drummer has to be 55 or older)
    • Survivor/BCS
    • Youth Junior – Youth Junior Division is U16 Ages 12-16


Race Scoring and Awards

  • Each team will compete in two heats. The combined times of heats 1 & 2 will determine if the team will qualify to compete in the finals.
  • The timing, scoring, seeding, and awards below are based on the expectation of a full field of 33 teams and are subject to change based on the number of boats competing in each division and category.  The goal of the event to is provide a fun and fair competition for all involved.



  • Club Women’s Top 6 will race 2 finals heats 3 boats each based on fastest combined time of heats 1 & 2
    • Women’s Club Final Heat #1 – Seed 6, 5, 4 will compete for places 4 – 6.
    • Women’s Club Final Heat #2 – Seed 3, 2, 1 Awards for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place.
  • Club Mixed Top 6 will race 2 finals heats 3 boats each based on fastest combined time of heats 1 & 2
    • Mixed Club Final Heat #1 – Seed 6, 5, 4 will compete for places 4 – 6.
    • Mixed Club Final Heat #2 – Seed 3, 2, 1 Awards for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place.
  • Community Mixed:  Top 12 teams will be seeded 1-12 in order based on fastest combinedtimes of heats 1 & 2.  Top 12 community mixed teams will compete in 4 heats, 3 boats each:
    • Community Mixed Final Heat #1– Seed 12, 11, 10 will compete for places 10 – 12.
    • Community Mixed Final Heat #2– Seed 9, 8, 7 will compete for places 7 – 9.
    • Community Mixed Final Heat #3– Seed 6, 5, 4 will compete for places 4 – 6.
    • Community Mixed Final Heat #4– Seed 3, 2, 1 will complete for places 1 – 3. Awards will be given for 1st 2nd and 3rd place.
  • Community Senior Top 3 teams based on fastest combined times of heats 1 & 2 will compete in a final heat.  Awards for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place.
  • Survivor Top 3 teams based on fastest combined times of heats 1 & 2 will compete in a final heat.  Awards for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place.
  • Youth Top 3 teams based on fastest combined times of heats 1& 2 will compete in a final heat. Awards for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place.
  • Club Team 2K Race: Our 2K race is only open to Club Teams who successfully completed the Final Heat. The Club Teams with the top six Final Heat times will be offered the opportunity to participate; if any decline, the next fastest Final Heat time for a Club Team will be offered the opportunity. All six teams will compete at once in the 2K race at the end of our festival. Our 2K race will be a staggered start with teams racing against the clock. Seed 6 starts first, and Seed 1 starts last.


Additional Awards

  • Community Division: Additional awards will be provided to fastest combined times of heats 1 & 2 for “team types” that have 3 or more teams registered in any Division.
  • Most Festive Drummer
  • Most Spirited Team
  • Wisest Dragon
  • Dragonling
  • Draggin’ Dragon
  • Fundraising Champion



  • Appeals must be made by the team captain only.
  • All protests must be made to the Head Race Official at the finish line tent within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the race heat in which the penalty was assessed at a fee of $25. This fee is non-refundable unless the Race Committee rules in favor of the team submitting the appeal.
  • The Race Committee will investigate the appeal and discuss the appeal with race officials who will make the final ruling.
  • The ruling of the Race Committee is final and without appeal.
  • No protests will be allowed concerning equipment.
  • In the event of a protest, only the team captains will be permitted in or near the Race Committee tent. If other team members are present, team disqualification may result.



Feel free to contact the Howard Young Foundation with any questions/concerns, or for additional information:  715-439-4005, [email protected]

Please remember to be respectful of our volunteers and thank them for their time. We couldn’t host this event without out their selfless commitment of time and talent.

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