Official Race Rules & Regulations (download PDF here)

  1. Conditions of Race Entry.

    Each Participant Agrees to:

    1. Register and pay your US $300.00 entry fee to Hawaii Dragon Boat Race Association.
    2. Abide by the race rules and the instructions of the race officials.
    3. Sign a waiver prior to the race regarding any claims against the Hawaii Dragon Boat Association.
    4. Use only the equipment provided by the Race Committee, including boats, paddles, and drums.
    5. All participants in the Dragon Boat(s) MUST wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
  2. Division Races.

    The Saturday divisional races will allow teams within a specific industry to compete for the appropriate industry trophy. There will be trophies awarded to the 1st place winners in the following proposed list of categories/ industries. You may enter as many race teams as you wish to compete for the same industry trophy and/or a different industry trophy as long as each race team pays a separate entry fee. If you are a large entity with many departments, or a family of companies, e.g. "Territorial Savings Bank", we will organize inter-departmental races for your company.

    If you should enter a race division and there are not enough race teams registered in your division, we will place your race team in a division that may be closely related to your line of business.

    Proposed Industry Cups:

    1. City & County of Honolulu Department Cup;
    2. State of Hawaii Department Cup;
    3. U.S. Government Department Cup;
    4. CINCPAC Cup (Military Cup);
    5. Hotel Cup;
    6. Firemen's Cup;
    7. Police Department / Public Safety / Private Security Cup;
    8. Financial Institution / Banker's Cup;
    9. Credit Union Cup;
    10. Chinese Societies Cup;
    11. Martial Arts Cup;
    12. Energy (Petroleum) Cup;
    13. Food & Beverage Distribution and Produce Cup;
    14. Telecommunications (telephone, long distance, cellular, radio, etc.) Cup;
    15. Hawaii Canoe Regatta Cup;
    16. Union Cup (All public and private union groups);
    17. Transportation Cup (Air, land and sea type of travel);
    18. 50th State Jaycees Cup;
    19. Master Senior's Cup (Paddlers must be 45 years of age);
    20. International Cup (out of state teams);
    21. Women's Cup (limited to women only);
    22. High School Cup;
    23. University Cup;
    24. Top 100 Businesses in Hawaii Cup;
    25. Small Business Cup;
    26. Chamber of Commerce Cup;
    27. Celebrity Cup (competition between the Mayor's team, Governor's team, City Council team, Senate team and House of Representatives team); and
    28. Special Cup – for inter-departmental races.
  3. Open Race Division.

    On Sunday, the Open Race Division will consist of a single-elimination competition. Teams will be organized into heats at random. Awards will be given to the 1st through 3rd place teams. All entry teams registered for Saturday, Divisional Race will automatically be registered to compete in the Open Race Division on Sunday.

    NOTE: You do not have to compete in both the Divisional Race and the Open Race Division. You may elect to race for one day only (either Saturday or Sunday). However, the entry fee per team will remain at US $300.00 regardless of your selection.

  4. Team Composition.

    1. Each team shall consist of 19 members: 16 paddlers, 1 flag catcher, 1 drummer, and 1 steersperson.
    2. The flag catcher and drummer may use either seat 1 or 2 to sit or stand on the boat.
    3. The flag catcher may sit or lay prone on the bow of the boat or in any position to grab the flag. The flag catcher may NOT sit or lay upon the dragon head. If the flag catcher or any other team member should fall into the water during the race, then the team will be disqualified. No one may assist the flag catcher in grabbing the flag. Also, no jumping to grab flag.
    4. All paddlers will sit in a pair (2 people) from seat 3 to 10.
    5. All team members shall enter and exit from the front of the boat. DO NOT EXIT from the STERN. Do NOT walk on the seats. DO NOT EXIT OR ENTER FROM THE SIDE OF THE BOAT, unless INSTRUCTED BY THE RACE OFFICAL OR STEERSPERSON. Exception: to hold the boat or prevent the boat from crashing into the rocks, sand or another boat! Penalty: disqualification or 10 sec time penalty!

      Entry system: last seats (Row 10 paddlers) should enter first. Load rows from back to front. The flag catcher and the drummer enter last.

      Exiting system: Flag catcher and drummer exit first, followed by rows 3 to 10. Leave the paddles perpendicular ON the seats AND place your PFD (Personal Flotation Device) at the bow of the boat when exiting!

      Steersperson: Steersperson may enter or exit the boat at any time. Although each team may have their own designated team captain, the Hawaii Dragon Boat race officials will ONLY consider the steersperson as the team captain during the race.

    6. The steersperson, when on the boat, is the CAPTAIN of the boat. Once all paddlers enter the boat, instructions should be given by the Steersperson only, not the team captain. Team members must follow the directions of the steersperson and race officials. Failure to abide by the race officials instructions will result in a disqualification. LISTEN TO THE RACE OFFICIALS!
    7. Prior to the start of the race, the Steersperson is responsible to line-up the boat to the RIGHT of the flag.
    8. Steersperson should steer boats to the tire or designated area. Do NOT allow the boat to touch the sand, rocks or coral.
    9. Do not use the paddles or steering oar to push the boat from the shore or into the sand.
    10. ALL teams should help to tender the boat for their team and other teams; both prior to and after their race.
    11. Teams racing at the beginning or end of the day may be asked to carry the boat from the water to a designated area. Teams may also be requested to do this prior to a rest break or at some other time as required. Please help us to return the boats on Sunday to our storage area.
    12. Race officials will provide a race-sponsored steersperson for any team that requests one.
    13. All non-race-sponsored steerspersons must be checked out and cleared for steering prior to race day. This will be done at the practice sessions prior to race day.
    14. Only steerspersons who have been checked out and cleared by a race official will be allowed to steer on race day. There will be no exceptions. Race officials will provide a steersperson on race day for any team who does not have an officially cleared steersperson.
    15. All teams are allowed 10 alternate paddlers. Alternate paddlers may be rotated in the racing lineup for any race.
    16. If members of any team do not show up on race day, the team captain may fill the vacancies with alternate or substitute paddlers, including paddlers from other teams, as long as they have signed a waiver and meet the restrictions of the division. However, no team may race with more than 10 alternate or substitute paddlers.
    17. All teams must race with a flag catcher, a drummer and a steersperson in addition to their 16 paddlers.
    18. There will be no gender and/or age restrictions, other than the Women's and Master Seniors race.
    19. For any paddlers under the age of 13, the parent or guardian must sign a waiver. It is mandatory and the responsibility of the team captain to regulate this compliance.
    20. For any race team (other than Women's race), a combination of male or female paddlers may race.
  5. Race Format.

    1. Due to the large number of entries there will be two (2) days of racing. Saturday for the Divisional race. Sunday for all teams to race. For each day, each race team will consist of single elimination heats. Teams outside of Hawaii will have the opportunity to race in their division and also in the International Division.
    2. Three teams will race in each heat, and only the winner will advance. The second and third place teams will be eliminated.
    3. All teams will race in heats of 3 teams until one final heat of 3 teams is reached.
    4. Heat and lane selections will be done at random.
    5. Lanes will be numbered as follows: Lane 1-inside or closest to the beach, Lane 2-center, Lane 3- outside or closest to the reef.
    6. Dragon boats will be assigned to the lanes as follows: Lane 1-Sunny Wong (red boat), Lane 2-the Beatrice Young (blue boat), Lane 3-the ZhongShan (yellow boat).
  6. Pre-Race Instructions.

    1. A schedule of events with starting times for all of the preliminary heats will be distributed to each team captain prior to race day.
    2. The Divisional Race day is on Saturday. The first heat will begin at 8:00 a.m. Sharp. Heats will run approximately every 10 minutes. The Open Race Finals will be held on Sunday and begin at 9:00 a.m. sharp.
    3. Team Captains or a designated representative of your team should report to Ala Moana Beach Park at the Race check-in Tent in the middle of the beach at least one hour prior to the starting time of their heat.
    4. Times for semi-final and final heats will be announced as soon as they can be determined by race officials.
    5. Paddlers must wear a Hawaii Dragon Boat Festival race T-shirt, or their organization team or club T-shirt or any type of clothing that represents their team (e.g. Head bands, no t-shirt, something uniform). Race Teams may elect to take advantage of having their team or club logo printed on a T-shirt at reasonable cost by Fortune Design Collections. All artwork shall be submitted as early as possible to ensure that your shirt colors are selected and your logos are printed in time for race day.
    6. Team captains shall insure that all participants in the boat are wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Race officials will provide as many life PFDs as requested.
    7. Only IDBF-licensed dragon boat paddles may be used. If any member of your year should bring their own IDBF paddle, then it must be reviewed by the race official in advance. The unused paddle remains in the boat.
    8. All heats, including Semi-final and Final races will start from both ends of the race course. Be sure to keep checking-in with the Race Tent.
  7. Race Instructions.

    1. Race officials will call teams to report for their heats 10 minutes before the start of the heat. Failure to report in a timely manner may result in disqualification. PLEASE listen for, and to, announcements.
    2. Steerspersons should get their crews onboard and move their boat into a starting position as quickly as possible.
    3. Do NOT remove any PFD or paddles from the boat without the race official approval.
    4. Steerspersons shall hold their boats in position and wait for the starter instructions. "Hold Water" means that paddlers should put their paddles in the water to stop the boat from drifting forward. "Back Paddle" means that paddlers should put their paddles in the water and row to move the boat backwards.
    5. The race official will start the race when at least 2 boats are within 20' of the start line. We will make all attempts to start the race from a stationary position, but this is not a guarantee.
    6. When the starter is satisfied that boats are properly lined up, he/she will say, "Paddles Up" and sound the air horn for the start.
    7. Any boat that crosses the start line prior to the sound of the air horn will be disqualified for a false start. No heat will be re-started for a false start.
    8. Race heats will begin without late or missing teams, after a final announcement is issued by the race announcer and race official at the start line!
  8. Race Conduct.

    1. The correct course for each boat is a straight line from the start line to the finish line. Each boat must remain in its lane and must not interfere with other boats.
    2. If race officials determine that one boat has interfered with another by not keeping a proper course, the interfering boat shall be disqualified.
    3. The official racecourse is 500 meters. Both ends of the race course will be marked with a set of buoys and colored flags. The color of the flags will correspond to the color of the boats.
    4. The removal of the flag by fly catcher will constitute the finish of the race. The flag catcher must remain on the boat and demonstrate that he/she has possession of the flag.
    5. The flag catcher may step up next to the dragon's head and position himself/herself there at any time during the race.
    6. If the flag catcher fails to grab the flag or drops it, the team will be disqualified. If 2 of more teams fail to grab their flags or drop them, the time results for the disqualified teams will be determined by their race times.
    7. No other team member besides the flag catcher may grab the flag.
    8. The flag catcher may only grab the flag in his/her teams assigned lane, the same colored flag as his/her team's boat. If the flag catcher grabs the wrong flag, his/her team will be disqualified. The team whose flag was taken will place in the heat as if they had successfully grabbed their flag. Race officials will determine times.
    9. All 18 members must remain in the boat from start to finish, especially the flag catcher. If the flag catcher dives off the boat to grab the flag or falls in the water after grabbing the flag, the team will be disqualified.
    10. If any team member falls overboard during the race, the boat must stop and pick him/her up. Failure to pick up a team member overboard will result in disqualification.
    11. If race officials determine that any team has deliberately swamped, collided with or capsized another boat, that team will be disqualified, assigned last place in the heat, and may be refused further participation in the races.
    12. At the conclusion of each heat, the head judge will determine the official order of finish.
    13. After crossing the finish line, team members shall remain in their boats and return to the beach immediately.
    14. In the event of a tie between any boats, each boat in the tie will advance to the next round of competition. In the event of a tie in a final heat, each boat in the tie will race again in a tiebreaker heat.
    15. Teams will have 5 minutes to load boat and stage at start line. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.
  9. Safety.

    All team members will verify that they (each member) can swim. Non-swimmers, if any, shall provide for themselves a United States of America Coast Guard approved personal floatation device for their personal use during all race practices and during all races prior to boarding the boat. Non-swimmers will be prohibited from boarding the boats without wearing their floatation equipment. It is up to each team to monitor their own paddlers and participants.

    1. If a paddler breaks or drops his/her paddle, he/she should not attempt to retrieve it.
    2. All participants in the boat are required to wear a life jacket/PFD.
    3. If a boat swamps, team members should stay with the boat until the water safety officials arrive.
    4. If the boat should flip over, team members should first assist themselves and then aid other team members who need assistance.
    5. Everyone wears a PFD. If any member of your team should wear their own PFD, then the extra PFD must remain in the boat. Exception: steersperson.
  10. Protests.

    1. Protests may be filed only by the team captains.
    2. Protests must be filed with the Race Director within 5 minutes after the completion of the disputed race.
    3. The Protest Committee shall consist of the Race Director and two finish line judges. Their decisions shall be final.