One of the more popular and exciting activities that you will find in The Villages is Dragon Boat Racing.
There are a number of club teams that emphasize different levels of competitiveness. Based on your fitness level and preferred training schedule, you can surely find a team that you will fit in with.
What Is Dragon Boat Racing?
A Dragon Boat is a long, skinny canoe-shaped boat. The front of the boat is made to resemble a dragon’s head, and the back of the boat looks like a dragon’s tail. The crew of the boat each use individual paddles to propel it forward.
Traditional Dragon Boats are built for 22 people. This includes 20 paddlers, one drummer at the front of the boat, and one sweeper at the back of the boat. The drummer beats a drum in order to help the crew synchronize their paddling; he is tasked with speeding up and slowing down the paddling as needed. The sweeper is the person who is steering the ship. He uses a sweep oar as a small rudder to control the direction of the boat.
The rowers in Dragon Boats use a simple paddle, instead of the typical oar that you would find in most competitive racing boats. They paddle the same way any single person in a canoe would paddle. This makes Dragon Boat rowing very simple to learn, yet very difficult to master, which is exactly why it is so popular among villagers.
How Can I Get Involved?
The Grand Masters Dragon Boat Club is the organization that services all of the Dragon Boat Teams from The Villages. They hold meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 PM at the Sea Breeze Recreation Center. There you will be able to meet members from all of the different teams at The Villages including the Silver Dragons, The Black Sheep, The Village Dragons, This Boat Rocks, Dragon Sisters, and The Leathernecks.
Some of these teams have an average age approaching 70, yet they are still able to row circles around competitors that are half their ages. Many of the teams list being able to get into the boat and a desire to compete as their only qualifications for joining.
While there are many teams who focus on exercise and having fun, some teams are out there to win. The Black Sheep Marines feature a number of former Marines, as well as members with other military experience. They are probably the most hardcore Dragon Boat team in the villages when it comes to training and success.
The Black Sheep Marines recently won a gold medal at the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival. They also won a number of medals at the Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival earlier this year.
Villagers Going To Nationals
There are eleven men and three women from The Villages that are going to compete on the United States National Team in the C Division, which is for paddlers over the age of 60. They will be representing their country and The Villages at the 11th World Dragon Boat Racing Championship later this month in Hungary.
Coach Lee Cerovac was recently quoted in The Villages Daily Sun saying that Villagers have a significant advantage over their competition because they are able to practice year-round here in Florida.
Whether your goal is to tryout for the US National Team, or just to have some fun exercising out on the water, Dragon Boat Racing can be a great social experience. You will be able to meet like-minded people and work hard with them to chase your goals.