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March 2022

Achieving high performance
on the water.

The challenges of Dragon boating with Charlotte Cromarty.

If you are walking beside a lake or a river on a sunny day in New Zealand, you might hear something a little strange. The beating of the drums as a dragon boat whips through the water. Twenty oars sweep through in unison, matching the metronome. It looks like a scene from a historical documentary, of invasions and ancient competition. But it’s here and now, and a sport that’s growing in popularity.

Dragon boating originated in mainland China and has a rich history. In the warring states period (485 BC), a famous and patriotic poet named Qu Yuan was accused of treason and was exiled from his state. He drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year after finding out his old province was conquered and so every year, to honour his legacy, a festival is held.

Each Province in China will serve special dishes and hold dragon boat races that differ in ruleset and intensity depending on local customs. These festivals gained traction in the 1970s with a resurgence of the sport in Hong Kong, which led to it migrating out to other countries round the World.

Today, dragon boating is an internationally recognised sport, with a regulatory body that oversees international competitions and rulesets. Over 50 countries participate in the sport with an estimated 50 million active participants around the world. Every two years an international competition is held, with the club championships in one year and the World championships the next. There has been a break for the last two years due to Covid, but the club crew World champs are scheduled for July 22 in USA.

Olympic gold medalist kayakers Ian Ferguson and Paul Mcdonald brought Dragon Boating to New Zealand in 1984 where it took off. Clubs can be found up and down the country, with a thriving social and competitive scene. Whether you’re looking for a sociable paddle, to get a sweat up and have a chat, or to compete in regattas, there’s something for everyone.

“It’s very strenuous on your body, your back and shoulders especially and that’s just the physical side.”

Dragon boats are canoe shaped boats, typically with 10 people paddling in unison on each side. The crew size is usually 20 people along with a drummer and a sweeper. The drummer literally plays the drums and sets the tempo of the boat, the sweeper is in charge of balance and steering. The boats alone can weigh as much as 270 kg and the average speed during a race is about 11 kilometres an hour.

Races can range from 200 metres to two kilometres. Athletes need to develop high cardiovascular capacity and strength to paddle as long and as efficiently as possible.

Charlotte Cromarty is a paddler for the Tu Meke women’s team, one of the premier competitive clubs in the country. She joined the team in 2016 after some of her friends in high school suggested they try it out. Charlotte loves the sport for a multitude of reasons.

“I like the social aspect. You meet a lot of new people. There’s twenty people in a boat, it’s a large team so it’s really social, really fun.

“I love the competitive aspect too. My team is super competitive. Last time we went to the Nationals we won all three titles for standard boats. We race to win.”

Charlotte’s favourite event is the two kilometre race. It’s a different animal compared to the shorter races.

“There’s just a bit more carnage. There’s multiple turns, so you have to be careful otherwise you’re going to hit other boats and paddle right next to them. It’s just that extra bit that makes it a ton of fun.”

She says the sport is tough, but rewarding.

“It is quite hard. It’s very strenuous on your body, your back and shoulders especially and that’s just the physical side. Mentally it’s so difficult to do a two-kilometre race. Tough on your body and your mind, but you gotta get through it."

“It’s all focus. But when you see other boats next to you, it’s harder. You can’t just focus on yourself.”

March 2022

Achieving high performance
on the water.

The challenges of Dragon boating with Charlotte Cromarty.

If you are walking beside a lake or a river on a sunny day in New Zealand, you might hear something a little strange. The beating of the drums as
a dragon boat whips through the water. Twenty oars sweep through in unison, matching the metronome. It looks like a scene from a historical documentary, of invasions and ancient competition. But it’s here and
now, and a sport that’s growing in popularity.

Dragon boating originated in mainland China and has a rich history. In the warring states period (485 BC), a famous and patriotic poet named Qu Yuan was accused of treason and was exiled from his state. He drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year after finding out his old province was conquered and so every year, to honour his legacy, a festival is held.

Each Province in China will serve special dishes and hold dragon boat races that differ in ruleset and intensity depending on local customs. These festivals gained traction in the 1970s with a resurgence of the sport in Hong Kong, which led to it migrating out to other countries round the World.

Today, dragon boating is an internationally recognised sport, with a regulatory body that oversees international competitions and rulesets. Over 50 countries participate in the sport with an estimated 50 million active participants around the world. Every two years an international competition is held, with the club championships in one year and the World championships the next. There has been a break for the last two years due to Covid, but the club crew World champs are scheduled for July 22 in USA.

Olympic gold medalist kayakers Ian Ferguson and Paul Mcdonald brought Dragon Boating to New Zealand in 1984 where it took off.
Clubs can be found up and down the country, with a thriving social
and competitive scene. Whether you’re looking for a sociable paddle,
to get a sweat up and have a chat, or to compete in regattas, there’s something for everyone.

It’s very strenuous on your body, your back and shoulders especially and that’s just the physical side.”

Dragon boats are canoe shaped boats, typically with 10 people paddling
in unison on each side. The crew size is usually 20 people along with a drummer and a sweeper. The drummer literally plays the drums and sets the tempo of the boat, the sweeper is in charge of balance and steering. The boats alone can weigh as much as 270 kg and the average speed during a race is about 11 kilometres an hour.

Races can range from 200 metres to two kilometres. Athletes need to develop high cardiovascular capacity and strength to paddle as long and as efficiently as possible.

Charlotte Cromarty is a paddler for the Tu Meke women’s team, one of
the premier competitive clubs in the country. She joined the team in
2016 after some of her friends in high school suggested they try it out. Charlotte loves the sport for a multitude of reasons.

“I like the social aspect. You meet a lot of new people. There’s twenty people in a boat, it’s a large team so it’s really social, really fun.

“I love the competitive aspect too. My team is super competitive.
Last time we went to the Nationals we won all three titles for standard boats. We race to win.”

Charlotte’s favourite event is the two kilometre race. It’s a different animal compared to the shorter races.

“There’s just a bit more carnage. There’s multiple turns, so you have to be careful otherwise you’re going to hit other boats and paddle right next to them. It’s just that extra bit that makes it a ton of fun.”

She says the sport is tough, but rewarding.

“It is quite hard. It’s very strenuous on your body, your back and shoulders especially and that’s just the physical side. Mentally it’s so difficult to do a two-kilometre race. Tough on your body and your mind, but you gotta get through it."

“It’s all focus. But when you see other boats next to you, it’s harder.
You can’t just focus on yourself.”

In preparing for a regatta, Charlotte and her team will train three times a week. They’ll spend their time on the water, paddling around eight to ten kilometres a session. Charlotte digs the hard training.

“You’re pushing yourself a lot to get your body used to it. Twenty of us, all in the water. The boats normally weigh a hell of a lot too, they’re very heavy.”

And if that wasn’t enough - they’re not the easiest to manoeuvre.

“They don’t move well in the water either, not smooth at all.”

Despite this, when starting off a race, Charlotte says her crew can get the boat up to fifteen kilometres an hour for a little burst at the start.

To be a Dragon Boater, your back, shoulders and core need to be as built up as possible. This is where the issues can arise. Back pain, especially lower back pain can be debilitating to any athlete. Shoulders need to be warmed up with diligent prehab to avoid the pitfalls of instability or loss of function.

Due to the nature of the sport, imbalances can form. Athletes do need to be aware of this and work to counteract the one-sided nature of paddling. If you’re focusing on your left side the entire time and that’s all you’re working on, your right side might deteriorate and the balance of muscles can shift and warp.

If you’re a paddler on the left side, work on strengthening your right side as well, or occasionally shift positions in the boat and swap sides. This will help address imbalances and create a balanced, stable body.

Due to the nature of the sport, with rotations in the core and the trunk and also the repeated overhead movements of the paddle, athletes need to work on a few things.

Hip stability, core strength and glute strength can offset some of the issues that may arise from being seated for too long. Adding in some exercises that stimulate these areas like banded squats, can reduce the risk of developing back pain. Also, bird-dogs can help to stimulate the core under pressure and are a lot more forgiving on the lower back than other conventional ab work like situps.

Myovolt between races is a gigantic help. My back can seize up if I’m out of the water too long so it helps with that.”

With the shoulder, work to stretch and strength the rear delts and stretch out the chest. Using a band to work the rotator cuff and working on overhead stability will be beneficial to any Dragon Boat athlete. Use lighter weights, with more reps, to help the shoulder adapt with time under tension and create a stronger group of muscles around the shoulder capsule.

Myovolt can also help to address sore muscles and prepare the body for strenuous exercise. Charlotte has been using Myovolt as a supplement to her training and has seen fantastic results. Not only that, but she’s been recommending it to others who are also finding it helps a lot.

“I’ve used it and given it to a few girls who have shoulder issues or other injuries. We use it to warm up and make sure between races that we’re not tightening up too much. My back can seize up if I’m out of the water too long so it helps with that."

“I’ve recommended it a lot. One of the ladies liked it so much she just went out and bought one right away after her first session with it. People just enjoy using it.”

Myovolt comes in handy on race day in a major way. Dragon Boating isn't just a one and done, there are multiple races a day. Charlotte says the Myovolt is a big help in maintaining her performance through such a big event.

“On a typical regatta day like the South Islands or Nationals, you can have between eight to eleven races depending on what you’ve entered. It can be a lot to do in one day. So having Myovolt between races is a gigantic help.”

Even with Covid continuing to cancel events, Charlotte is keeping her head up and her team sharp. For her, it's all about the quiet nights on the river, the orchestra of drums, the sweep and the twenty oars powering through the water training for the next regatta.

In preparing for a regatta, Charlotte and her team will train three times a week. They’ll spend their time on the water, paddling around eight to ten kilometres a session. Charlotte digs the hard training.

“You’re pushing yourself a lot to get your body used to it. Twenty of us, all in the water. The boats normally weigh a hell of a lot too, they’re very heavy.”

And if that wasn’t enough - they’re not the easiest to manoeuvre.

“They don’t move well in the water either, not smooth at all.”

Despite this, when starting off a race, Charlotte says her crew can get the boat up to fifteen kilometres an hour for a little burst at the start.

To be a Dragon Boater, your back, shoulders and core need to be as built up as possible. This is where the issues can arise. Back pain, especially lower back pain can be debilitating to any athlete. Shoulders need to be warmed up with diligent prehab to avoid the pitfalls of instability or loss of function.

Due to the nature of the sport, imbalances can form. Athletes do need to be aware of this and work to counteract the one-sided nature of paddling. If you’re focusing on your left side the entire time and that’s all you’re working on, your right side might deteriorate and the balance of muscles can shift and warp.

If you’re a paddler on the left side, work on strengthening your right side as well, or occasionally shift positions in the boat and swap sides. This will help address imbalances and create a balanced, stable body.

Due to the nature of the sport, with rotations in the core and the trunk and also the repeated overhead movements of the paddle, athletes need to work on a few things.

Hip stability, core strength and glute strength can offset some of the issues that may arise from being seated for too long. Adding in some exercises that stimulate these areas like banded squats, can reduce the risk of developing back pain. Also, bird-dogs can help to stimulate the core under pressure and are a lot more forgiving on the lower back than other conventional ab work like situps.

“Myovolt between races is a gigantic help. My back can seize up if I’m out of the water too long so it helps with that.”

With the shoulder, work to stretch and strength the rear delts and stretch out the chest. Using a band to work the rotator cuff and working on overhead stability will be beneficial to any Dragon Boat athlete. Use lighter weights, with more reps, to help the shoulder adapt with time under tension and create a stronger group of muscles around the shoulder capsule.

Myovolt can also help to address sore muscles and prepare the body for strenuous exercise. Charlotte has been using Myovolt as a supplement to her training and has seen fantastic results. Not only that, but she’s been recommending it to others who are also finding it helps a lot.

“I’ve used it and given it to a few girls who have shoulder issues or other injuries. We use it to warm up and make sure between races that we’re not tightening up too much. My back can seize up if I’m out of the water too long so it helps with that."

“I’ve recommended it a lot. One of the ladies liked it so much she just went out and bought one right away after her first session with it. People just enjoy using it.”

Myovolt comes in handy on race day in a major way. Dragon Boating isn't just a one and done, there are multiple races a day. Charlotte says the Myovolt is a big help in maintaining her performance through such a big event.

“On a typical regatta day like the South Islands or Nationals, you can have between eight to eleven races depending on what you’ve entered. It can be a lot to do in one day. So having Myovolt between races is a gigantic help.”

Even with Covid continuing to cancel events, Charlotte is keeping her head up and her team sharp. For her, it's all about the quiet nights on the river, the orchestra of drums, the sweep and the twenty oars powering through the water training for the next regatta.