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Experience Day

Thames Dragons’ brand new “Experience Day” welcomes over 50 guest paddlers to the London Regatta Centre!

On Sunday 27th April, Thames Dragons welcomed over 50 new paddlers to its first “Experience Day”, a brand new taster event aimed at giving anybody who is keen to try out dragon boating, an introduction to the sport and to our team. 

Upon arrival, our guest paddlers were introduced to their dedicated “Ambassadors” (members of Thames Dragons allocated to each group as team leaders) who gave our guests  a quick introduction  to paddling techniques, followed by a thorough  warm up and safety briefing. Our excited (and maybe some slightly apprehensive) paddlers donned their buoyancy aids, grabbed their paddles  and jumped into 3 separate 40 foot dragon boats, each consisting of 10 rows of benches, two seats per bench.  After some lively “in boat” entertainment and last minute instructions from our helms, our paddlers pushed away from the dock and headed on their journey down a rather gusty Royal Albert Dock. 

Under an overcast sky, and in choppy water, the three boats rolled down the 2km race course, listening to instructions from our helms (and one lucky boat from our head coach Bill Keane!!), despite the roar of planes landing and taking off from the runway of London City Airport, which runs parallel to the waterway.  Synchronised paddling is paramount to engendering speed in a dragon boat, so with only a short time before the races started, every paddler had to quickly get to grips with paddling in unison, even though most had never met their paddling buddies  before.

After a few circuits of the Dock, the three boats eagerly lined up for the first 200m race – despite some paddlers only having entered a dragon boat for the first time 20 minutes  previously!    Cheered on by an audience of Thames Dragons Paddlers, our new paddlers set off in full race style, paddles plunging through the water, in time to our helms’ beat, steaming towards the finish line.

Over two races our new crews (presumably overcoming any achy arms and cramped legs) thundered down our 200m course, showing energy, gusto and determination to cross the finish line before the other crews.

Drifting back to the pontoon and staggering back onto dry land, our paddling guests looked smiley and revitalized by their invigorating experience – so much so many were eager to join us down our local pub to chat about dragon boat racing, events and races, and just to get to know us and each other better. Some well deserved drinks and refreshments were had, with many paddlers lasting well into the early evening... 

And as for us at Thames Dragons, we were really pleased to welcome so many new people to our venue at the LRC, and delighted to see so many of our guests really enjoy themselves. We are thrilled that so many expressed an interest in potentially joining us or at least in visiting us again to sample a full training session. It was lovely to meet them all and we really appreciate all the positive feedback we received. We look forward to seeing many of our guests again soon! 

As we made so many new friends, we will be holding similar events soon.  Please watch this space, or contact,  or alternatively Sarah McBride ( 07811339936) or Peter  Li  ( for further information.

If you would like to join a training session we train on Sunday mornings and (from April) on Tuesday evenings. Please do contact us, and see our website for further details regarding training session times; www.

For more photos, please see our Facebook page:

Plus see what some of our guests thought...

“Fun and really nice people” (Amanda)

“leaders were engaging – made it a lot of fun” (Sydney)

“Great intro” (Ally)

“Amazing experience!!! I can’t swim and in spite of that I loved it!!! THANKS!!!....It was perfect!!” (Olga)

“Thanks! Great afternoon – love it!” (Deb)

“Very friendly people, lots of fun.” (Sarah)

“All crew very enthusiastic and fun” (Olga)

“So much fun - great coaching too!” (Grace)