Race Report: Sports Hub SDBA Dragon Boat Century

Some photos from our first race of the year on March 11! Our boat made it into the semifinals. While our seniors crew landed 4th place in the grand finals.

  • Team: Filipino Dragons (Singapore)
  • Length: 100 meters
  • Venue: Sports Hub Waterfront
  • Team Boats: Four (3 mixed open, 1 mixed seniors)
  • Placement: 4th in the Grand Finals (Seniors Crew), 1 mixed crew in the semis

We started the new training year off with sprints (our usual bread and butter is 500-meters and 200/250-meters). This was the inaugural 100-meter sprint under the Sports Hub and SDBA banners. Normally the first race of the year is the SAVA Sprints but that event has been postponed to May.

I think we were pretty strong given that there were many new faces on the team. The competition was tough. There were no separate categories for the international business community (expats).

On a personal level, this was the first race I did not sit as a reserve. The captains/coach gave me a chance to paddle in every heat our small boat competed in. I think I also competed in every heat possible during last year’s Singapore River Regatta (SRR), but I was assigned as part of the FDS-SAVA Crew.

I felt I gave my best during this race. On the boat were former team captains… the pressure was there. But I was determined to give what I could give.

Photos from SDBA

9 Reasons I Love Dragon Boating

Dragon boating can be a tough sport that builds you physically, mentally, and emotionally. For me, it is about trying to be strong in all three.

There are wonderful resources for new dragon boat paddlers. I recommend visiting Paddle Chica, Dragonboat MVP, and Eugephemisms for plenty of inspirational stories.

After paddling for two years, I’ve come up with my 9 reasons to love dragon boating.

1. It builds your strength.

When you have a teammate encourage you to LIFT HEAVIER, you really do lift heavier. Nakakahiya kasi lol. So you keep trying. You keep lifting. Until bit by bit you can see yourself lifting heavier. What you couldn’t do before with heavy weights… it’s suddenly possible. Consistent training required!

2. It improves your endurance.

A few years ago, I used to get tired easily after doing the simplest kind of jogging. But with paddling (and running regularly in short distance races), I noticed my endurance improve. I find myself running further and faster. It feels great!

3. It enables networking opportunities.

Joining a team means you get to meet all sorts of people, FAST. In the past two years, I have met interior designers, teachers, architects, engineers, and aircraft mechanics. From casinos to telecom stores. It is great to meet people from different industries. This allows you to connect with each other. Job openings, rentals…

4. It makes you more “social”.

Not only do you get to socialize with your teammates (and bond with them over a beer or hard drinks especially after a race), you also get to meet people from other teams. In the Singapore case, the dragon boat community stretches across corporations, schools, and expatriate teams. Other expat teams organize events which give you the opportunity to network (see No. 3) and to socialize.

5. It saves you money from an expensive gym membership.

Gym memberships in Singapore are pricey. I feel it’s meant for people serious about bodybuilding or cross-training. Joining a dragon boat team is cheaper and worth it. In our team alone you get four trainings each week. At the swimming pool, on land, and in the water. You gain experiences and memories for less than 300 SGD in a year.

6. It allows you to face your fears.

I had stupid fears like “removing my shirt at the pool” (insecure about my body) or “fear of the deep water”. But you realize that these are really just hindering you from achieving your own goals. Who cares? These teammates will see you without a shirt, ANYWAY. And they don’t care. What matters is if you paddle and strive to improve your form. Scared of the water? You have a PFD or a personal flotation device. It’s not so bad!

7. It brings out your competitive side.

This can work both ways. It can be negative when you compare yourself to others. Honestly, I never had a “competitive side” until I joined the team. Joining a dragon boat team is great to give you direction and to help you gauge where you are towards achieving your goals. It is important to add that it is a competition with YOURSELF. Not with another teammate (some people make that mistake!). It is about striving to be the BEST VERSION of yourself.

8. It gives you a nice tan and a better-looking physique!

Pale skin is boring. LOL

9. It makes your wardrobe easy-to-manage.

Half of your wardrobe is suddenly dry-fit! And easy to pack!

These are some of the things I love about joining a dragon boat team. What excites you about joining a new sport like dragon boating?

FDS August 2015 Trainings

The team is training for the PA Dragonboat Challenge (Aug. 30) and AustCham 10KM Race (Sept. 5). Because of the 10km race, our program this past month is on building endurance.

I’ve also frequented the gym more often this past month to make up for not being able to gym back in June and July.

Here are some of our recent attendance photos for land training, pool training, and water training.


FDS Trainings in prep for AustCham 10KM

Tuloy ang trainings!

We are preparing for the AustCham 10KM race. It is a unique local race in Singapore that runs that long! We usually compete in standard 200-500 meter races. This will be a test of endurance and determination.

Our training schedule so far has been standard (pool, land, and water training). By standard I mean… we haven’t had additional or supplement trainings in the past two weeks. I think the training committee will be adding more trainings on top of the standard four times weekly. Of course the program each training is focused on building endurance.

pool training attendance (july 28 and aug 4)


What dragon boating means to me

Nine months of dragon boating.

I’ve seen improvements in my endurance and physique. When I first started, I would stop halfway during a 10-minute warmup drill. I would give up and start questioning myself, “Bakit ko ba ito ginagawa?”. I would look at my teammates with both envy and admiration. “Ang gagaling nila.”

With my physique, I no longer feel like the lanky pale-skinned guy I was before. I love my tan. I love it so much that when I see a cute guy with pale skin on the train, I frown. Ang boring siguro ng buhay niya (JUDGEMENTAL AGAD?!) Ayaw niya mag-paaraw. Siguro all he does is shop, gym, and stay indoors. In the past nine months, I get turned on by athleticism. Yung tipong kasama mo ang mga conscious sa health. People who challenge themselves and encourage others to reach their physical goals.

Physically, I feel slightly slightly toned. I still have tummy fat and average arms. Sa tingin ko, need lang mag gym and program to bulk up a bit. As for endurance, I am running farther and faster thanks to FDS training. I succeeded making personal best in 10km and 21.1km at the recent Sundown Marathon. Not as fast as my peers, but most definitely better than anything I’ve done before.

I may not have a firm chest, or have big biceps and triceps. Those are aesthetics I feel. What about substance? So many lean women on my dragon boat team… some even so petite and yet when they paddle, the water disappears. I’m so eager to gain strength. Even if I have tummy fat or little arms… Strength muna before aesthetics right?

Since dragon boating is a team sport, it helps when you hear encouraging remarks. I’ve had a fair share of pep talk from our training committee (mga kapitan), our coach (a former Philippine national team captain), and various seniors. Minsan napapaisip ako… siguro I keep getting called out kasi pansin nila mukhang hirap na hirap na ako. They push me to improve myself. But I am prone to second-guessing myself. 😦

Which brings me to say that after nine months of dragon boating, the other issue apart from the need for strength training is mental training. Mind over matter, right?

I find that when I second-guess myself, when I start focusing on my weaknesses… I distract myself and I doubt and lose focus. Suddenly it’s my mind that slows me down. Our team captain would scream, “It’s all in the mind!”. I feel totoo nga. Lalo na when you are in a sprint or at the last 100 meters of a 500-meter race. With splash in your eyes, the adrenaline of competition, commands being yelled “LONGS! READY??? GO!!!!”.

I guess I’m writing this now kasi despite wanting to be the best version of myself for the team, I am still struggling. I still hop onto the boat asking myself if I can survive the training program. When I’m paddling for eight minutes with two more minutes to go… losing my form is frustrating!

From zero sports participation to joining one of the most competitive expat teams in Singapore, it’s been a wild challenge. I should heed to physical, brute strength development and stop overanalyzing myself. I need to control my mind and stop doubting. Lalo na dito sa dragon boating. This is something I am committed to.

Dragon boating is a team sport. As an individual within a team, the greatest challenge I feel is to defeat self-doubt and to push myself beyond what is safe and comfortable.


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