Canadian coaches teach locals new tricks

No matter how schooled a Dragon Boat captain thinks he is, there is always room for improvement.

And it is never too late to teach old dragons new tricks, according to two Canadian Dragon Boat pros that brought their expertise to Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on two consecutive weekends in June.

Dragon Boat champions and team captains Konrad Doerrbecker and Doug Tutty raced down from Toronto with the expressed purpose of passing along their time and race-tested knowledge of the seafaring beasts from Hong Kong.

“In New York, there’s not a lot of expertise in terms of race patterns,” said Doerrbecker. “There’s great culture and corporate support, but their racing expertise is not at the level of some of the other countries.”

The pair has been bringing their coaching prowess to Queens for five years and with each lesson, they stress the uniqueness of their sport.

“With hard work, adults who have never competed before can enter and in a few weeks or months can become professional and end up representing their country at international events,” said Tutty. “You can’t do that with basketball or any other sport that I’m aware of.”

Doerrbecker and Tutty know a thing or two about success on the water. The Canadian coaches have paddled their way to numerous international championships between them, with Doerrbecker alone holding over 30 International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) gold medals.

They are also currently coaching teams with an international pedigree. Doerrbecker paddles and coaches the Canadian Senior Dragon Boat club, while Tutty captains the Canadian Women’s National Team. Tutty’s team will be in town to race for glory at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York (HKDBF-NY) on August 7 and 8.

“The best way to increase your chances of winning is to develop some kind or racing strategy,” said Tutty. “Teams need to develop their technique and make their movements as efficient as possible. They don’t want to waste any energy.”

With a coaching philosophy stressing hard work and team synchronicity, Doerrbecker commanded a crowd of established Dragon Boat captains during his clinic on the banks of Meadow Lake. Armed with a laptop, he showed video of paddling techniques and told of other trade secrets that could prove invaluable to dragon boaters.

“We’re here to bring a new level to the racers and a critical mass of expertise,” he said. “Being muscle bound doesn’t guarantee any measure of victory in this sport. If your technique and cadence isn’t up to the task, you are going to get blown out of the water.”

Both coaches agreed that while it is a competition, it is also useful in team building exercises.

“Teams have to be in stroke,” said Tutty. “That’s why it had become the corporate event that it has. Businesses come down for a couple of hours and end up with a great team building event.”


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