The Dragons are Coming

What began 2,300 years ago, is 46-feet long, and involves you and 19 of your best friends on the Ohio River?

The King’s Daughters 2015 Dragon Boat race, of course!

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Under the leadership of their new Executive Director Jamie Remp, a new and exciting event is coming to the Ohio Valley this summer! On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 29, 25 teams will compete on the Ohio River in the inaugural Wheeling Dragon Boat race to raise funds for the King’s Daughters Child Care center kitchen.

What is it?

Dragon boat racing is said to have begun in China over 2,300 years ago and consists of 20 paddlers, one LOUD rhythmic drummer, and a steerer. In other words, you and your closest friends or coworkers racing other teams up the Ohio River. After a practice run earlier in the week, teams will gather on the 29th to race in timed heats, attempting to qualify for the finals. Your team will race in authentic 46-foot Chinese Dragon Boats, from Heritage Port, toward the historic Suspension Bridge.

As you can see, there is much more to it than a great day on the water. There are different and interesting ways to experience the sport for both team members and spectators. Whether you’ve paddled in a festival or regatta, or you paddle regularly in a dragon boat, you feel connected to it. That’s the beauty of it; from the moment you pick up a paddle, you’ll love dragon-boat racing!

Dragon boat logo

Come race day, all paddlers play specific roles. They sit next to each other and against the gunnel to balance the boat as they paddle. The strokers occupy the front three seats of the boat, while the fourth seat is a transition place where, ideally, the paddlers have rhythm and power. Then, seats four, five, and six consist of the “engine room,” where the largest and strongest team members sit. The last four rows of a dragon boat are filled with strong paddlers who are also typically shorter and able to paddle faster. Paddlers at this location in the dragon boat are considered “rockets” because the water is moving faster to them, from the first 14 seats since they’re scooping water back.

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You’ll be taught to watch up the middle of the boat and two seats across. When that paddler has his or her paddle up in the air ready to engage the water, it’s the cue for you to get your paddle up as well. While the drummer keeps the rhythm for most of the boat, it can be difficult to hear on race day. It’s also a very visual sport, and if everyone is watching the right person, magic absolutely can happen in a dragon boat. Teams have to follow the strategy and then execute; the team members in the front must paddle in perfect timing as an example for the back half of the boat. When the power from the middle is mixed with the speed and capabilities of the athletes in the back, a dragon boat can glide quickly through the water like a bullet.

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How do I get involved?

Easy! Grab 20 of your closest friends, or organize through your work, and sign up!

King’s Daughters has secured the boats for the race and can accommodate 25 total teams. So far, 20 boats are spoken for, so don’t wait long to get in on the excitement! To join in the fun, complete this registration form to secure your spot!

Each team needs:

  • 20 paddlers and one LOUD drummer (at least 8 people must be women)
  • Team Captains – each team needs one point person to organize the team and coordinate with King’s Daughters, and a co-captain to help along the way
  • Registration – each boat is $1,250, and it is due with registration on Aug. 29

Once you’re registered, it’s time to get creative! Every team needs a name, so why not make it awesome? At the event, you can bring your own tent to hang out in during the day. Something tells me we’re going to see some interesting designs on race day.

What is King’s Daughters?

KDCCC has been a Wheeling institution for 125 years, providing licensed child care to those from six weeks old though Pre-k. On average, 80 children call King’s Daughters home, and its mission is to provide quality services that are affordable to families of all income levels. The center began in 1889 when a local branch of the International Order of The King’s Daughters and Sons organized a daycare center in Wheeling for working women.  At that time, employment for women in the Ohio Valley was primarily in three occupations:  hand rolling leaf tobacco into stogies (Marsh-Wheeling Tobacco Company), production of yard goods (J.L. Stifel & Sons), and sorting and packing hand-blown glassware in factories along the Ohio River.

With the continuing involvement of local members of The King’s Daughters organization, the agency is governed by a community-based volunteer Board of Directors and employs a staff of 20.

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We’d love to see you out on race day! To sign up or get more information you can contact Jamie at the center by either calling 304-233-1114 or via email at

Photos Courtesy Jamie Remp and KDCCC Facebook