The Event

The Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper's Dragon Boat Day is a well established, annual charity fund raising event held alongside the River Thames in Abingdon (map of the location).

This year's event, sponsored by Alere Toxicology, will take place on Sunday 7th September 2014. Races will start around 10.30am and continue throughout the day, finishing late afternoon.

What is Dragon Boat racing?

Dragon Boat racing is an ancient Chinese tradition over 2000 years old and is one of Britain's most competitive water sports. It's a great way to raise money and it's spectacular, colourful, exciting and fun!

No experience or pre-event training required!

What is a Dragon Boat?

A team paddling a Dragon Boat

A Dragon Boat is a 40 foot long narrow boat, decorated with a Chinese dragon head and tail, and propelled by a crew of 16 paddlers who are kept in rhythm by a drummer. An experienced member of the event organisation crew (Dragon Boat Events) steers the boat and ensures that everyone has a fun but safe time on the water.

Who takes part?

Dragon Boat racing attracts a wide range of teams - from local companies, day centres, schools and colleges, pre-school groups, emergency services, churches, health and fitness centres as well as groups of friends and family who are fundraising for a specific cause.

Teams and Races

Teams racing in a Final

Teams are made up of at least 17 people (16 people to paddle the boat, plus one drummer). Teams can change their crew between races so that more people can have a go. Each team is given full safety instructions and a short practice before the races.

All equipment is provided, boats, paddles, life jackets etc., and the whole event is organised with safety in mind.

Teams will race each other in a number of heats throughout the day and the fastest teams will then compete in the final. The winning team will be presented with medals and a trophy at a prize giving ceremony at the end of the day.


A Dragon Boat team in fancy dress

Each team is to raise money for charity through sponsorship. The target is to raise £2000 per team, with one third of the money raised going to the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper's charity fund and two thirds to the team's nominated charity.

Some of the organisations that have benefitted from Rotary Dragon Boat Day include:

Cancer Research
Macmillan Cancer Support
Outward Bound Trust
Children in Touch
Rain Edge UK
Dept of Urology Oxford
Sobell House
Helen & Douglas House
Maggie's Centre @ The Churchill
The Felix Fund
Blackbird Leys Youth Programme
Oxford Cancer Centre
South & Vale Carers Centre
Help for Heroes
KEEN (Kids enjoy exercise now)
St Laurence Primary School
British Heart Foundaton
Micro Anopthalmic Children's Society
RAF Benevolent Fund
British Red Cross
Japanese Red Cross
Victim Support
The Brain Trust
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust
Windmill School Association
St Dunstan's
Practical Action

Charities supported by the Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper

The Rotary Club of Abingdon Vesper supports a broad range of projects both in the local community and internationally. One third of monies raised by teams competing in Rotary Dragon Boat Day will go towards such projects.

Community projects include canal Barge trips where the Club hires a specially adapted barge for four weeks every year to give an opportunity for many local groups to have a day out; offering transport support to the Stroke Club; working closely with the Abingdon Bridge, South and Vale Young Carers; and taking groups of disadvantaged local youngsters on a Rotary Kids Out Day.

International projects cover support for “Action for Children in Conflict” in Kenya; training “ENT” (ear, nose and throat) surgeons in Tanzania, to raise the number of qualified ENT doctors to six for the whole country; and a micro-credit scheme in Uganda supporting forty groups of farmers, with an average of twenty five farmers in each group.

The club also supports The Rotary Foundation, the charitable arm of Rotary International. We work with a global network of Rotarians who invest their time, money, and expertise into priorities such as eradicating polio and promoting peace. Grants provided by The Rotary Foundation empower Rotarians to undertake projects to tackle issues such as poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition, with sustainable solutions that leave a lasting impact.

Rotary International has been working hard for over twenty years to eradicate Polio throughout the world; it is now endemic in only three countries. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is matching £2 for every £1 raised by Rotary for this project. As with all other Rotary Clubs this is one of our priorities.

Dragon Boat racing movie

A movie of a Dragon Boat race

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