Dragon Boating

Dragon boating continues to be the fastest growing water sport in the world!

This program is a team activity that allows you to get away from it all without leaving the city – a total body workout AND the camaraderie and support of a great group of women. 

Become a Member

Becoming a member is free and a required first step to taking part in our programs.

Learn More

Dragon boating is a team sport suitable for all fitness levels, requiring no prior experience, and provides all necessary equipment. As we paddle together, beginners can take breaks as needed and stay with the group. Our coaches, captains, and experienced paddlers from Survivor SAKE support and teach each other. A full boat comprises 20 paddlers, a tiller, and a caller.

Our team, Survivor SAKE, paddles as part of the Seattle SAKE Paddling Club. New paddlers can participate in three practices before deciding to become SAKE members, with an annual membership fee of $100. TSNW offers full scholarships to Survivor SAKE if needed—please contact Beatriz at operations@teamsurvivornw.org for more information.

Racing is an exciting part of the dragon boating program. We work hard at our practices to build the endurance and technique required to work as a synchronized unit.  Those who want to participate in races will be expected to attend the majority of the practice sessions.

Races are all-day events, usually on Saturdays. Most of the races are in the Puget Sound area, but we often select one overnight race each season at a bigger festival in locations such as Portland, Vancouver, or Victoria. All races are optional, but encouraged.

Intensity Level

moderate to high

Moderate to High


Safety Prerequisites:

The Dragon Boat program is open to everyone at any stage of treatment or recovery. However, some abilities/skills are required for your safety and the group’s safety.  Here are guidelines to help you decide if/when this program is right for you.

The Dragon Boat is a team sport that involves synchronized paddling. No prior experience is required, and regular attendance is not mandatory. Our dedicated coaches prioritize your safety and teach safe paddling techniques to prevent any injuries. Workouts are 2 hours long with planned rest periods, and beginners are encouraged to rest whenever they feel the need. Each person on the boat is expected to practice proper techniques and adhere to boat safety procedures. 

Annual Capsize Drill

Participation in an annual capsize drill is required. Dragon boats are very sturdy canoes, but we must be prepared to keep everyone safe in the unlikely event of a capsize. The drill is conducted by the Steer or another team member who is fully versed in all safety procedures. Paddlers will need to:

1) Swim and/or tread water for up to 15 minutes in 40-70-degree water while wearing a PFD.

2) Hear and respond to commands from up to 40 feet away. Follow directions from the safety leader to turn the boat upright, re-enter the boat, bail out the water, and assist others with entry.

3) Use upper and lower body strength to re-enter the boat (we teach a reasonably easy way to do this).

4) Remain calm under pressure. Unexpected lake water entry in challenging conditions (waves/wind) could occur.

Practice Days/Times

Practices are currently held twice a week in Seattle and are led by fabulous volunteer coaches and captains with many years of Dragon Boating experience. 

  • Saturdays (year round) 8:30 AM 
  • Tuesdays (Spring and Summer) 5:45 PM 
Steps to Join

For this program, you must be “cleared” by both TSNW and Club SAKE. For Team Survivor:
(1) Click on “Become a Member” in the purple box above to fill out a current membership form (free).
(2) Click on “Join Dragon Boating” above to complete the process for TSNW.
For Club SAKE:
(3) You will need to register on the Club SAKE website as a visitor and agree to the terms of the SAKE insurance liability waiver: https://www.clubsake.com/home/.

Health Protocol

Survivor SAKE participants will follow established TSNW and SAKE health protocols. Please refer to the following guidelines when considering whether to attend:

  • Please do not attend practice if you have any of the following symptoms, even if you have tested negative for COVID: fever or chills, cough unrelated to allergies, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, muscle or body aches, decreased sense of smell or taste, unusual fatigue, uncharacteristic headache, rash or discoloration of fingers/toes
  • Must be 10 days since onset of symptoms AND no current symptoms (without medication) to attend
  • IF EXPOSED TO COVID: Must be 5 days since exposure and symptom-free (without medication) to attend practice. Must wear mask until day 10. Because Covid can be asymptomatic, TSNW encourages testing at day 5 after exposure, regardless of symptoms.
  • POSITIVE RESULT FOR COVID: Must be 10 days since positive test AND no current symptoms (without medication). 
  • Please be respectful of teammates’ choices to wear a mask or not.
RSVP For Each Practice

Paddlers need to RSVP for each practice on the club website the day before practice: https://www.clubsake.com/home/. Your RSVP allows coaches and captains to plan a great practice; at times, we may take out a smaller boat or plan to take out two boats depending on how many people RSVP. If you have RSVP’d and are not able to attend, a text message to  both captains is required. If you forget to sign up, you can also text the coaches the day before practice to see if they are looking for paddlers to fill cancellation spots. You will not be able to get on the boat if you show up without RSVPing. 

Getting On the Boat

We suggest you plan to get to practice early, especially during the summer when parking can be tricky. If you are running late, please text both captains to let them know. If you are just a few minutes late you will miss the warmups, but late by 10-15 minutes, there is a good chance that you will miss the boat. Communication with the captains is key!

If weather conditions are not favorable, we will cancel. We try to make these decisions prior to people driving all the way to Leschi but it is not always possible. Bring a pair of sneakers just in case as sometimes if we can’t paddle, we will take a brisk walk together by the lake. 

While Dragon Boating is not really a contact sport, we do sit two ladies to a bench and some of the benches are a tight squeeze! You can expect that you will be rubbing elbows, touching legs and at times in very close proximity with your bench mate. When you exit the boat, we have a process that involves a forearm-to-forearm connection to exit the boat. This is a safety procedure in place for all to exit gracefully without losing balance. 


The club provides PFDs and paddles. Our captains/coaches will give you information on how to purchase your own should you decide to do so after falling in love with paddling!

What to Wear
  • Fragrance-free products only (this includes deodorant, sunscreens, lotions, laundry detergent, etc). We have members whom are highly sensitive to fragrances.

  • Athletic gear that you can move in and layers to regulate body temp

  • Tights, tops, socks that are made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester, spandex, nylon, bamboo, wool are best.  (No cotton)

  • Closed-toe shoes with rubber soles like Keens are great.  A pair of sneakers or rain boots work just fine. 

  • Rain gear like a light jacket and rain pants are helpful.

  • Hat, sunglasses, gloves (gardening gloves work well).

  • When Coach Charlene is at practice, we will ask that you mask. We will give you notice of this, but it is always good to have a mask handy, just in case.

Thanks to our sponsor:

“I joined TSNW just a few weeks after I finished treatment. I felt so fragile and the women I met just understood what I been through. During my first class, they made me laugh about having no hair. I have been out of treatment for over 7 years now and am happy to say that I am stronger than I was before I was diagnosed. I am so proud to be on a Dragon Boat team with four women in their 80s who inspire me to keep at it so that I can have an old age and be like them. We don’t talk about having a positive attitude. The members just live it.”

- Lisa

TSNW Member

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