About the day:
From 08:30 onwards, teams starting arriving courtesy of the "off site parking" shuttle bus service organised especially to emphasise the festival's 'green' low carbon ethos and to help keep Sandy Lane and the surrounding residential areas clear of competitor and spectator cars. Off site parking was arranged with M&S Bank on the Chester Business Park, who kindly allowed use of their staff car park for all drivers looking to attend the Chester Festival. The organisers of the Chester Dragon Boat Festival would like to thank M&S Bank for their generous assistance and support in providing the parking for everyone.
This year's teams were a mixture of previous competitors and new entries, all looking forward to the day to come. The event started at 10:00 with an introduction from the festival organiser followed by the first teams being called up for the photo-shoot and then safety briefing. All team members were required to attend a safety briefing (even if they are not racing in the first race) and once the briefing has been completed, the team members at that briefing were issued with Race the Dragon wrist bands. Only people wearing these wrist bands were allowed into the dragon boats.
Once loaded, the instructors gave further 'on the water' training on the way up to the start so that by the time teams get to the start and lined up for their first race, they had a very good idea on what is required. The best training is by actually doing and so once the first race was completed, teams could both benefit from their experience and also by watching other races and comparing techniques.
Race The Dragon recognise the progressive nature of dragon boat racing and so take each team's single fastest time only from the three qualifying races for Grand Final qualification purposes. This meant each team had a maximum opportunity to improve - and such is the progressive nature of dragon boat racing that by Round three, returning teams and complete novices are often competing at an equal level.
The race format throughout the day was a series of three-boat races with the exception of races 15, 16 & 17, which were especially organised "Head-to-Head" races for the three company's who each had two teams entering. "Head-to-Head" racing was a concept first introduced to UK dragon boat racing by the organiser of the Chester festival, who recognised that many company's and organisations would welcome this opportunity for a 'competition within a competition'.