Every year, Devon Air Ambulance Dragonboat Festival attracts supporters from across the whole county and beyond. The majority of our participants are our corporate and business supporters, who in turn represent not only colleagues, but friends and family alike; people united by our cause. Others are spectators who are there to cheer on the competitors and enjoy a fun day on the quayside, which is one of the most animated and historical parts of Exeter. 

The race itself is no mean feat. No matter how competitive the team (and there is some serious competition), getting everyone to work effectively together can take practice and preparation. Here's a short rundown of preparation tips to help you feel ready for the big day.

Stay hydrated

Heat exhaustion is really horrible. Not only do you feel tired and weak, but you can become disorientated, nauseous, or you may even pass out. Minimise the chances of falling ill by drinking plenty of water in the run up to the race and during practices. Aim for half a cup of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise you undertake. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and energy drinks as these don't assist hydration. Keep your clothing loose-fitting and light too.

It helps to do some cardio exercise in the run up to get your body used to handling hotter temperatures and greater exertion. If you are training for this event then train in movements more than focusing on particular muscles to get the body used to what you are asking of it.

Practise breathing

Rowing well is all in the rhythm, and like any form of labour or repetitive activity, managing the breath can make the difference between feeling wiped out and feeling in control. Here's a whole article on it.

Practise the breathing techniques that help you to manage the pace as well as your body.

Apply your focus

The most successful dragon boat teams operate as one entity. The commands issued by the drummer will direct, motivate and inspire your team. Focus on the middle of the boat, not the water or the paddles, and try not to be distracted by the cheering hoards!

Eat for energy

As you prepare for the festival, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Fatty, stodgy foods can feel like they are slowing your body down as they are hard to digest. Healthier foods convey the goodness to your blood more easily and can help you feel energetic and race-ready!

With the kinds of rigorous movements you'll be demanding of yourself it's probably not a good idea to tuck into a big fried breakfast on the day, rather opt for something that helps you release energy more slowly - like porridge with dried fruits and seeds.

Have fun

The main thing to remember is that the festival is for a good cause and it is great fun! Competition is just one element, and whether it's personal competition or against the other teams, you can be sure to enjoy great team spirit and enormous support from spectators. So enjoy yourself!

We welcome interest from sponsors of the event. You can read more about the opportunity here.