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Here We Go Again, the USDBF Accusing the ICF of Trying to Take Over Dragon Boat

June 1, 2009

Thanks to N. for forwarding me the IDBF Newsletter.  You can download a copy of it here: DBI_Apr_09.

Before I even opened it up, I just KNEW their would be some ICF/Dragon Boat USA bashing.

Have a look at Page 9 of the newsletter and you’ll find Bob McNamara’s perspective on the ICF (USACK/Dragon Boat USA) and the IDBF (USDBF) “controversy”.  Why did I put “controversy” in quotes?  Quite simply, the USDBF has manufactured this controversy.

Dragon Boat USA (part of USACK which is part of the ICF) came into existence to grow the sport – not overtake the USDBF.  To the dismay of the IDBF and USDBF, both entities can co-exist.

I am an officer of Dragon Boat USA and I have never heard anyone in any meeting say anything about trying to take over dragon boating (as McNamara alleges).  Dragon Boat USA is spearheaded by Dr. Howard Chen.  I am sure you all (at least the West Coast paddlers) know that Dr. Chen has done nothing but love and grow the sport.  It has never been about power with Dr. Chen.  Dr. Chen’s involvement with ICF/USACK/Dragon Boat USA parallels his charitable actions in the past.

Dr. Chen has done everything he can to grow the sport we love so much.  All Dragon Boat USA is trying to do is provide more resources for dragon boating – more races for paddlers to race in and more clinics to improve paddling technique (when was the last time you went to a USDBF-sanctioned clinic?).  I have no desire to overtake any organization.  I’m too busy and tired for that.

Dragon Boat USA does not require your allegiance to the cause (as McNamara does with the USDBF).  If you want to race at an ICF-sanctioned event, race it.  If you want to race in a USDBF race the following weekend, Dragon Boat USA doesn’t have a problem with that.  Paddle your brains out.  For McNamara to say, “Those who paddle and coach the sport in the U.S. owe allegiance to the USDBF…” (see Page 9 of newsletter) WTF?  What an utterly ludricous statement.

What has Bob McNamara done?  Well, need we even ask? Or maybe I should rephrase.  What has he done to positively affect the growth of our sport outside of the elite level that many of us may never attain (or actually have the desire to attain)?  For 99% of paddlers it’s about building the community at the corporate, recreational, and competitive levels – not necessarily the elite level.

Perhaps I am ignorant, but I’ve never seen any USDBF activities/services that promote dragon boat paddling at any level outside of the elite level.  I concede that our sport is growing but people at the grass roots level (people like Dr. Chen) are responsible for this – not the USDBF.  For sure, the USDBF (or McNamara) has nothing to do with dragon boat growth on the West Coast.  What did the USDBF do to get almost 100 crews to participate at last year’s Long Beach Dragon Boat Tournament?  Nothing.  Ask the participants what “USDBF” stood for, and I guarantee you 90% of them would have no idea.  The USDBF claiming responsibility for the growth of the sport is like an absentee father taking credit that his father-less son made it to the NBA.  I can’t speak for the East Coast, hell, now that I think about it, no one has given me authority to speak for the West Coast.  So I guess, I’m just speaking for myself.

McNamara’s contribution to growing dragon boat on the West Coast is conducting oc1 time trials for seats on the national team competing in Prague this year.  He’ll invite those that are good enough to join the team.  What does he do for those that didn’t make the cut?  Nothing.  Not even an email to those that didn’t make the team telling them that they suck.  Speaking of allegiance, do you think McNamara took only dragon boaters?  That would be a big NOPE.  He took mostly outrigger paddlers.  Why pledge allegiance to the USDBF and McNamara if he won’t pledge his allegiance to you?

For those of you that are confused – who has more integrity – the figure head for Dragon Boat USA (Dr. Chen) or the figure head of the USDBF (Bob McNamara)?  Dr. Chen wants to provide you more opportunities to dragon boat, McNamara is trying to guilt you into aligning yourself with the USDBF just because they’ve been around.  What McNamara fails to tell you is that his side kick and USDBF paddler/supporter is was also elected to serve for USACK.  Go figure.

Frankly, if I see a race that I want to race in, I could care less if it’s sanctioned by the USDBF, the ICF, or the Star Trek Federation.  If I want to race it, I will.

Fuck allegiance to the USDBF – or any organization for that matter.

Paddle on.


2006, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  ICF World Games, TeamUSA.   Who cares if this was an ICF event?  It was great racing.  Period.  It would have been great if it was a IDBF sponsored event.  At this moment, do you think these paddlers cared if this was an ICF or IDBF event – likely not.  This moment is what dragon boat is all about.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Todd permalink
    June 2, 2009 12:57 am

    Star Trek Federation? I LOL’d

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