Monday, October 2, 2017

Now is the Best Time to Dragon Boat

Downtime is fun time when you learn something new

No big races coming up?

No problem!

We used the downtime to try new things.

Angeline and Bryan tried steering.

D-Jae and Wolverine tried setting the pace.

Today was an opportunity to grow and learn.

We ended the day with hearty German food. The team learned that sausages and good company help you recover after working out.

➡️ Now is the best time to try dragon boat racing. We have lots of time to work with you and show you how strong you can be. Email me at for free lessons.

- Alex, the Minister of Newbie Happiness

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fun Times and Fast Races at NorCal

Showing off our new jerseys--more on that later
Conely and Angeline gave it everything they got!

We played Pictionary between races. Guess what the answer is?
(It's "Coach Marynka")


Upper management strategy session

Our newbies, Senta and D-Jae, paddled like pros. 

Q: Is it safe to eat sushi from a food truck? A: You first, Alex

Captain Alex swears the Hello Kitty sticker wasn't his idea. 

Team dinner at Shandong. Delicious dumplings and hand-pulled noodles.
Dragon boat racing is a fun way to shape up and meet new people. Email me at now for free lessons!

- Alex, the Minister of Newbie Happiness

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dragon Boat Success Stories: D-Jae's First Race

D-Jae was nervous about racing... Then he tried it and loved it!

You never forget your first race with DieselFish! D-Jae just rocked his first race at the Northern California International Dragon Boat Festival. Here's what he had to say about it!

"I was so nervous, but once we got into our starting position, all my fears just went away... I got into that zone, and I just kept going."

If we can do it, so can you! Email me at for free dragon boat lessons.

-Alex, the Minister of Newbie Happiness

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Locker Room Talk | DieselFish Dragon Boat Team

The women of DieselFish explain why the future of dragon boat is female.
By Alex Ling

There has never been a better time for women to race dragon boats.

The International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF), the sport’s governing organization, recently decreed that mixed gender crews must be split evenly by gender.

That means that IDBF-affiliated teams like DieselFish can now race only if they have 10 men and 10 women in the boat. Previously, a mixed-gender crew could field a boat with only eight women.

The IDBF’s mandate has pushed dragon boat teams to do the right thing. Crews around the world are scrambling to recruit and train more women. More women now than ever are picking up paddles and racing.

DieselFish has always strived to get more women involved in our sport. We value our female members and treat them as equals. Over the years, we have promoted many women to prominent positions. Our current coach, treasurer and pace setters are female.

As part of our long-term, ongoing effort to promote dragon boat racing to women, a number of DieselFish’s female members got together to talk about dragon boat racing and the team. They were eager to share how the sport has improved their lives. Here are their thoughts—in their own words.

Angeline Mingfield: AM
Anna Koan: AK
Conely Chan: CC
Iris Fung: IF
Kathy Harsano: KH
Marynka Rojas: MR
Sonya Tetnowski: ST

Why are female paddlers in such demand right now?

MR: Teams have always struggled to recruit and retain female paddlers, but as to why–I have no idea. I fell in love with the sport the first time I paddled. In an effort to recruit more women paddlers, the IDBF instituted a new rule that coed teams must have at least 10 female paddlers. So even more so, female paddlers are highly valued!

ST: As with many other extra activities, women have other responsibilities with family that take up what little spare time most women have on a weekend. If they have children then games, meets, lessons and things that require them to prepare or transport family members. Just my opinion...

AK: I think the governing bodies for dragon boat paddling are trying to be more inclusive and make the sport more balanced, as evidenced by upping the minimum number of women required on a boat from eight to ten.

Why should women try dragon boat paddling?

MR: I’ve always been involved in some kind of sport ever since I was a kid. However, what I really love about dragon boat is that anyone can paddle. There’s a place in the boat for anyone, regardless of height, weight or fitness level. A petite woman under 5’ and a man 6’5” and everyone in between will all contribute to the success of the team.

AK: Women should try dragon boat paddling because it's fun! You don't have to be super crazy fit to start, and once you get the hang of it, it makes you feel like a badass.

KH: Some benefits to list: promoting physical fitness, strengthening of muscles in different areas of the body, improving your level of endurance, developing self confidence and taking pride about one’s personal goals, being part of a team that can be as good as men’s team and enjoying the female camaraderie.

ST: The joy of doing something maybe outside of their comfort zone. It is such a great feeling to be on the water, and feeling the wind your hair all while being disconnected for just that moment in time just feels wonderful.

CC: Dragon boat paddling is sport where you engage your arms, your legs, your core and your spirit. Not only is this a physical exercise, but the mind is challenged—what better way to conquer the challenge than to have teammates conquer it alongside with you?

IF: When you are on the water, surrounded by nature, you can breathe in fresh air. This will reduce stress. If you exercise, your body will release some kind of hormone that will make you happy and young at heart.

What do women add to dragon boat teams?

MR: While men have more muscle power, women contribute something even more valuable–excellent timing. Women seem to have a better sense of timing that keeps the boat in sync, the foundation for any dragon boat team.

KH: Competitiveness, organization, commitment and power.

ST: It is often surprising to hear that women are very competitive, but we like to win! And most women I know are not afraid to work for it. Women are great pace setters, and are not afraid to take on new challenges. They add balance, laughter and healthy competition!

Do you need to have certain body type or fitness level to paddle?

MR: That’s the beauty of dragon boat – anyone can do it! Because it’s such a great all around workout, paddlers really benefit from a sport that works your core, legs, and upper body as well as your cardio.

AK: Having a certain body type isn't really necessary. Having at least a moderate level of fitness helps when first starting out, as is true of most any sport. I personally started out at a fairly couch potato level; I will admit that the first couple of months were kinda rough for me, but things got easier the more I went to practice and the stronger I became through paddling.

IF: Anybody with two hands can do it. If you are not fit, this is the right place to go. It is better to paddle than to go to the gym because when you’re out on the water, you get to see wild birds, sea lions, baby sharks and enjoy perfect California weather.

Why do you paddle?

MR: I haven’t had much paddle time this year because I’ve been coaching more than paddling. However, I do love the rush of being on the water, feeling the boat surge as the entire team paddles in a steady rhythm, and the excitement of crossing the finish line.

AK: I paddle for a few reasons. It's my primary form of exercise. It's an interesting hobby to have; I like telling people that I do dragon boat paddling because it sounds and looks cool, haha. Paddling also makes me feel powerful, both on and off the water; whenever I have that combination of perfect form, strong stroke, and wind blowing my hair, I feel like a viking warrior charging into battle. And then after practice, the soreness reminds me that I worked hard and that my body is becoming stronger.

KH: I paddle because it’s a good way to stay fit, get out of my comfort zone and try a new sport activity. Also, I enjoy having a new circle of friends from different professions.

CC: The three “F” pillars: food, fun and fitness. I love working hard and paddling with my teammates. Then immediately after, going out to eat my heart out with the rest of the DB fam.

AM: I paddle for my team because I love DieselFish. Some of my female teammates are older than me. But they are all wonderful individuals. I feel like I'm always welcomed and can easily relate to their jokes and moments. I also love paddling over running any day.

How does DieselFish support its female members?

MR: I have raced with other teams, but I love the camaraderie within DieselFish. We truly are a family and support each other, not just the women. We cheer each other on, celebrating each other’s accomplishments, as a team and as individuals. We truly show each other Fishie Love!

KH: In terms of support, I don’t feel there’s any difference between female or male. Being a new member just for several months, it’s truly about being part of a team. You have the support from both the male and/or female members mentally and in learning paddling techniques.

ST: Because there are several females on the team, they tend to look out for each other. They also provide support if a member is having a challenge, both personal and training wise. Checking in to see if we are doing OK. I appreciate all the members of the team, both male and female, they seem to be very supportive of all members of the team. They made me feel so welcome on the team.

CC: DieselFish treats all members regardless of age, gender orientation and ethnicity the same. We train together as one team.

IF: The team understands the advantage of having female members. That is why our pace setters are females. Also, we have a kick-ass female coach.

What is your favorite DieselFish moment?

MR: I have many, but for this season it has to be our Lunar New Year dim sum lunch. It has become a tradition for us to get together before the season starts. It’s so great to see everyone and catch up on what happened during the offseason. Fishies bring their families, and even those who aren’t actively paddling still join us.

KH: When experienced team members shares paddling tips, encouragement and praise. It adds to boost your self confidence and helps you to strive and be a better paddler each week at practice. The sense of humor from team members makes you forget the pain, soreness or aches on your body. It’s a whole package moment, a positive and supportive environment and sense of humor.

CC: The final race at the Northern California Dragon Boat Race 2016. It was a bit rough in the beginning as our crew was new and still adjusting. Mistakes were identified during the debrief session and the crew immediately responded and began making changes. We saw major improvements by the second race—but the final race was really when the team gelled. Everyone contributed to the success of the final race and it shows how much can be achieved by putting a little heart into it.

AM: We paddled at the Nor Cal race in 2016. We chanted “FOR BEER!” during the whole last chunk of the race. It was the funniest thing I had have ever heard in all my years of paddling.

DieselFish believes the IDBF’s 10 women rule is positive step forward for dragon boat racing. The sport needs more female representation. We have always encouraged women to attend our training sessions. DieselFish offers three free practices to newcomers.

You can contact the team’s captain, Alex, at to begin your dragon boat experience. You will get fitter, take on a new challenge and become part of a supportive community.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Save Your Teammates! | DieselFish Dragon Boat Team

This weekend’s weather is killer. Here’s what to do if your crew overheats.

Paddlers, be careful at practice this weekend!

Record-breaking temperatures are expected across Northern California.

In response, the National Weather Service issued this graphic that shows you the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Please watch your teammates for signs of overheating. Let's take care of each other out there.

- Alex, the Minister of Newbie Safety

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tough Love Coaching | DieselFish Dragon Boat Team

We will appreciate it one day...

Our new coach showed us the RIGHT way to do our exercises.

She's tough but fair...and so cute!

Dragon boat racing is a fun way to get in shape. Email me at for free lessons!

- Alex, the Minister of Newbie Happiness

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Signs of Mutiny? | DieselFish Dragon Boat Team

No! Signs of POWER!

The coach went away for a business trip and left me in charge. So, this happened…

I think I got cocky because the team paddled so well today. They nailed their starts and nearly flung me overboard during the power sequences.

Our newcomers are steadily improving as well. They are paddling longer without resting and helping to push the boat through the water. It just takes some practice.

(If I don’t post a blog piece next week, call the cops and tell them the coach did it.)

If we can do it, so can you! Email me at for free dragon boat lessons!

- Alex, the Minister of Newbie Happiness