Original document date:               25/08/2015

This version:                                       Version 1             Version date:                     25/08/2015

Reviewed:                                          23/04/2018         Next due for review:       30/04/2019


Camden Haven Dragon Boat Club is committed to ensuring the safety of members at all times. An important aspect of safety is the skill and knowledge of the sweep.


The Committee is responsible for ensuring this procedure is readily accessible by all members.

The Sweep team is responsible for regularly reviewing this procedure and recommending amendments as required.

The Sweep team is responsible for appointing a mentor to each new sweep.

The sweep mentor is responsible for following this procedure and accompanying guidelines


When a new sweep begins training the Sweep team will appoint a mentor to supervise them. The trainee sweep should be consulted and have input into the choice of their mentor.

Sweep mentors must have current L3 accreditation for at least two years and be an endorsed sweep within Camden Haven Dragons Inc for the season immediately prior to taking on the mentor role.

The mentor does not have to be in the boat with the trainee every time. However, there must be a L3, L4 or L5 sweep in the boat with the trainee every time they go on the water. The L3, L4 or L5 sweep is there to ensure the safety of the boat and crew are not compromised and to give the trainee feedback after the session.

The sweep mentor will use the Sweep Training Guidelines as the basis for preparing the trainee for endorsement.

Sweep training guidelines

NOTE: These guidelines were originally developed by the Kempsey/Macleay Dragon Boat Club. Permission is granted to adopt and adapt the guidelines provided recognition is given to the original developers.

Congratulations on your decision to become a sweep. Thank you from all the paddlers for your willingness to devote time and effort to learn these new skills to benefit the club as well as yourself.

These guidelines will be used with the DBNSW and AusDBF sweeping guidelines – these are constantly reviewed, and it is always good to read over the latest guidelines to stay up to date.

The guidelines presented here are to assist you in your preparation for your L2 test and to provide a sound basis to become a competent and confident sweep. By the separation of skills into specific modules it allows trainees to focus on a smaller set of skills at any one time.  Each sweep will need more attention on some skills than others and a trainee’s progress is monitored or adjusted by their mentor and other qualified sweeps.  This is to support trainees to gain a good level of proficiency and the confidence of the crews.

Trainees need to complete the three units to the satisfaction of their mentor before they will be recommended for assessment by the relevant DBNSW Sweep Coordinator.

Remember, at all times a L3, L4 or L5 sweep must be in the boat directly supervising the trainee sweep. Full responsibility for the boat remains with the supervising L3, L4 or L5 sweep.

Off water skills –need to be addressed;

  • Checking the boat – 2-way radio, tow rope, first-aid kit, bailers – etc
  • Check sweep oar and fittings
  • Check weather conditions and forecasts
  • Check water conditions and potential hazards


Core requirements – good practice to use at all sessions

These must be adhered to every time you are in charge of a crew;

  • Announce your name and title
  • Do a head count
  • Do a safety talk
    • Mention buddy system, including provision for lone paddlers, sweep and drummer
    • Procedure in case of capsize, emergency stops
  • Use the correct terminology
  • Listen to and take instruction from your trainer sweep


Unit 1- Mastery of the Boat


The sweep trainer will call all boat control commands in the boat; you will concentrate on boat control only

  • Feel the balance of the boat
  • Take boat forward in a straight line
  • Reverse boat in a straight line – should be done slowly with sweep oar out of the water
  • Turn boat right and left
  • Slow the boat
  • Stop the boat
  • Paddles flat, change sides whilst feeling confident and balanced


Unit 2 – Intermediate skills and finding your voice

You will begin to call commands for boat control only. The coach gives coaching/paddling commands.

  • Practice voice projection – strong clear calls – think about making your calls in the sequence needed
  • Remember to use the correct terminology
  • Load boat and reverse from mooring
  • Return boat to shore and unload safely
  • Balance boat on water
  • Area awareness i.e. other river users
  • Wake control
  • Stop boat close to marker buoy
  • Longer straight runs forward and reversing
  • Draw water, drift control, hold water
  • Change sides – stationary; on the fly
  • Emergency Stops


Unit 3 Becoming Race ready

You will be making all boat control calls.

  • Stationary pivot turns – clockwise and anti-clockwise
  • J turn – including reversing to a “pontoon” or other fixed position – eg buoy, wharf and/or bridge pylon
  • Figure 8 turn
  • Start line approach including holding position on start in varying conditions
  • Race starts – stationary
  • Gaining a starter’s attention if a problem arises
  • Race sweeping (simulation) – whole crew with drummer over 200m distance
  • Crew and boat control at the end of a race (straight, wake control, stop the boat etc.)
  • Pass other watercraft as per Maritime instructions
  • Ensure you have read the DBNSW sweeps guidelines and also the Rules of Racing

Sweep notes

A 20s boat weighs approximately 250 kg and with the addition of 20 paddlers, the total weight is just under 2 tonne. The length of a dragon boat is approximately 13 metres. Hence the importance of safety with the sweep being well prepared and paying attention to what is going on around him/her, both in the boat and on the surrounding water/landscape.

250 kg and nearly 13m long   

22 crew x average 70kg = 1540                 1540 + 250 = 1810kg

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