Become a Member

Join Us

Dragons Abreast (DA) Toronto welcomes ALL breast cancer survivors. No previous paddling experience required.


What You Need To Do

Are you interested in joining this active group for fun and fitness? If so, you will need to:

  • Be a breast cancer survivor.
  • Have completed all treatment, preferably at least three months prior to the beginning of the dryland fitness training in February. Members should undergo at least 3 months of gradual fitness training prior to beginning any paddling program.
  • Speak to your doctor about whether this is a safe activity for you at this time.
  • Commit to participating in the Dragons Abreast fitness and paddling program.
  • Commit to attending at least one practice  per week from May to the end of paddling season in September.

Dragons Abreast is a team run by breast cancer survivors for breast cancer survivors – we understand what you’re going through. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at


New members are accepted annually until the end of January. The deadline for 2024 membership is January 31st, 2024.

We invite everyone interested to attend an information meeting, before the registration deadline. At this meeting you will learn all about Dragons Abreast, training and paddling information, the costs involved, what gear you may need,  as well as have the opportunity to ask questions.
This year’s  meeting will be held on Sunday, January 28th from 9:30 to 11:30 in downtown Toronto. If you are a new member interested in attending, please email us at

*Please note that registration has started for 2024. We would love to have you join us. Send us an email to find out more and to have your name added to the DA new member meeting invite list!

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Explanation of Dragons Abreast Waiver

Newbies to DA – A Video Guide

Here is a great (and humourous) video explaining a lot of aspects of paddling a dragon boat. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Lake Practice start?

Lake Practice starts in late April, usually around the 20th to the 22nd. You will be advised of the exact date as weather conditions can vary significantly in the early Spring.

Where is Lake Practice located and what are the times and days we practice?

Location: Sunnyside Docks located behind the Sunnyside Café and Pool.
( Lakeshore Blvd. and Parkside Drive)
Time: start time varies – be dressed and ready to warm up and load the boat 15 minutes prior to practice
Days: Currently every Monday (rep crew only) and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings from late April to mid September.

How do I get there?

By car: Come down to the Lakeshore in the West End of Toronto and park in the parking lots on either side of the Sunnyside Pool. Parking is $3.00 per evening starting in mid May until Labour Day.

If coming by car from the east you will need to go past Parkside Drive to the U Turn exit just before Ellis Drive. Wait for a break in traffic and go directly across all lanes and enter the West Parking Lot. Park and walk towards the beach behind the café and pool. You will see us there.

By TTC or Public Transit: Take the subway west to Dundas West Station. Transfer to the King Street streetcar and get off at Sunnyside. Cross the street, and using the footbridge, cross Lakeshore Blvd. This will take you to the Palais Royale. Walk west along the boardwalk to Sunnyside Pool. You will see us there.

What do I wear for practice?

In the early spring wear waterproof jackets, pants and shoes. Water will splash up and you want to stay dry and warm. Neoprene gloves or rubber gloves are also recommended as the water will be cold in the first few weeks of practice. Bring a change of clothes for after practice. They can be left in the change room lockers at a cost of 25 cents per locker. As the weather warms up, shorts, t-shirts, and footwear that can get wet will be fine. You will find what works best for you.

Do I need to bring equipment to practice?

Dragons Abreast supplies life jackets and paddles. The only suggested item would be a seat pad. Kneeling pads that you use in the garden wrapped with the net type shelf liner work well. Gel seat pads can also be purchased in various sporting goods locations.

How do I sign up for practice?

We use TeamSnap for attendance. Please sign up for practice online with TeamSnap and the lake practice coordinator will also mark attendance before practice. If you will be absent, please update TeamSnap well before practice.

How do I sign-up for races?

The team meets before the season starts for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which time we select the races to participate in. At that time, paddlers indicate if they wish to go to a particular Regatta. If you find that you want to go to a regatta at a later date, please notify the venue captain and/or co-captain.

What if I can’t go to a race I signed-up for?

Tell your Venue Captain/Co-Captain immediately so they can find a replacement.

Does Dragons Abreast do any off-season training?

The team offers off-season training, and all members are encouraged to attend these sessions.

illustration of dragon boat positions

Dragon Boat Terms and Lingo

Pacers, Engine Room, and Rockets

These are terms that describe the paddlers position in the boat. Each crew member is placed where they are best suited to give the best possible contribution to the crew as a whole. Every crew is different so you may not always paddle in the same seat or with the same partner. Some of the considerations are stroke consistency, paddling side, long legs, short legs, height, strength, and experience.

Each section of the boat has its own needs and requirements. Pacers (front six) need to have good consistent stokes and be controlled. If they are too enthusiastic and go too fast the crew will be wasting valuable energy and will likely not achieve its goals because there is nothing left for the final push to the finish. The engine room (middle eight) need to be strong and powerful as they are dealing with faster water. This is also where the boat is sitting the lowest in the water and strong powerful strokes are needed to keep it up and gliding over the water. Rockets (back six) are probably dealing with the fastest water and need a good deep stroke to get a good connection with the water and keep the lift and glide going. This section is also often responsible for a turbo charge push at the start of a series that is picked up through the rest of the boat.

No one section is more important than the other. They must all work together as one or we may as well not leave the dock. Your coach will place you in the boat where you are best suited to be the most help for your crew. The over-riding consideration is always what is best for the crew as a whole. There are 22 hearts in the dragon boat beating as one.