ROPAG Who We Are and What We Do

For those who don’t know, there is a Committee, known as ROPAG – Regatta Operations and Pathway Advisory Group. The Committee Chair reports to the DBV Board and final decisions are ratified by the Board. The Committee meets every month and members speak to each other many times during the course of each month. Your Committee is made up of the following DBV Members, who have knowledge of and are committed to Seniors, Premiers, Juniors, Cancer Survivors, Sweeps and Officials, together with DBV.

Craig Ryan

Jen Reilly

Philippa McLean

Serghei Cucsa

Adrian Stephens

Ulrich Moshammer

Christine Watson

This Committee is responsible for:

  • Confirming Dates of events/regattas for the calendar year of dragon boating
  • Determining regatta locations. We have 28 Clubs throughout Victoria, membership continues to grow, and sometimes there are challenges
  • Organising regatta logistics, including food vans, toilets, water etc
  • Determining crews, the composition of boats and race distances, ensuring there is a full complement of mixed, opens, womens and inclusion of positive scheduling for Cancer Survivors, Premiers, Juniors, Seniors
  • Ensuring a range of distances are covered across the season and that these are placed with a view to clubs’ full season training
  • Facilitating participation at all levels for all clubs across Victoria
  • Ensuring course set ups
  • Developing the race draws for each regatta
  • Approving changes to the DBV Race Rules
  • Sourcing and managing the amazing officials and volunteers who attend regattas
  • Debriefing after each regatta and ensuring feedback from surveys is noted and acted upon
  • Working closely with the DBV Board
  • Maintaining a good working relationship with AusDBF

This regatta season 20232/24 has been the first year we have been able to run a full calendar. Notwithstanding the horrors of Covid, where we were unable to paddle, we then suffered bushfires and floods last season, cutting the paddling year short.

One of the most successful regattas has been Cross Border Championships. The success, apart from the large number of crews who were able to compete and not just clubs from Victoria, is the ability to run the event over two or three days. Naturally this does not suit everyone, however, try as we might, not all regattas are going to work for everyone.

Lots of teams like to paddle 500m races. Some only 200m. Others 1000m and/or 2000m. The difficulty for ROPAG is selecting what races will appeal to clubs based on the location they are travelling to. For instance, very few Metro Clubs are attending Falls Creek this year because of the race categories, the timing of the event and the costs.


Often, we find businesses who have registered to bring food and/or coffee vans to a regatta, pull out at the last minute, or just don’t turn up. When this happens, we struggle to find alternate providers at short notice.

The weather is unpredictable and as you know, sometimes we have to cancel or postpone a regatta due to 30+ km winds, lightening, etc. Where we can, we reschedule, however sometimes this is not possible. We need at least six weeks’ notice to obtain the permits required to run a regatta from Parks Vic, Councils, Water ways etc. This then can compete with other regattas that have been scheduled. If there is any danger, the event will always be cancelled and rescheduled, if possible.

Sometimes our regattas go ahead in trying conditions but it’s good training to paddle in conditions that are not perfect.

2024 is an expensive year for all of us who like to compete – we are faced with the costs of accommodation, travel and regatta costs for events such as Falls Creek, Luna New Year in Sydney, Luna New Year in Melbourne, Victorian Championships in Carrum running over two days, National Championships in Perth running over five days and of course CCWC in Ravena, Italy in September, for crews who have qualified to attend.


What ROPAG tries very hard to achieve is fairness for everyone. Not every regatta is going to be suitable to every club. We look at the feedback previously received, consider the teams who may attend and work towards making the racing structure suitable. When everything is finalised, the race draw has been completed and all clubs are happy, a team and/or a club may withdraw at the last minute. There can be a number of reasons for this - paddler illness, travel times and or prohibitive costs. This can’t be helped, however it does make it a little frustrating for everyone on the day, when the schedule of racing is amended. For this we apologise. We juggle draws at the last minute to achieve the best possible outcome in the space of time available to us.

Naturally we want to have the best regatta season and not lose sight that we want you to have fun, compete in the categories you enjoy, and hopefully win some bling. For these reasons, we cannot run a regatta and have all clubs competing with every category of racing – we need a couple of days to enable this.


We are now entering the “pointy” end of the season and serious training is happening with most clubs. We want to be able to offer you as much as possible the races you want, however we need more hours in the day to do that. After Falls Creek, we will be hosting Lunar New Year, which attracts a large spectator crowd – and this will help to get the word out about dragon boat racing and hopefully help your club grow.

ROPAG welcomes your feedback and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Christine Watson