When the International Dragon Boat Federation World Dragon Boat Racing Championships are held in Pattaya, Thailand, on Aug. 7-13, 10 paddlers from Nathan Benderson Park teams will be participating as part of Team USA, per a June 20 release from the park.
NBP’s Paul Hoffmann is now a three-time Team USA member, making the roster in 2019, 2021 and 2023. Steerer Angela Long, who also serves as the dragon boat coach for Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy, and paddlers Mandy Boyers, Doreen Clyne and Don Bickel made the team for the second time. Paddlers Brian Long, Dana Trimble, Duneska Grant, Joni Carone and drummer Paula Murray will make their world-stage debuts.
Team USA members are chosen in age groups and for boat size, which includes standard boat crews of 10 paddlers and small boat crews of five paddlers. Each boat also has a drummer at the bow and a steerer who stands in the stern of the boat with a long oar.
“The 2021 event in Hong Kong was canceled due to the pandemic, so we’re ready and excited for this opportunity to compete at the world championships,” Long said. “We started with one member making the U.S. team and have steadily improved over the years to now have 10 contenders selected. Everyone on this roster has proven that they can be competitive on the world’s biggest dragon boat racing stage.”
In alternate years to these biennial championships, entire club teams qualify for the club crew national and world championships. The next national club crew championship will be held at Nathan Benderson Park on July 21-22.
The selected paddlers had help in getting this far. Long said Beth Turconi, a two-time Team USA veteran, was “instrumental to the paddling program’s growth and success.” Turconi was the only NBP athlete to make the cut in 2019 and was selected again for Team USA in 2021. This year, she’ll be sharing her experience and encouragement to help get the group ready for the summer event.
“We are so proud of this tremendous 10 on their achievements,” said Bruce C. Patneaude, the chief operating officer of Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy. “With Coach Angela at the helm, the NPB paddling program is poised for long-term success. Paddling, specifically dragon boat, is a sport for all. We invite the community to get involved at NBP, whether as a paddler, volunteer or supporter.”