Rules & Regulations

The Medicine Hat Dragonboat Association (MHDBA) is committed to minimizing the risks of anyone involved in the sport of dragon boating.  The MHDBA considers that it is the duty of everyone involved in the sport to follow the advice and guidance contained within this Policy.


Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations of the MHDBA include those listed in this document, in addition to those signed by each member in their membership application and club waiver.

MHDBA or the watercourse management, due to special events or circumstances, can change, modify, or request specific requirements and dragon boat users will comply as instructed.

New rules or regulations can be added, changed, or amended at any time by the appropriate

representative of the MHDBA. Boat Captains and Steerers are required to stay current on such rules, and are required to see that their boats comply.  Updates to rules and policies will be provided to members by the MHDBA and when updates are made to this policy they will be forwarded by email of record, to MHDBA authorized Boat Captains and Steerers.   A copy of these Rules and Regulations will be posted with the membership roster in the Storage Room at Elkwater.



Dragon boats and dragon boat equipment usage is determined by the governing rules of the MHDBA. Dragon boats and dragon boat equipment usage is primarily intended for use of MHDBA members, but can be used, upon the discretion of the MHDBA, for other events such as outreach, training, fund raising, or community events.

When a dragon boat is owned, leased, or operated by the MHDBA and is on the water, the Boat

Captain, who will normally be the Helm (Steerer) will take responsibility for the safety of the crew and equipment.

For use of MHDBA boats both the Boat Captain and/or Steerer will acknowledge in writing to the MHDBA that they understand and will comply with the regulations, rules and safety requirements of both the MHDBA and any watercourse they are utilizing equipment of the MHDBA on.

Because MHDBA equipment is stationed at Elkwater Lake, the MHDBA safety requirement will stress the Elkwater Lake users’ rules.   However, if MHDBA equipment is utilized on other watercourses the rules of this course would pertain and need to be followed.

While MHDBA equipment is in use on Elkwater Lake, the Boat Captain will abide by the Elkwater Boating Regulations.


Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

Each person who is in the boat on an open watercourse must wear a vest type Life Vest or Personal Floatation Device (PFD).  This PFD will be CSA approved.  The PFD vest must be the proper size for that person’s weight and build, and be form-fitting and comfortable.

Individuals may use their own PFD vest upon inspection by the Steerer or Boat Captain, and their approval that it meets the above stated requirements.


Watercourse Requirements

Boat Captain and Steerer are responsible for having thorough knowledge of the rules of the watercourse, and making sure that the crew are aware of and follow these rules.

Public boating navigational rules specific to the Elkwater Lake include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Watercraft leaving the shoreline shall yield right of way to watercraft approaching the shoreline.
  • Public watercraft should give way to public safety and emergency watercraft.
  • All watercraft operators shall maintain a proper lookout and proceed at a safe speed when underway.
  • Watercraft underway shall stay at least 50 feet from drifting or anchored boats.  If approaching or coming alongside another boat, the operator shall use caution and approach at a safe, controlled speed.


Team Usage of Equipment

Team usage of the boats is not a right but a privilege, and can at any time be preempted, changed or cancelled at the behest of the MHDBA or the watercourse authorities.  A change in practice schedule could include any MHDBA approved event, or a watercourse venue conflict.



For an MHDBA boat to be used upon a watercourse, a trained Steerer must be present in the boat at the helm at all times.

A trained Steerer is recognized by the MHDBA as someone who is familiar with the type of boat being used, and has demonstrated a knowledge and expertise on how to steer the boat on the watercourse the boat is to navigate.  Additionally a trained Steerer has agreed in writing to abide by both the equipment and safety rules and regulations of the MHDBA, and in addition to abide by the rules and regulations of the watercourse being navigated.

The MHDBA recognizes that periodically, additional people will be trained as Steerers.  Until a trainee has completed steerer training, and been accepted by the MHDBA as a trained Steerer, a trained Steerer must be present in the boat while a trainee has the boat on a watercourse.

Training and testing will include demonstrated knowledge of MHDBA equipment, safety rules, and regulations and that of the watercourse.  The trainee will demonstrate the ability to maneuver the boat as required in a safe and prudent manner before being recognized by the MHDBA as a Steerer.

The Boat Captain and steerer will assure that the boat has an adequate number of paddlers to allow emergency commands to be quickly carried out.



Boat Captain and Steerer will ensure that all participants in the boat are:

  1. 1.   Members in good standing with the MHDBA.  Members in good standing with the MHDBA will have met all required criteria of membership, including age, health, current in membership dues, and have a signed waiver on file with the MHDBA.  A complete membership roster of all MHDBA members will be posted in the Storage Room at Elkwater and a copy supplied upon request to Boat Captain or Steerer.
  1. 2.   All participants are suitably dressed and prepared for the weather and water conditions and that they are not wearing anything (such as personal accessories or jewellery) which would impede their ability to escape from a capsized boat or swim unaided once in the water.
  1. 3.   Cognizant of the paddling procedures required to meet MHDBA and venue safety requirements, for example, commands such as “hold the boat”.
  1. 4.   Appropriate equipment is utilized by each boat occupant, such as PFD’s and paddles.


Equipment Care

Equipment supplied by the MHDBA is to be treated with respect, and should be returned to the appropriate storage area, in a manner that is consistent with maintaining the equipment in good


It is a crew’s responsibility to ensure that the dragon boat and its equipment are fully functional and water-worthy.  Boats and equipment must be carefully checked before use.  If issues are noted with equipment of the MHDBA or with facilities that are being used for this equipment by the MHDBA, it needs to be reported to the MHDBA authority in a timely manner.  If appropriate required equipment in good condition is not available, the boat will not be available for use and the MHDBA should be notified.



Facilities where the boats and equipment are stored and moored are not the property of the MHDBA, and are shared by multiple groups.  All crew need to be courteous of other users.  Unless a designated agent of the MHDBA is present, locked areas are to be kept locked at all times.

Access to storage, boat, and marina areas are shared with many users.  Members of the MHDBA will not block or hinder access and usage of other lake users.  If any issues occur, they should be reported immediately to the MHDBA authority.



Violations to rules and regulations are to be reported to a Board member of the MHDBA immediately.

The Boat Captain and/or Steerer are subject to all regulations of watercourse.  The MHDBA has the right to suspend membership and privileges, including use of boats, to any person or persons who do not comply with the Rules and Regulations, or who in the judgment of the MHDBA does not follow prudent safety practices.

After a restriction ruling has been made by the MHDBA, an individual(s) cited has fifteen days to

contest a restriction ruling by the MHDBA.  After the MHDBA has considered the individual’s request, the MHDBA will confirm and/or amend and/or rescind the restriction ruling, and this will be deemed to be the final ruling of the MHDBA.


Lightning and Wind

The dragon boat is to return to the marina if strong winds make maintaining course difficult or waves are threatening to go over the gunwales.

If lightning is seen in the vicinity of the lake, the dragon boat is to return immediately to the marina and be secured as quickly as possible.

The Boat Captain and/or Steerer will monitor while on the lake for inclement weather condition such as wind and lightning.


Adopted February 19, 2008