Purple Warriors is a national club with no physical ‘home’. Instead, we get together about once a month in a centralised location to train or to race. A centralised training day is usually a full-day event. It will normally have three sessions on the water and video analysis, briefings and presentations between sessions. We provide a hot meal afterwards and always try to provide a hot breakfast on arrival. It is a wonderful opportunity to mix with other Purple Warriors and also for families and friends to meet up – they too draw support from being among each other and we encourage them to come along as well (although they won’t get to paddle). A typical paddling session would last about an hour and would focus on a particular aspect of technique or be a more of a demanding endurance session. Because everyone is in the same boat (literally!), no one gets left behind or left out, and there are no ‘stars’ strutting their stuff; all you are asked to do is the best you can and to try to make a difference. We are inspired by everyone who tries – some are clearly strong and fit and go a whole session without appearing to break sweat while others need a short break here and then to catch their breath and reset their aching limbs.
Race events are different. These are held around the country and each attract most of the dragon boat clubs from around UK. Race days usually have two main events: a competition over either a 200m or 500m course (straight-line racing with boats in lanes and with heats, semi-finals and finals) and a longer ‘turn’ race (usually over about 2km) where teams set off at intervals and race around a course that involves turns. These culminate in the National Championships in September each year and these comprise a range of events (by age, gender, distance etc) and are run over a whole weekend. When Purple Warriors competes, it is normally the only impaired crew on the water, but our performances have been far from impaired and we mix it with the best!
Racing is demanding and training centrally once a month is really not enough to be seriously competitive. So we have teamed with a number of local dragon boat clubs who have agreed to host Purple Warrior paddlers and allow them to train on a more regular basis. These clubs were chosen because of their geographic location (we want to cover the country), their facilities for the physically impaired (wheelchair access etc), and the presence of ex-military in their membership (who would obviously be more likely to understand issues our paddler face). That said, all dragon boat clubs in UK would welcome Purple Warrior members and there is nothing at all stopping you going along to a club other than one of our five teamed clubs. The five clubs we are teamed with currently are: Hurricanes (Wraysbury, west London), Exe-Calibre (Exeter, Devon), Bristol Empire Dragons (Saltford, south east of Bristol), Crusaders (Crosby, north of Liverpool), and Powerhouse (Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham)
However, if your home location means you really can’t train other than at our centralised sessions, don’t worry. All we ask is your commitment to the team – give as much as you can