Participant Information

Dear BCS Dragon Boaters,

Are you ready to participate in the BCS Dragon Boat Festival of a lifetime?  Situated in the warm sun on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we welcome you to a week of exciting activities!  Get your team and country flags ready, and order those lapel pins for trading with paddlers from all over the world.  Be part of this Celebration of Survivorship and Sisterhood in the Sunshine State.  We are going to paint the town PINK!

Come early in the week and enjoy the beautiful beaches, restaurants, cultural sites, andunique shopping . . . or sign up for a 2-day or 4-day Pan Am dragon boat clinic while you recover from jet lag and acclimate yourself to Florida’s  Eastern Daylight Savings time zone.

Hotel Hotline +001 954-649-1000

We are using multiple hotels in the same chain, so make note of the location of YOUR hotel and which bus will be serving it on the weekend.  If you’re not sure, you can contact our Hotel Hotline by calling  +001 954-649-1000 or emailing  The Thaler Team will provide assistance for your team’s accommodations.

Check-in & Credential Packet Pick-up

Starting on Tuesday, October 21, Festival check-in/packet pick-up will be held at the brand new University Town Center Mall (UTC) about 1 mi/.62km north of Nathan Benderson Park (NBP). Tables will be set up on the first level near the north end of the Mall.

Send a few team members to pick up all your team’s registration packets on:
•    Tuesday through Wednesday from 12:00 am to 5:00 pm.
•    Thursday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm  Late check –in at the Information Tent at NBP.

Pick up your Credential Name Badge & Wear It! 

Credential Name Badge

Must be worn:
•    To ride the Festival buses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday;
•    To enter the Athletes’ Village,
•    For admission to the lunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday;
•    To practice and race in the dragon boats;
•    To prove registration and be eligible for any special offers or discounts.

Wear your Festival Shirt to Opening Ceremonies Friday for a huge group photo!

Souvenir Swag Bag

Each registrant will receive a commemorative tote bag with a treasure trove of useful items! Put your name, hotel and bus number in/on your bag – you’ll see 2,999 others just like it!

In the bag you’ll find:

•    Pink Festival T-shirt.  WEAR it to Opening Ceremonies on Friday for a huge group photo!
•    Really cool Festival lapel pin!
•    Festival water bottle – Put your name on it – Use it! Save the environment!
•    Sun screen & lip balm – Use it!  Save your skin!
•    CoolEyz Eyewear, Pink Warrior bandana, Bio-Freeze, and more . . .
•    Discount coupons – Use them! Save some money!

The Race Venue Will Knock Your Socks Off!!

Nathan Benderson Park is the race venue where much of the Festival’s activities will be held.  It is easily accessed from I-75 by either the University Parkway or Fruitville Road exits.  This state-of-the-art park, will be complete with a Jumbo-tron video screen and an audio system that will blow you away.  This is not your average race venue, ladies and gentleman…wait till you see this!

Friday, October 24th

Transportation   – Know your schedule and be on time – If you miss the bus, you are on your own.
By Festival Bus: Many hotels have similar names, be sure you are getting on the right bus!  Check the bus schedule provided in your Souvenir Bag or on the website.  Each Festival hotel is assigned a number. Buses will service the hotels with the corresponding number. Know your number!! Plan to arrive at NBP early!  We have a strict time schedule and we’d hate to have you miss an event or a race.

By car:  Nathan Benderson Park is located just south of the University Town Center Mall at the Southwest corner of the Interstate I-75 and University Parkway interchange. Parking will be available in NBP for $5/day. Since the park uses remote parking areas and provides shuttle service from them to the race venue on Regatta Island, please allow extra time for parking.

A variety of food vendors will be on hand so you can purchase your choice of food or snack items.  Water stations will be available at the venue Thursday through Sunday.  Put your name on your refillable Festival water bottle and use it to help us be environmentally responsible.  Also, several restaurants and food specialty shops are available at the University Town Center Mall approximately 1 mile (1.6Km) north of NBP. For a list of these merchants go to

Team Tents Assignments & Decorating

The Athlete’s Village will be set up with 12+ giant tents that the teams will share.  Each team will be assigned a 10′ X 20′ (3.05m x 6.1m) space around the perimeter of the tent. Large or double teams will have a proportionate amount of additional space. You will also have a 2′ X 4′ (61cm X 122cm) banner with your team’s anme on it that will hang across the entrance to your section of the tent (will also be used for the Parade).
You are invited to settle into your tent area on Friday.  Only credentialed participants and supporters will be allowed in the Athletes’ Village, and we will have 24-hour security on the premises.  Your tent area will have one table, but please be aware that your full set of 20 chairs will not be delivered to your tent until Saturday morning (after they’re used for Opening Ceremony).

IBCPC Congress at Hyatt Regency Sarasota
The IBCPC Congress Meeting will convene on Friday. Bus transportation will be provided for delegates – check the bus schedule when it is available. Delegates should plan to be at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota at 8:30am.  The meeting will start promptly at 9am and run until 11am at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota (1000 Blvd. of The Arts). Two representatives from each IBCPC member team are invited to attend this organizational meeting (but only one vote can be cast per team).  The agenda is available at the IBCPC website at

Practice Sessions
Practice sessions will be held on Thursday and Friday at NBP.  Check with your team manager to determine what day/time you will be practicing – don’t miss the boat!

Wellness Day Activities
These will include educational presentations, exercise programs, fun and crazy team building activities, and much more. Wellness programs will be repeated to allow more people to attend and to avoid conflicting with your practice schedule.  For details go to:

Wear your Festival Shirt to the Opening Ceremony!!

Opening Ceremony & Reception
Opening Ceremony will be set in a tropical theme starting with the Marco Steel Drum and Band at 4:30.  Be sure to wear the pink shirt you will get in your Souvenir Bag. We will be posing for a memorable aerial group photo!

The ceremony begins at 5:00pm, and we are delighted and honored to have as guest speakers Dr. Susan Love – surgeon, author, researcher, and “a ‘founding mother’ of the breast cancer advocacy movement.” She also will be with us during the day, and her latest book will be available for sale and signing.

After the presentations a brief Reception will be held from 6:30-7:30pm.  Come snack, mingle and meet paddling sisters from near and far!

Stick around for a spectacular send off before you head off to spend your Friday evening exploring the area and enjoying all that it has to offer!  Check for dining suggestions.

Saturday, October 25th

Race Schedule
Check our website for the race schedule to see when you will need to be at NBP.  We are operating on a very tight time schedule and you MUST be in marshaling at least 30 minutes prior to your event!  If you are driving to NBP allow plenty of time for parking.

See “Transportation” section in the Friday section above and check the bus schedule in your Souvenir Bag or on the Festival website.

Lunch will be served to credentialed paddlers and supporters in the Dining Tent between 10:30 am and 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.  You can eat in the Dining Tent or bring your food back to your tent area.  A table and 20 chairs will be provided in your tent. In addition, a variety of food vendors will be on hand for anyone who wants to purchase food or snack items.  Water stations will be available at the venue. Please use your refillable Festival water bottle or bring your own beverages and food.  However, please be aware that glass containers are not permitted at NBP.

Racers in the first TWO heats must be in marshaling promptly at 8:00am. Race will begin at 8:30 sharp – with OR without you! Racers in all other heats must report to marshaling at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled race time. Races will include two 500-meter heats for each team.  This new, world-class racecourse will be set up with 8 lanes that are 13.5 meters wide and at least 3.5 meters deep.  Each lane will have an anchored starting platform and trained volunteers will be holding boats for each start. See Rules & Regulations posted on the website on the home page.  Saturday races should finish by 3:30 and will allow time to prepare for the evening’s activities.

Parade and Paddlers Party
We have planned for Saturday races to end by 3:30pm to allow time for participants to return to hotels and change into their parade attire.  Buses will be available to transport credentialed participants from NBP to their hotels and later to “Main Street” in Lakewood Ranch (3 miles/1.8 km from NBP) and back.  Also, plenty of parking will be available in the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center parking lots for those arriving by car/van.

Teams should arrive at Main Street between 5:00 – 6:00 pm. You should report to the Parade marshal, Kim Davis, and she will assign you and your team a number that corresponds to your place in the parade line.

Prizes for the team with the best parade costumes!

Teams should arrive for parade staging at Main Street Lakewood Ranch by 5:00pm, and they are encouraged to wear clothing reflective of their nation or region.  Prizes will be awarded to teams with the best costumes exhibited during the parade.  Don’t forget to bring your flags and banners, or you can use the banner from your team tent.  While teams are waiting in the staging area they are encouraged to share their team songs/chants!

Parade Led by D’Mo Brass Band!

Teams will march to the “moves and music” of The Distinguished Men of Brass, locally known as the d’Mo Brass Band. These talented and entertaining musicians have performed on “America’s Got Talent” and will be leading the parade and performing for YOU. Teams will start marching down Main Street at 6:30pm and will follow d’Mo Brass Band in the order in which the whole team arrives at the staging area.

Dinner & Dancing at Main Street, Lakewood Ranch
Restaurant, bars and retail stores in Lakewood Ranch will be “pinked-up” and their patrons will be waiting to see your pink bling, boas and wigs.  They have no idea what a spectacle we will make!  Food vendors and restaurants will be open, and you are invited to purchase your dinner from any of the many street vendors or sit down restaurants on Main Street. Tables and chairs will be available throughout the Main Street area for “eating & meeting,” and the outdoor entertainment and dancing will go on till 10:00pm.

Buses will be available to take you back to your hotel, but the last bus will leave Lakewood Ranch around 10:30pm.  So if you choose to hang out in town, be sure to make your own transportation arrangements back to your hotel.

Sunday, October 26th

Race Schedule – see “Race Schedule” on Saturday

Transportation – see “Transportation” section on Friday

Food – see “Food” section on Saturday

The Finals Round of the Festival will start on Sunday at 8:30 sharp! Racers in the first TWO heats of the day must be in marshaling promptly at 8:00am.  Racers in all other heats must report to marshaling at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled race time.

The Sandy Smith Global Race
Paddlers in the Final heat will remain on the water as we head directly into The Sandy Smith Global Race (TSSGR).  Coordinated by Eleanor Nielsen, of the IBCPC Advisory Board and Dragons Abreast Toronto, this final race of the Festival welcomes a representative from each team to paddle together in the spirit of global friendship.  After this race the TSSGR crews will join the paddlers from the final race heat in a touching, 18-boat Flower Ceremony – the largest to date – a true celebration of Survivorship and Sisterhood.

Closing Ceremonies
What better way to close out the 2014 IBCPC Festival than with the person whose vision, expertise, and leadership launched the BCS dragon boat movement?!  Dr. Don McKenzie,  – physician, exercise physiologist, researcher and “founding father of the BCS dragon boat movement,” is our featured speaker, and he will share with us his observations on the Festival and the state of BCS dragon boat paddling.  You will also hear from the Festival’s Organizing Committee and the IBCPC leadership as they express their gratitude to our community partners who helped us host our pink paddling friends from all over the world.

We look forward to meeting again at the next IBCPC Participatory Race Festival!