WCDBA Sweeps (Helms/Steerpersons)
Home     The Legend     History in SA     Clubs     Events     Where to Paddle     Helming     Paddling Technique


amaBele Belles
  • Justine Quince - 2014
  • JoAnne Benoit - 2016
  • Lenora Hammond - 2016
  • Craig Seymore - 2004
  • Aurelien Brandt - 2009
Drachen Hari-Yoshi
  • Idries Meyer - 2014
  • Abdul Edross - 2007
  • Ahmad-Ihsaan Edross 2012
  • Shandre Daniels - 2006
  • Jurgen Briegel - 2018
  • Paula Kingham - 2008
  • Pamela Newby - 1996
  • Greg Pearce - 2004
  • Christine Cassar - 2015
  • Dino Levendall - 2018
  • Nigel Wilson - 2009
  • Marwaan Charles - 2009

This list does not include helms who have emigrated, or who are no longer actively involved with the sport.

Comments arising from practical assessments

General helming skills

Always check the sweep arm and platform as well as the tie-down of the oar. (When there is a drummer get them to check the drum tie-down as well as the drum-seat.

Use backpaddling on the opposite side of drawstrokes to prevent boat moving forward.

Do not rely on paddlers stopping the boat when coming in to moor up. Stop early and ask the front four to paddle in gently.

Show consideration to other boats/clubs - don't do a sprint in the middle of someone else's assessment/ time trial or come up close behind when they are doing a reversing exercise. Try and anticipate what they are going to do and keep clear.

A sweep doesn't power the boat, so wherever you need help from paddlers, ask for it. Don't carry out an exercise immediately you are told to (by anyone, including the coach) if you are not happy with your boat's position. You are the one that will get the blame if anything goes wrong!

Remember the sweep is the one giving the commands. The sweep overules the coach, the captain (& the sweep examiner) as the sweep is the one responsible for the boat and crews safety.

Twist the sweep oar when cornering, this gives a sensitive, more stable response.

In a side wind, the stern tends to get blown away; loading heavy paddlers at the back helps stop this.

Always helm as though it is an assessment!

Always bring your own whistle (and head-torch in winter), even if you aren't expecting to sweep.

Encourage during racing!
Yelling that you are catching up / overtaking / getting caught is a great incentive when paddlers are tiring

Call commands loudy and clearly.
The people in front are 11m away, and can't hear you if it is windy or people behind them are chattering. Don't call too many instructions when they are paddling - they won't hear you properly, so they won't hear a command either. If you want to instruct, stop the boat and get them to look at you (or try to) so you can see they are listening.

When aligning, use the wind by turning into it and use it to take the nose round.

When racing, do not endanger paddlers for the sake of winning. Try to avoid racing so close paddles clash, arms could get broken.

With regards to safety in the V&A

Whistle blows were too short and not necessarily in correct place. Remember you are doing it as a warning to other boats, especially ones you can't see or who can't see you !

One blow = proceeding to starboard !! Should not blow once when cutting left across the cut!
One blast means you are proceeding though it on the right.

Ask the stroke pair for the ok before crossing any cut.

Be observant and watch which boats moor where so you know where best to get out of the way.
You need to be aware at all time of what is going on around you. Ask yourself things like "That ships engines are running -is it about to depart, or just charging its batteries?" (If about to depart there will be people standing at mooring lines ashore or on the ship ready to cast off).
Constantly observe activities on the quayside, on jetties and gang-planks, bridges, lights etc and ask for example "Why is that guy walking down a gang-plank to nothing" ... (the boat that moors there will be about to come in!)

A boat travelling in the traffic flow has right of way,
If another dragon boat is doing a 500 from the One-and-only to the white bridge (or vica versa) they are with the flow. Another dragon boat coming out of the synchrolift area should give way. If in any doubt, be polite, give way.

Remember we are smaller and far more tippy than anything else on the water - never expect anyone else to get out of our way!

Helming Corporates

When briefing novices ask if any = asthmatic and if so, do they have their pump?
Advise people wearing glasses to take them off if they don't have a safety chord, specs dont float!

With a rowdy crew, psychology helps.
Put yourself in a dominant position by pairing them off and seating them - preferably in the boat, otherwise on the jetty. They are now confined, Mr Bigdeal is no longer in centre stage, and you are standing over them so they are more likely to listen to you than him. Tell them that if they mess about, the boat WILL capsise. This will make the rest of the boat tell Mr Bigdeal to behave! Avoid the temptation to throw a paddle at him !

Finally, remember that it is important that the Waterfront see us as an asset
- and not as a nuisance!

Take Care.

Home     The Legend     History in SA     Clubs     Events     Where to Paddle     Helming     Paddling Technique