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EuroLeague trial year results evaluated

Changes in store for 2008 season

28 January 2008 - 
2007 saw the launch of the EDBF European League dragon boat circuit for club crews. As in any new undertaking, this was not without its teething pains, however with eleven race venues and 18 crews striving for League points, it could be called a reasonably successful trial season for the League racing setup.

Results could be set only in the open class and a "shadow league" was maintained for women´s and junior crews. Crews eligible for points had to race in at least three League races, one of which had to be away from their home country.

Of 19 crews competing in the League, ultimately only four club crews met all the criteria for scoring points: Moravian Dragons and Prazky Viber both from the Czech Rep and Amathus Dragons of GB, won 12 points each, and United Dragons of the Netherlands scored 10 points.

Amathus´ junior team, the Dragon Jockeys, deserves an honorable mention for their competitive spirit. Although junior crews are not yet an official part of the EuroLeague, the DJ´s competed in Alkmaar (NL) and in two League races in GB where they defeated some of the local adult teams. Additionally, in the women´s "shadow league", Wild and Velky Holky, both of Czech Republic and Raba Women of Hungary competed in League-earmarked races abroad.

League race in Gyor
Competitors at the League race in Gyor.

Slovakia also entered their National Crew in a number of races at League venues. As the 2007 League was meant to stimulate club crew racing in Europe, the Slovak crew was not eligible to score points in the 2007 League. However, had there been a National Crew category, Slovakia would have proven a strong competitor as they came in first overall in Gyor (HU) and second overall in Prague and Ostroska Nova Ves (CZ) against the club crews.

At the November 2007 EDBF AGA it was decided to change the basic format of the League to include National Team Crews, to give them additional top class competition in addition to, and as build up events for, the European Nations Championships or the World Nations Championships each year. Additionally, the AGA felt that an EL featuring National Crews as well as Club Crews would be more attractive to the media and potential sponsors.

Among changes to the EL format are regulations limiting the number of race venues in order to concentrate top crews at the same races, a requirement that regatta courses meet IDBF standards (depth, width, minimum of 6 lanes), setting League dates earlier in the season so that crews can make travel arrangements in advance and, finally, instituting a new race fee structure.

There will also be a split in the racing categories. As before, the only results that will count are those set in the open class, but there will be separate Finals for all classes, in addition to the Open Competition, and separate EL points awarded to the National Crews and Club Crews, in their own League Divisions, with prizes for both Divisional winners, at the end of the season.

A clear distinction has therefore been made between National Team Crews; who must be nominated as a National Crew by their National DBF and race in their National Team colors, as representatives of their Countries and club crews (which must also be approved by their National DBF) who must race in their Club colors.

Crews will not be able to race as both a National and Club Crew at the same EL race. This is intended to give top national crews a chance to face off outside of scheduled championships, whilst the EL system will still support a Europe-wide race circuit for ambitious club crews.

Five races have definitely been lined up for the 2008 EDBF European League calendar, with a possibility for a sixth race in Spain.

The 2008 EL dates are 31 May-1 June, Frankfurt, Germany; 21 June, Prague, Czech Rep; 12 July, Budapest, Hungary; 27 July, London, GB; 22-24 August Kiev, Ukraine and tentatively 27-28 September, Murcia, Spain.

Petr Klima of Czech Republic is the EDBF European League Co-ordinator and can be contacted on (klimberaatdragonboat.cz) for more information.

Additionally, Mike Haslam has been working hard to find sponsors for prizes and hints that the 2008 winners may become the proud owners of a new dragon boat with runners up winning a set of paddles. Watch this space for the official rules, fees, prizes and other information. In the meanwhile, contact your National Federation if you are interested in competing in the 2008 EDBF European League races.

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