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Croatia Update

Update on the Croatian newbie dragon boat ream development.

Submitted by Dubravka (Buba) Karlovic-Babic, President, Dragon Boat Klub Zadar (DBKZ) Zagreb, Croatia

Dear IBCPC members! I religiously follow all the BCS DB developments and events across the world! I have been impressed with so many teams celebrating life in the best possible way: paddling and having fun together! Well, our Croatian Dragonboat Klub Zadar (DBKZ) is doing the same, and over the past several months (since our first report in March 2022) a lot has happened, so I’ll do my best to briefly update you on the most important milestones!

After the official registration of our team (society and a nonprofit) in March, we received an incredibly generous offer from the Kayak Association in Zagreb (capital city of Croatia) to lend us a dragon boat, paddles, and PFDs for the crew of 22, until we manage to obtain our own!!!!

April 12th - our benefactors (Nikica and Tomislav) brought the DB with the equipment on the trailer from Zagreb! With the ability to paddle, we became a true DB team! From there on, we practiced on land (cardio & endurance) and on the sea - 4 times/week! It was incredible!!!!! The girls were amazed and quickly fell in love with this sport!

May 14th - was our FIRST participation in the event of dragon boat paddling: we were invited to take part in the kayak, canoe and DB paddling event in Zagreb, where among many kayak and canoe teams, there were also three DB teams, us being the only permanent team. We got a silver medal! This was an incredibly joyous moment full of pride and sense of an amazing accomplishment!

Featured in media: as a new and ONLY DB in Croatia we captured the attention of all media out there, from newspapers, to radio and national and local TV stations. Along with our FB page and ongoing updates on our team, we were definitely becoming “celebrities”!

June 8th - we organized a potluck and an official launch of our DB team with the traditional eye dotting and awakening of the dragon ceremony! This was dedicated to everyone who helped us along the way in establishing our team in a record time! The officials from the city’s sports authority and from the medical community, other NGOs, along with our families and friends celebrated US – the DBKZ!

This summer Croatia was scorching hot and extremely busy with tourists. This affected our attendance, but majority still continued with paddling and/or technique practices (in the pool)!

September 24th - 25th - in early August we received an invitation to participate in the 4th EDBF Dragon Boat Euro Cup and the 8th International Dragon Boat Festival in Belgrade, Serbia and represent our country Croatia!!! This is the FIRST international event we will participate in! AMAZING! So, we are now preparing for that event, which also has BCS races!!! In addition, related to this event, a group of 5 male athletes - kayak paddlers (some of them Olympians) proposed to us to form a mixed team (small DB) for this event so that Croatia is represented in that category as well, and we said YES of course! You have no idea how excited and proud we are because it is going to be a true Croatian debut in the sport of dragon boat paddling on the international stage!

Another great news is that we got an in-kind donation for the design and production of our new DBKZ LOGO (attached)! It has a universal design so we will have various options, but its original is a BCS logo!

In the meantime, we are making some serious fundraising efforts and so far have successfully obtained donations from several donors: an individual donation from twin brothers, entrepreneurs from Germany and Austria (the Meler bros) whose donation is enabling us to obtain our own PADDLES in adequate sizes for our team! Also, a local medical supplies & orthopedic equipment company provided us with financial support, then the city of Zadar as well (for the second time), the Maritime school and another private donor have either donated or made a commitment to do so shortly. We are now searching for the corporate sponsors who may be willing to pay for the small DB. We hope to be able to fundraise enough to have our own DB and then establish other teams within our club!

This year was simply incredible! We started from scratch – literally, in the country which never heard about dragon boat sport and now, after only 6 months since our official beginning, we are on the international DB scene! That’s some success indeed!

However, our ultimate goal is to participate in the next IBCPC festival in 2026! We are so looking forward to meeting our sisters across the globe and share the joy of life!

Paddles up girls (and boyz)!!!

Sincerely yours

Dubravka (Buba) Karlovic-Babic, President DBKZ, Croatia

Check us out and follow us on our FB page @Zadar Dragonboat