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Welcome to Croatia

We welcome our 33rd country, Croatia, to the IBCPC family and thank Buba Babic (who lives in Canada) for her tenacity to travel back to Croatia with the determination to form this team in her home country.

Newbies all the way – a story of Croatia’s first BCS DB!!!!

I am sure all of you know or remember how it feels to be a newbie: someone who has never done something and has no expectations, no idea and no clue about what is going to happen! They just know that it (something) IS going to happen!

I will try to describe the things that this newbie team Dragonboat Klub Zadar from Croatia, has experienced in an extra short time from February 1 to June 8, 2022!

The implementation of the initiative to start a dragon boat team in Croatia (primarily BCS), started mid January 2022; the first official (founding) meeting was held on February 1, 2022 with 10 founding members! The first training was held February 12. The team was registered and became an official first dragonboat club in Croatia on March 15!

All this time the team held trainings to build or improve a cardio and fitness level of each member, twice a week (land training). Dragon boat (borrowed) arrived to our city on April 12! Our FIRST paddle was on April 13, 2022! All members were NEWBIES in paddling, in water sports as a team, and of course first time seeing an actual dragon boat!!!! Excitement, thrill, anticipation, curiosity and maybe some fear and anxiety from the unknown – that’s what everyone felt!

From there on, we paddled 3 times a week because we were invited to participate in our first DB race in Zagreb on May 14, 2022. The intensity of emotions about this invitation was indescribable!!! That was the topic for 4 weeks among the team (by then we had 23 members)! 4 weeks was all we had to learn how to paddle in a DB and prepare for the first race!!! In addition we had to deal with being in the public eye, competing, racing and keeping our cool! That seemed IMPOSSIBLE!

Anyway, after obtaining financial support from the city authorities for this trip to Zagreb, we left Zadar on the afternoon of May 13th in a rented mini-bus. Well!!! I have NEVER been with a group of women who showed endless energy for singing on and off the bus during the entire trip!!! These girls “killed it”. The party did not stop till bed time!

The day of the race: morning - girls were a bit quiet, not knowing what’s in store and what it means to race, and to see another boat next to ours. All the relevant instructions and information was of course given to them, but still, that was only a theory to them!

Now, I’m calling you readers to remember how many butterflies and gut wrenches you’ve experienced each time before the race??? MANY! It’s an ADRENALIN rush getting ready to race, but for these girls it was more than that! It was another one of their FIRSTS!

Lined up on the dock, zipped and clipped with their paddles in hand; stepped into the DB, hip to the gunnel, eyes wide “shut”, heart beat over 85 (for sure), paddling to the start line…. Start line and unknown commands from the starters; they were only used to our internal team’s commands…“WHAT is going to happen: are we going to do what we are supposed to do? Are we going to make it to the finish line? Am I going to remember everything I learned this past month? Can I endure the entire race?....” and many more questions popped up in their heads, and mine as well! All of this was happening too fast, too much, too good, too much to handle!

Race: some noise made by the referee and we were ON!!!! By the time we figured out what’s happening we were RACING!!! And in a short couple of minutes we MADE it to the finish line! We came second of the three boats! I must say that we showed an amazing team work and paddling skills, most of the 200 m race we paddled in unison, we gave it all!

Happy, cheerful, emotional, wet, relieved, relaxed (partially). Unbelievable joy on their faces and pride in their hearts! The public gave us a special cheer being the only team with BCS! The ice was broken! Dragonboat Klub Zadar has made the HISTORY in Croatia in the sport of dragon boating! The first team, and what’s more the first BCS & supporters team! Receiving the medals was a cherry on the cake! One of the girls said: “Here is grandma with her first medal EVER!”.

I am so proud of our team and all the girls (we are now 28 strong and growing), who put their hearts and minds into this completely new sport which they knew nothing about few months before! It takes courage and commitment to jump into the unknown, especially at this stage in life and with little or no experience in sports in general! Now, these girls are “hooked” and they are not giving it up! They LOVE IT! On June the 8th we are celebrating the start of our team and will show our appreciation to all our supporters. Our Dragon will be “awakened” and his/hers eyes “dotted” by the mayor of Zadar!

We are very happy to be members of our sisterhood community acros the world! Dear IBCPC watch us grow stronger and healthier! Watch us paddle across Europe and the world! We hope one day soon we will be able to host all of you at the BCS DB festival in our beautiful country! But before that we hope to see you soon in a paddling clinic here in our city!

Paddles up!

Dubravka Karlovic-Babic

President Dragonboat Klub Zadar