Nathan Benderson Park

Sarasota-Bradenton to Host National Dragon Boat Championship Regatta

Regatta will be held October 2021 at Nathan Benderson Park

August 6, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. (August 6, 2020) - The largest-ever national championship regatta in the sport of dragon boat paddling is what organizers expect for October 2021 on the Florida Suncoast.

The U.S. Dragon Boat Federation announced the date and unveiled a logo for its 2021 Club Crew National Championships at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.

The event, to be held October 1-3, 2021, will be hosted and organized by the federation in partnership with Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), which operates the park, and with Visit Sarasota County and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The federation is the national governing body for dragon boat racing. All of its member clubs and teams are eligible to compete in the 2021 Club Crew National Championships. This event will be the sole American qualifier for the 2022 International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships, also taking place at Nathan Benderson Park.

“The U.S. Dragon Boat Federation is excited to produce the 2021 Club Crew National Championships,” the federation’s president, Andrew Szymanski, said. “This is the first time the USDBF will be producing its own national championship event and we are excited to be hosting this event at Nathan Benderson Park, one of the world's premier paddling venues. We expect this event will be the largest national championships in our organization's history.”

Dragon boat racing has been an integral component to the development of sports tourism and programming at Nathan Benderson Park over the last decade. In 2014, Sarasota County welcomed more than 2,500 paddlers for the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission Dragon Boat Festival, which was also the first major international event hosted at the park. The park is home to two competitive dragon boat teams, NBP Survivors in Sync and NBP Dragons.

“SANCA is committed to working with the USDBF to provide the best possible experience for its clubs,” said Stephen V. Rodriguez, chief operating officer of SANCA at Nathan Benderson Park. “We recognize the importance of this inaugural event for USDBF and the sport of dragon boat racing in the U.S., and we are confident there is no better place than Nathan Benderson Park to create a first-class stage on which the athletes will perform.”

“This is also a great opportunity to expose the sport to our area residents, and maybe inspire some to get up, get out and join one of our community dragon boat program at Nathan Benderson Park,” he added.

Visit Sarasota County anticipates the 2021 Club Crew National Championships will provide a boost to Sarasota area businesses during a traditionally slower month for tourism. Additionally, event officials predict some teams may travel to the destination for a training trip in the months leading up to the event. 

“Hosting two major dragon boat events in consecutive years provides Sarasota County with an opportunity to strategically amplify all that we are doing with the sport in our destination,” said Shelby Connett, director of sports at Visit Sarasota County. “We look forward to continue fostering a long-term relationship with the USDBF by providing a world-class location and event services that can help the sport continue to grow in the U.S.”

The COVID-19 pandemic will be closely monitored as planning progresses. Adjustments will be made as necessary, and all parties will develop safety plans that adhere to CDC guidelines to ensure risks are minimized for athletes, spectators, and the local community.

About the U.S. Dragon Boat Federation

USDBF, established as a member of the International Dragon Boat Federation in 1991, is the official national governing body for the sport of dragon boat racing in the U.S. Its mission is to promote the growth and development of dragon boating in the U.S. for fitness, recreation, and team building at all levels of competition.

About Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates at Nathan Benderson Park

Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates Inc. (SANCA) is a not-for-profit 501c3 business created to manage Nathan Benderson Park (NBP), a community/public asset and world-class, multi-use sports venue. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for our community and be an economic generator for our region. SANCA’s primary purpose is to develop and promote NBP as a world-class event center, team training site and Sarasota County park, while providing outreach programs through recreation, safety training, education and volunteering as a service to our community. For more information, go to

About Sarasota County

Visit Sarasota County (VSC) leads and supports the tourism industry in Sarasota County by providing the highest quality, and most innovative, marketing programs and promotions to ensure the continued growth of tourism and travel from visitors around the world. It is the mission of VSC to make Sarasota County a better place by promoting our community on the world stage. To learn more, visit