Consecutive championships will be in 2023, 2025 and 2027,
following 2021’s successful championship event


CONTACT: Douglas E. Jessmer
NBP Communications Manager

SARASOTA-BRADENTON, Fla.: Get ready for three more U.S. Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew National Championships for Nathan Benderson Park.

The federation (USDBF) conducted its first national dragon-boat paddling championship in October at the park, with all the United States’ world berths on the line in the same place, rather than scattered at regional championships. After heralding the success of the unified national championships, USDBF’s board unanimously voted to hold its next three championships at the park in 2023, 2025 and 2027.

The bid was presented by representatives of Visit Sarasota County and Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy, the park’s nonprofit manager. The USDBF decision comes on the heels of a 2021 event that welcomed nearly 1,600 attendees from 25 clubs across the nation, and generated an estimated $890,000 in economic impact to Sarasota County.

The park is also host to the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Club Crew World Championships July 18-24, where winners of the USDBF national championship will compete for medals. The IDBF chose the Sarasota-Bradenton bid at its 2019 congress in Pattaya, Thailand.

“NBP continues to prove to be a successful sport attraction that impacts not only our community, but Florida,” Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy Chief Operating Officer and Interim CEO Stephen V. Rodriguez said. “We thank the USDBF for their continued confidence in awarding these championships to Sarasota County and NBP. We look forward to welcoming the clubs to the park.”

USDBF President Mark Kane said the national federation is “thrilled” to host the best club crews in the world in Sarasota.

“Our experience there in October 2021 was phenomenal,” he said. “Nathan Benderson Park’s world-class venue and its facilities are ideally suited for these championships, and we are confident they will continue to be an outstanding partner.”

Club crew national championships qualify entire teams for world berths, and are held in alternating years to the process that selects individual paddlers for the U.S. National Team. National teams compete in biennial World Nations Championships.

“Sarasota is quickly becoming a sought-after destination for dragon boat racing across the nation and the world,” Visit Sarasota County Director of Sports Shelby Connett said. “In addition to offering amazing racing amenities and customer service at Nathan Benderson Park, the proximity of the course to shopping, dining, arts and culture and award-winning beaches in Sarasota County are huge selling points for the race organizers.”

Connett said the Sarasota-Bradenton area offers “a total package both on and off the water.”

Nicole Rissler, the director of Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, said “the awarding of three consecutive championships demonstrates Sarasota County’s dedication to providing a world-class park experience for our residents and visitors, and its commitment to sports tourism.”

At the 2021 Club Crew Nationals, three boats from the NBP Paddling Program earned world berths to the IDBF championships. The NBP Survivors In Sync breast-cancer-survivor team took the overall gold in the breast cancer survivors (BCS) division, and will represent the nation in the BCS division’s standard boat category. The NBP Warriors all-cancer paddlers took an overall gold at national competition in short boats, and the NBP Dragons community team took honors in the Senior B (ages 50 and older) mixed short boat earned an overall silver to reach world competition.

Standard boats carry 20 paddlers and are more than 40 feet long, while short boats carry half the number of paddlers. Both have a drummer in the front and a steer oarsman in the back.

The NBP Paddling Program has four teams, including the NBP Survivors In Sync breast-cancer survivors team, the NBP Warriors all-cancer survivor team, the NBP Dragons community team and the NBP Veterans team for military veterans wounded, able and disabled alike.

— NBP —



About Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy: Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy 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. The Conservancy’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. See more at

About Visit Sarasota County: Visit Sarasota County 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. The mission of VSC is to make Sarasota County the must-experience destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast. To learn more, visit

About the U.S. Dragon Boat Federation: The U.S. Dragon Boat Federation (USDBF) is the governing body of dragon boating in the United States and a member of the International Dragon Boat Federation. The mission of the USDBF 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. The organization offers training, clinics and certification for dragon boating officials, coaches, paddlers and festival organizers. See

aerial shot of Nathan Benderson Park