Welcome to Oxford Paddlers for Life!

We are delighted you are interested in paddling with us. Here are a few bits of information you may find useful. Some of you will know each other; please do introduce yourselves if you don’t, and look out for each other.

Paddling a dragon boat is all about fun and exercising as a team, you can work as hard or as little as you want during the session, so do your best within your limits – nobody is going to say anything if you find yourself needing a rest or unable to do things, we all have off days and different limits that can catch us by surprise at times. 

Part of the teamwork is getting the boat ready and into the water, and then out the water and putting it away again. Many hands make light work and it is much easier if we all muck in together. Being proactive in looking after and giving back to others is good for you physically and psychologically!  There is a list of jobs to do on the day.

We are moored at Dorchester Sailing Club and usually paddle on Saturdays 09.30 am at the boat, and Tuesday eves from 7pm (from about May – September) at the boat; check your emails and the Events page. If you plan to attend, please make sure you sign up. There are a few jobs that need doing before we can get on the water (e.g. taking the tarpaulin off the boat) so the more people that can come earlier (9.30 am and 6.30pm) the better. 

We’ll often have a tea or coffee and cake in the Sailing Club afterwards.

WhatsApp group: if you would like to be on this group please email info@oxfordpfl.org along with your mobile number. It’s extremely handy if you are stuck in traffic/ running late etc. and also very sociable.

Safety first: 

We want to safely enjoy paddling together on the river, and with this in mind:

  • Very important: please ensure you have filled out your indemnity form so we have emergency contact details. 
  • We will never go out if conditions are dangerous (yellow status), if in doubt check the environment agency website.
  • We will also assess the wind strength before going out, the helm has the final decision and can cancel or cut short a session at any point.
  • We will never go out without buoyancy aids, ensure yours fits, we will show you how to check. 
  • If you can’t swim please tell the helm.
  • We have decided that there needs to be a minimum of 10 paddlers in the boat for each session.
  • Everyone needs to complete the health and indemnity form annually and inform Anne-Marie Haigh or Sarah Hepworth (or their deputies) of any significant changes, your information is confidential and is only used if you have a health problem during a paddling session for either first aid purposes or to inform the emergency services.
  • Please be mindful of washing your hands – lake water is not clean, there are toilets at Sailing Club House.
  • Our safeguarding policy is here for any safeguarding issues please email safeguardingopfl@gmail.com


Dorchester Sailing Club is accessible by car (Abingdon Rd, Dorchester, OX10 7LP), and there is ample parking on site. The nearest bus stop is on the A4074 at Benson, with a 10 – 15 min walk to the club.

Clothing and equipment:

  • Wear lots of stretchy, comfortable layers to paddle in, we will stop to remove layers if we need to and you can tie them to your seat. Waterproof bottoms are useful in the winter, as is a hat or something to keep your ears warm. A light cagoule is also useful. Old trainers are good in winter, in summer you can wear flipflops, crocs, sliders etc. Some people like to wear cycling gloves/waterproof gloves.
  • Never wear jeans or wellies please, they are not allowed in the boat as they will pull you down if you are in the water. 
  • There will be a small drybag to put car keys in, in the boat. 
  • Please bring a water bottle, with a covered lid, they are kept by your feet and it can be wet and muddy there. 

Beyond Paddling

Oxford Paddlers for Life is a charity and team, and as such there is always all kinds of work going on in the background; for it to thrive we need help with this and if you can do anything (big or small, e.g. admin, practical, social events organising, grant forms) in any way we would be very grateful – and you get to be an important part of a local team and community, as well as part of the national UK Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Team community, and internationally the International Breast Cancer Paddler’s Commission. It’s an amazing community wherever you travel you can ask to paddle with nearby teams, and you will make friends with people all around the world!