Head Coach Darwin Li has been involved with paddling since 1996. He has been paddling for over 10 years and coaching for 5. As a paddler, he has paddled for numerous competitive teams including Crew Yahoo, Lotus Sports Club, CIBC Imperial Dragons, Alcan Team SUCCESS, and the False Creek Racing Canoe Club (FCRCC). He has also cross-trained in both outrigger canoe and flatwater paddling. The highlight of his paddling career was in 2004 when he won 1st place in the Canadian Club CrewDragon Boat Championships as a member of FCRCC.
Darwin began coaching competitively in 2004 with RGL United where he led the team to a 4 division improvement and helped them to record their best-ever finishes. Highlights include 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the Kelowna Dragon Boat Festival and a 2nd place finish at the Taiwanese Dragon Boat Festival in 2007 and 2008. He also coached the Eye of the Dragon, a visually impaired team, with Dan Hebert. He was also the novice outrigger coach for FCRCC in 2007. In 2008 he was hired as the Dragon Boat Coach for the Vancouver Ocean Sports club. Upon returning to his childhood hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, he coached the newly formed Oil City Crew dragon boat team to 2nd place at the Vernon Dragon Boat Festival, 1st Place at the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival in 2009 and 2011, and 14th place at National’s in the toughest field in Canadian dragon boat history. Three of his paddlers have previously been selected for Team Canada, of whom two became world champions.
In the local scene, he has run two paddling clinics for paddlers in the Edmonton area. He has also completed Parts A and B of the National Coaching Certification Program.
Having paddled competitively in the coaching-rich waters of the BC Lower Mainland, Darwin sought out and was privileged to have been coached by some of the top coaches in the world including:
– Rick Nu’u, former Molokai Outrigger Champion
– Dominic Shew, Alcan Team SUCCESS Coach, International Coach Consultant, and 2010 Dragon Boat National Champion
– Jackie Webber of Water’s Edge Sports Performance
– Andrea Dillon of Water’s Edge Sports Performance and co- founder of FCRCC
– Kamini Jain, 2-time Olympian, False Creek High Performance Dragon Boat Coach, and Crew Director of the Canadian National Premier Open and Mixed Teams
– Alan Carlsson – Former FCRCC Head Coach and personal kayak Coach for Kamini Jain
As an administrator, Darwin chairs the Development of Dragon Boat in Western Canada Committee (DDBWC). This committee was created by and operates under Dragon Boat Canada and has been tasked with studying the present state of dragonboat, identifying problems, finding ways to improve the sport, and enacting solutions where possible. The DDBWC operates in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.