Workshop: Regatta Preparation

summarized by David DeWinter
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Jim Cooper – Boatman/Coach, Norwalk River Rowing; USRowing Safety Committee

The 3-Sentence Summary

Every club has unique requirements on what equipment it needs to take to regattas and what its staff and rowers need to do before, during, and after the regatta. Ensure you have checklists for the following: pre-season, before the regatta, the trailer load, items to bring, driving safety, race day, and unloading.


OarBoard – Sponsor

0:40 OarBoard Sponsorship by Adam Kreek – Affordable way to grow your rowing club, even during COVID

4:15 Weybridge Rowing Club case study: the club had trouble retaining and teaching members, and the OarBoard enabled them to get people started safely without advanced coaches and instructors.

5:41 Argos Rowing Club case study: (1) increase camp seats for juniors, (2) rent boats to passersby, and (3) speed up to learn to row. 107 new athletes joined the club, and the memberships and camp fees for those rowers paid for the cost of the OarBoards within the first year.

8:17 Values:

  1. Alternative programming and revenue streams
    1. Day camps when kids need more variety
    2. Corporate team building
    3. Birthday parties
  2. Excellent for teaching boat skills (Turning, steering, games…)
  3. Very fast to get a new rower on the water


11:25 Jim Cooper: rower for 35 years, boatman at Norwalk Rowing

12:45 Preface: we all have unique challenges. Stick with what works, but this is a starting point based on my experiences.

Before the Regatta

13:19 Pre-regatta checklist (too many items to list – only a few below)

  • What events? Share the schedule with athletes/parents/staff
  • Verify entries are still open
  • Reserve transportation
  • Reserve lodging and food venues
  • Discuss, verify, and register entries
  • Confirm waiver/USRowing membership status
  • Determine/communicate regatta/trailer fees for masters
  • Parent volunteer ramp-up
  • Verify reservations
  • Truck and Trailer Needs
    • Inspection
    • Truck: oil, brakes, wiring
    • Trailer: tires, brakes…
  • Assess straps – Discard old, order new
  • Check with other clubs for transport needs

18:26 Days Before

  • Communicate loading and travel plans
  • Choose final lineups
  • Confirm waiver/USRowing membership
  • Assign room partners
  • Confirm travel and lodging
  • Check regatta schedule for changes
  • Pre-fuel truck and verify all tire pressures
  • Transport for non-Clubs shells

20:04 Loading Day

  • Will you row before?
  • Post trailer loading diagram on truck
  • Assign lower bays for equipment
  • Wash and de-rig shells
  • Assess heel ties/bow balls
  • Reassess straps
  • Foam cushions for bows
  • Teach strapping requirements – do what works for your club – and then double-check (plucking a note means it’s tight)
  • Load shells and oars
  • Add flags on sterns for highway safety
  • Verify lighting and brakes
  • Verify regatta schedule timelines
  • Final talks with athletes
  • Check rigging, spacers, wheels, audio, wiring, etc.
  • Bundle riggers (rope) and label them
  • Load enough slings
  • Bring extra lowboy chocks

Venue Checklists

26:01 Things to bring

  • Club box for tools
  • Walkie talkies/megaphones
  • Bicycles/scooters (2k is a long distance)
  • Cox Boxes, Speed Coaches, Chargers
  • First Aid: Trailer and Food Tent Area
  • Extra toilet paper
  • Large trash bags – they double as rain jackets 🙂
  • Laundry Baskets for sneakers
  • Bow markers
  • Folding chairs
  • Binoculars
  • Heat: Cool with ice
  • Cold: More clothes

30:38 Spare parts

  • Wheels, seats
  • Heel tie repair, pre-cut nylon cord
  • Large zip ties
  • Nuts/bolts/hardware
  • Back stays or parts
  • Oarlocks and inserts
  • Spacers
  • Top nuts
  • Rigger side bolts
  • T-bolts
  • Skegs, putty, sealer
  • WIDE vinyl tape (temp puncture fix)
  • Glue/epoxy
  • Oar collars/buttons
  • Audio parts for backup
  • Bow balls
  • Lube cans

33:31 Always put more weight on the tongue than the back (60/40).

35:00 Driving Safety

  • Safety is responsibility of the driver
  • Ensure drivers have required licenses and experience
  • Assign co-pilots
  • Apprentice future drivers as copilots
  • Drivers: Know your routes, especially with trailers
  • Allow for rest breaks: take short naps – 20 minutes loses the haze
  • Loading/race days are exhilarating and exhausting – prepare for it

39:12 Race Day: performance and discipline on land is related to performance on water

  • Assign race packet pickup person
  • Communicate trailer, tent, first aid location to all
  • Assign clear space for athlete bags
  • Rig shells according to schedule
  • Verify shell electronics
  • Schedule team meetings
  • Post your events/times on the whiteboard
  • Verify with all athlete’s equipment assignments and hands-on times
  • Know your return and hot-seating times
  • Athlete needs: Inhalers, meds?
  • Assign helpers for oars and sneakers
  • Better to be early or on-time vs. late to the line
  • Stay calm and focused if you’re late
  • Return all oars and slings to the trailer
  • Collect medals
  • Reload trailer and truck
  • Verify straps are secure
  • Driving checklist again

After the Regatta

45:46 Unloading/Post Regatta

  • When to unload: end of race day or next practice?
  • Unload and rack or unload and rig?
  • Write down equipment needs: what’s broken, what needs service
  • Debrief meetings (coaches and athletes)
  • Share feedback with LOC
  • Note safety hazards to LOC
  • Update your checklist


51:08 What’s the most forgotten item at a regatta?

Slings. Also, I make friends with my fellow teams because I know they’ll ask me for stuff they forgot, and I’ll ask them for stuff that I forgot.

52:03 Any COVID-related challenges?

Different regulations depending on where you go. Make sure you know the requirements for the regatta (negative test? temperature checks?) and plan ahead of time. What help do you welcome from outside your team (e.g. parents)?

54:49 Any other great tools or workarounds?

Vinyl tape, hammer, zip ties, and an awl (poke holes for zip ties, etc.)

55:35 Service your trailer once a year.

56:43 Other tools:

  • A custom 3ft nut driver. Impossible to overtighten!
  • Dremel for drilling holes in a foot stretcher plate, or taking off a rusty bolt
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