24 Sep 2005 23:43:05
Henry Law
Anatomy of a "corporate regatta"

Agecroft RC followed the lead of a number of other clubs "down south"
and ran a corporate rowing challenge-thing last weekend. A great day
was had by all and a fair amount of money was raised for club funds, and
I thought it might be worth while relating how it worked, and one or two
of my own observations about things that will work better next time.

The format was simple: crews of four from local businesses were gathered
together, given three evening training outings of about 1.5 hours each,
with a coach from the club, and then there was a "regatta" in which the
competitors raced over about 250 yards. Entry fee was UKP120 per boat
which covered provision of the boat, the cox, the coaching and the race
itself, plus pots for the winners; it also included the all-important
temporary membership of the club. Apart from the normal rowing
requirements of being in good health and able to swim, it was required
that none of the contestants had ever rowed before. Crews were
all-male, all-female or two-of-each.

Around twenty crews entered and almost all got in their three training
outings. The regatta was organised with a points system for the first
two races (so every crew got two races at least); progression to the
knockout stage (semis and a final) was then on points and the time taken
to complete the course. Finals day included the normal appurtenances of
a local regatta (i.e. food and drink); commentary was in the plan but
had to be chopped because of technical failure.

Finals day was a great success - every competitor and onlooker that I
spoke to was having a wonderful time, despite iffy weather. The racing
was better than might have been expected (well, mostly), the food stall
was thronged, and the winners were absolutely delighted with themselves.
To cap it all, thirty people signed up for the learn-to-row course
which starts in a week or so (far more women than men, which I found
interesting). Not that anyone not connected with the competitors would
want to see them, but there are photos at

Observations for others wishing to do the same

1. Heavy load on coaches and (especially) on coxes. The usual
problems in a club multipled severalfold - especially since people
are paying for the privilege! You'll need to press-gang small
rowers to help with the coxing.

2. Getting all the crews on the water turned out to be quite a
logistical exercise. Most people want to fit the outings in
between Monday and Thursday; 20 crews means five each evening, in
addition to any "normal" club outings.

3. PA is essential, together with good communications between start and
finish marshals. The failure of ours didn't spoil things too much,
but some smart-alec commentator calling out what was happening, who
was leading, who was hitting the wall (!) would have made it even

4. Non-rowing crowds don't know to look for the food stall (if it's not
obvious); they need to be told how to behave at regattas!

5. Need to make the rules for progression through to the knock-out stage
quite clear. Some of our crews didn't realise that time counted as
well as coming first in their heat, and dawdled over the line since
their opponents were miles back. Even though they're novices they're
still competitive as hell!

I'll not mention her name here without permission, but Agecroft's thanks
go to the woman who conceived and organised the whole thing, initially
pretty much single-handed, until everyone joined in at the end.

27 Sep 2005 10:11:09
Re: Anatomy of a "corporate regatta"

Thanks for posting your post-mortem. It sounds like it was a great
event. We have a summer league here. I guess we're up to about 30-40
crews, 12-14 on a team. They row once a week for the summer and have
about 3-4 races capped by a championship race and party. Races are 500
meters side-by-side elimination. Most teams get a local bar to
sponsor them and then head out afterwards. One change is that new
rowers are required to attend an all-day learn-to-row training session
at the start of the season. That has made a big difference in the
program. Each coach has 2 sessions, one team each session, an
evening. I use it to introduce graduating juniors from our junior
team that have show an aptitude to coaching. They alternate coaching
one crew while I drive the launch and then we switch for the second
session. This has worked very well for all involved.

The final party is 'catered' by one of the local college rowing teams
as a fundraiser. They've done a great job with the food and beer,
while the adult club gets to help out a local program. Crooked River
Brewing used to help us out with a keg or two donation when they were
in town. It was my job to pick-up and guard the kegs until all rowers
were done racing. That was a good job.

This year that college team also took photos of the races and sold
them. I don't know how well that went for them.

The only sticking point is that due to the limited boats and
time-slots, many crews have a mixture of experienced and brand-new
rowers. Being on the water for only 1 1/2 hours of rowing a week, it's
challenging to give both a meaningful experience at times.

One person did quit after she found out she had to carry ( shudder )
the boat and oars to the river. Perhaps the colleges lost another
fundraising opportunity here - 'boat valet'.