The regatta season is here – but is your club prepared? Jo Milborne from Oundle Town RC shares 10 top tips for a successful summer
Oundle is a small, inclusive club with lots of enthusiasm but not much kit. We have a competitive group and a recreational section, each of which contains novice adults, juniors and adaptive rowers, all sharing the same boats, coaches and facilities. This means that we have to be really organised to compete at a regatta!
The suggestions below are common sense, but should be especially pertinent to any club where equipment is used by many different crews.
1. Plan your racing calendar
Check out the regatta dates and plan your racing calendar according to crew availability. Don’t forget to look at when the school holidays fall. Lots of juniors (and their parents) forget they have booked holidays. Juniors often go on DofE expeditions at weekends in the summer term too.
2. Check you have enough equipment
Remember, if you are doubling up on boats or oars, that crews may get through several heats. Factor this into the events you decide to enter at each regatta.
3. Check your equipment and boats.
Plan a pre-season maintenance day to check that your equipment will pass the scrutiny Control Commission, although you should be doing this every time you go out for safety reasons.
Make sure that heel restraints are the correct length and strong enough; that odd bits of sticky / insulating tape are removed and that hull / canvasses are properly repaired. The bow ball should be taken off and the bows of the boat should be checked for damage before fixing a new bow ball.
Clean slides for a smooth feel at high rates too.
Cake and flapjacks will help keep the numbers up!
4. Check all aspects of your trailer.
Both the towing vehicle and the trailer must be legal and roadworthy. Check lights, trailer-boards, tyres, and insurance (vehicle and driver). If you have to borrow a trailer, check you are insured for use and transportation. Remember that the side-walls of the trailer tyres often perish before the tread goes.
5. Arrive 2 hours before your first race
In the run-up to each regatta, all coxes and rowers should be reminded to arrive in time to register, to collect their numbers, to rig their own boats and then row up to the start.
Additionally, all coaches should forward a copy of all regatta / event documentation to coxes and steer and ensure they take the necessary actions regarding registering, weighing in, rigging boats and fixing numbers to the boats and people.
6. Make sure that coxes remember to charge the cox boxes and bring them with them
On the day, coxes will also need to get weighed in plenty of time.
Regular boat checks are vital and should be done, ideally, before and after every outing
7. Has everyone got racing kit?
Club colours (or at least matching tops) will be required. Get your kit orders in early as the manufacturers are understandably busy at this time of year.
8. All competitors must have valid British Rowing membership for affiliated competitions
They will need to have renewed before you can make entries on BROE2.
Don’t forget to make any substitutions, ideally online at least the day before the regatta. Failure to do so will result in the whole crew being disqualified, and it’s important for safety reasons too that competitions know who’s in each boat.
9. Create a trailer-loading plan
This should state when de-rigging and loading boats will take place and where each boat should go on the trailer. A whiteboard on the boathouse door can be useful for drawing this.
Also check that they are available to re-rig after the event so other club members can use the equipment.
10. Finally, arrange which pub you are meeting in to wet your pots (does not apply to juniors)
Have your excuses at the ready, if needed too! At Oundle, we award ‘The Blazer of Shame’ for any howlers that we feel should be made public. Good hunting!
This article was first published in Rowing & Regatta magazine in April 2019.