Patricia Carswell |

Kitbag essentials: What to bring to a regatta

Award-winning blogger and journalist, Patricia Carswell, shares her regatta kit list in her exclusive British Rowing blog – Life on the river

There are some free-and-easy individuals who pitch up at a regatta carrying nothing but an elderly all-in-one in a tatty carrier bag and maybe a fiver stuffed in their back pocket. I am not one of those people. Having the right kit is almost as important as remembering to train, and in the 10 years that I’ve been racing, I’ve tweaked and refined a list of essentials.


Hot weather must-haves

I always keep an eye on the forecast. Typical British summer weather means being prepared for everything from high winds and Baltic temperatures to blistering sunshine, interspersed with hail, often all within in the space of an hour.

If the sun’s even vaguely likely to come out, don’t forget sunscreen, hat and cover-up kit. If it’s really scorchio, I recommend dunking your cap and even a long-sleeved top in cold water and wearing them on the way to the start. It’s saved me from heatstroke on several occasions.

Cold/wet gear

Equally, there’s nothing worse than returning to base camp, shivering and rain-soaked, only to discover the damp has seeped into your spare clothes because your bag was sitting on wet grass. A waterproof rucksack or drybag will solve this.

Wellies are a smart move, even if you don’t need them to boat, and I’ve been known to bring warm, fur-lined ones on a chilly day. Bring ALL the spare kit you’ve got, and if you’re lucky enough to have a dryrobe® (or a variation on the theme), your crewmates will mock right up until the moment they start eyeing it with envious longing.

Chair/picnic rug

I have never, ever regretted lugging a fold-up chair to a regatta. There isn’t always much time to sit down, but that sweet relief of taking the weight off your legs between races (especially if the ground is damp) makes the extra luggage totally worth the effort of carrying it.


Most regattas have a splendid tea tent with Bake Off-worthy sandwiches and cakes, a BBQ offering everything from burgers to bacon butties and a bar where you can fill the pot you just won with something celebratory. And then, of course, there are the stalls selling rigger jiggers to replace the one that just went walkabout and clothing you suddenly realise you have to have in your life. Nowadays, many tea tent can take contactless payment, but have a few quid on you in case they don’t.


Food and drink

Whilst I’m all in favour of supporting the host club by buying my share of baked goods, before a race I prefer to have my own food (pasta salad is a fail-safe) plus a few gels in case races take place around lunchtime – the cake comes later.

As far as drinks are concerned, lots of clubs are now going single-use-plastic-free, so remember to bring a reusable water bottle and keep cup in your bag, too.

Miscellaneous bits and pieces

And finally… as well as a rucksack I usually have a bumbag for carrying around my cash, plus the following:


Optional extras:

  • Shackle key – look it up, it’s incredibly useful
  • Headache pills (I always get a headache after racing)
  • Plasters (I’m clumsy)
  • Hair elastic (even if you don’t need it, someone else is bound to)

This may all seem like ridiculous overkill to you, but any time I’ve tried to travel light I’ve regretted it – as has the person with the tatty carrier bag, who relies on people like me to be well equipped.

Photos: David Allan Photography, Patricia Carswell