Sept 20 – Parents Week – Regatta’s

You will find this out quickly.  Watching regatta’s can be confusing.  Regatta’s are notorious  for lots of waiting, fast racing, and more waiting.  If you arent ready, or dont know what you are looking for, you might miss it!

Just to be clear. this is a parents guide to regattas. not a coach’s guide, or an athlete’s guide.

1. First things first.  Regatta Prep.

  • There are a few things that we recommend doing before attending, and subsequently bringing to regattas.
    • Check the weather.  Sounds simple enough, but you would be amazed how many regattas we have been to and seen parents either freezing, soaking wet, or sunburned and sweaty.  Just check the weather.
      • Weather at regattas in the fall and spring can be weird.  Overpacking for a regatta is not a bad idea.
        We have been to regattas in the fall that start out at 40degrees, and end at 85degrees.
        We also have been the regattas that start out at a wonderful 65 and sunny and ended in a snow squall [no, we’re not joking].
    • Footwear. Regatta’s are watched on the banks of rivers.  Even on the best days the banks of rivers can be a mess.
      • If it is raining, might rain, or rained yesterday, boots are not overrated.
      • If its hot and sunny, it will be dusty. Don’t wear your nicest shoes.
    • Check out the venue.  Each venue can be very different.
      • Most venues dont actually have seating, so if you want to sit, you better bring a camp chair.
      • Because of the way rowing is set up, if you plan to stay in one place, you might be limited on view.  If you want to see more, make sure you bring a bike!
    • Regatta backpack.  Trust us.  Its just easier.
      • binoculars
      • water
      • snack [might be for you, might be for your athlete]
      • sunscreen
      • [if its raining] poncho
      • [if its raining] a few garbage bags.  they are super handy to keep things dry
      • [if its cold or snowing] extra hat and gloves
      • something to read – this is a Pro Tip from a mom who had 3 kids row.
    • Pack a towel.  I don’t know why, they just always come in handy.

2. At the Regatta:

  • Parking is unpredictable.  Most regatta venues are not prepared to host the HUGE number of cars that show up.  We ALWAYS recommend checking out the race website to know where to park.  Philly and DC especially!
  • Walk around and see the boats.  Its fun to be able to get up close and personal with the boats.  Most sporting events don’t afford the opportunity to get up close and personal with the equipment.
  • PLEASE, PLEASE don’t touch without asking the coaches first.  These are precision boats and coaches spend a lot of time dialing in the boats.
  • One more tip for parents on behalf of all the coaches out there.  Please let the coaches have your athletes undivided attention for ~30 minute before they launch [get on the water] and for ~15 minutes after they come off the water.  Keeping the attention of high school kids is harder than keeping the attention of toddlers.

3. Watching rowing:  US Rowing put these tips together and its hard to say it better than they did, so they get all the credit for this next section.

  • The crew that’s making it look easy is most likely the one doing the best job. While you’re watching, look for continuous, fluid motion of the rowers. The rowing motion shouldn’t have a discernible end or beginning.
  • Synchronization. Rowers strive for perfect synchronization in the boat.
  • Clean catches of the oarblade. If you see a lot of splash, the oarblades aren’t entering the water correctly. The catch should happen at the end of the recovery, when the hands are as far ahead of the rower as possible. Rowers who uncoil before they drop the oarblades are sacrificing speed and not getting a complete drive.
  • Even oarblade feathering. When the blades are brought out of the water, they should all move horizontally close to the water and at the same height. It’s not easy, especially if the water is rough.
  • The most consistent speed. Shells don’t move like a car – they’re slowest at the catch, quickest at the release. The good crews time the catch at just the right moment to maintain the speed of the shell.
  • Rowing looks graceful, elegant and sometimes effortless when it’s done well. Don’t be fooled. Rowers haven’t been called the world’s most physically-fit athletes for nothing. A 2,000-meter rowing race demands virtually everything a human being can physically bring to an athletic competition – aerobic ability, technical talent, exceptional mental discipline, ability to utilize oxygen efficiently and in huge amounts, balance, pain tolerance, and the ability to continue to work when the body is demanding that you stop.
  • If a crew “catches a crab,” it means the oarblade has entered the water at an angle instead of perpendicularly. The oarblade gets caught under the surface and will slow or even stop a shell.
  • A “Power 10” is a call by the coxswain for 10 of the crew’s best, most powerful strokes. Good coxswains read the course to know how many strokes remain for their crew to count down to the finish.
  • Crews are identified by their oarblade design. The USAblades are red on top and blue on the bottom, with a white triangle at the tip.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you win an Olympic medal or don’t make the finals – each crew still carries their boat back to the rack.
  • Coxswains from first-place boats worldwide are thrown into the water by their crews.
  • Coxswains don’t now and probably never did yell “stroke! stroke!” Similar to a jockey, their job is to implement the coach’s strategy during the race, in addition to steering and letting the rowers know where they stand in the race and what they need to do to win.

Race watching tips credit to US Rowing at

See Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays Parent Week tips here:

Monday –

Tuesday –

Wednesday –