T.C. Williams High School Crew
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Regatta Tips

Regatta Day

TC Crew competes in regattas up and down the east coast.  These races are organized by host schools or clubs, or by organizations such as the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (VASRA) or the Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA), and include private as well as public school crews. 

Regattas are exciting to watch, though you'll almost never see the entire race from start to finish.  Some people like to watch from the finish line, others from mid-course.  Wherever you sit or stand, there's plenty of opportunity to join in the "Go T-C" cheers.

To get some of the flavor of a regatta, look at the photos, or watch this video.

About the Races

In the spring season, regattas are sprint races.  Crews are matched by age, weight or ability and race against each other side-by-side down a 1500-meter course.  Depending on the number of teams participating, there may be several elimination races, in which boats are seeded by past performance, leading to semifinals and finals.  Most races are six boats at a time.  The shells are followed by a judge-referee in a launch, who is responsible for timing the race and ensuring that it is conducted properly. 

Most races are launched from "stake boats," anchored platforms on which someone holds onto the stern of the boat until the  command to "go."  Stake boat holders, guided by an official, move the shells back and forth until their bows are aligned so that everyone starts from the same position.  A race official gives the command to start, and they're off!

The finish line is sighted from a judges' stand on the shore.  A signal is given when each shell crosses the line - it may be a blast from an air horn, a flag, or both.  Each lane is assigned a timer with a stopwatch, because some races may be decided by tenths of a second.  More sophisticated races, like the Stotesbury Cup, have electronic timing and photo finishes. 

For more tips on regatta watching, check the US Rowing Parents' Page.

Who's Who?

Crews are identified by unique designs on the blades of their oars.  TC boys crew oars are white with blue and red stripes.  TC girls crew rows with solid white oars.  The blade markings for schools in the region can be found here.  For an exhaustive display of US high school blades (over 480 at last count), check out Blades of the World.

Getting There

Except for local races in Alexandria or Georgetown, plan on spending the better part of the day at a regatta.  We've provided driving directions to the regatta sites, and we post race schedules as soon as they are available.  But give yourself plenty of time, to ensure that you don't miss your son or daughter's race.  Car pooling is always a good idea.  Note that the team takes a bus to and from TC Williams to all regattas.

What To Bring

Keep in mind that our regatta season is in the spring, when the weather can be unpredictable.  Crews row in the rain (but never in a thunderstorm, or if the wind makes conditions dangerous on the water).  Check the forecast before you leave home, and dress appropriately.  Remember you're going to be outdoors, and it may be muddy, so leave the good shoes at home.  Wear layers, so you can peel off the foul weather gear when the sun comes out.

Other things to bring include binoculars, camera, folding chairs, a cooler with water and soft drinks, and anything else you want to make yourself comfortable.  At the St. Andrews regattas, we set up the tent and serve food for the rowers, and parents bring dishes for a potluck lunch.  At the Occoquan there's no space for team tents, but there are concession stands at the launch area and the grandstand where you can get food and drinks.  At Stotesbury and Nationals, the tent cuisine is available to families for a nominal charge, and there are food vendors on site. 

There are other regatta tips that are specific to different regatta sites.  Check the directions page, and watch for more information in the weekly Hotline.

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