REGATTA 101 (Tips, Directions and What to bring and expect during a regatta)
If you’ve never been to a regatta before, you might have some questions about what to expect. Here are some tips for first time regatta attendees.
Where to go: Driving Directions and a map to our home regattas are here.
Map of Sandy Run Park: (The star on the map shows where Volunteer Check – In is located if you are volunteering).
When to go: If the regatta schedule is available ahead of time we will post it to the website or send it out as an email attachment Thursday evening or Friday morning so you can plan your day. Your rower will probably find out his/her race schedule on the Friday so ask them when they will race and in what boat. Once you get an idea of the schedule, you need to get to the race area finish line in time to see the race. For regattas on the Occoquan, remember that there is a one mile walk required from the Sandy Run parking areas to the finish line via wooded trails. We suggest you leave home at least one hour before the race start time to allow enough time to drive there, park and then walk to the finish line area. For championship regattas (Ted Phoenix and VSRC/States) allow 2-3 hours. You may be parking in a satellite parking area with shuttle bus service to the regatta.
What to wear: Dress casually. A warm jacket, boots/shoes good for walking on hilly dirt paths that often turn to mud, and of course your official Viking Crew hat especially on sunny days. It is sometimes 10 degrees cooler down at the river than at your house. Rowers’ uniforms are determined by their coaches but normally they all compete in the same Woodbridge outfit.
Regatta costs: At Sandy Run regattas, the parking cost depends on the number of people you have in your vehicle – they encourage car pooling. The maximum cost would be between $15-$20. The funds go to the Park Authority and VASRA, not the teams. There also is a shuttle van to take you out and back to the spectator site if you want to avoid the trail hike from the parking lots to the finish line. Each way in the van is $2 per person.
What to bring: If you want to sit down during the events you can walk the trail or take the van to the finish line area where you will find a concrete bleachers area. Bring a soft cushion or stadium seat. Many Woodbridge Crew parents congregate on ‘The Point’ just east of the bleachers about 300 yards from the finish line. There is no permanent seating on The Point so bring a lightweight folding chair. Binoculars help you see the action as the races come down the racecourse. Sunscreen is recommended (even when it is cold) due to the reflected rays off the water. Bring water or plan to use the concession stand near the bleachers (soda, water, hot dogs, burgers, etc., are offered for sale). Each week, a special T-shirt will be available for that particular regatta. A copy of the regatta schedule is available for purchase at the snack bar stands.
Where to park: For those events happening on the Occoquan, park at the end of the access road to Sandy Run Park in one of the parking lots. There will be traffic guides in the road to direct you and to take your $10 parking fee. Everyone is required to pay the fee, even those performing volunteer jobs.
Regatta operations:100-150 volunteers are required to run regattas every week. The only paid staff on regatta days are the police and on-site athletic trainers. Parents of rowers (one per family) are required to sign up for one regatta support position each spring. See our volunteering point of contact get more info.
What you’ll see: A lot of kids having fun rowing surrounded by a lot of people having fun watching. Regattas typically run 5-10 hours, depending on how many boats are entered.
A regatta safety checklist
- Tips for surviving a regatta:
- In order to remain warm, you must remain dry
- It is always about 10 degrees colder near the water
- It is just as important to stay hydrated in the cold as in the heat so drink liquids.
- Recommended clothing for spectators:
- Multiple layers are better than one layer, even in warm weather
- Good, warm, comfortable, waterproof walking shoes or boots. The dirt paths at Sandy Run will turn muddy when the crowds arrive so don’t wear your best, white sneakers!
- Rain gear
- Hats with visors
- Additional recommendations for volunteers and participants:
- A complete change of clothing
- A dry towel
- If you’re assigned volunteer duties place you on the water, do not wear red or orange clothing/hats
- Recommended gear for spectators:
- Sun screen
- Stadium seat
- Pocket hand warmers
- Lip balm
- Insect repellant
- Important facts for parents and athletes to keep in mind:
- Keep allergy medication with you at all times
- Wear a medical alert!
- Please let your coaches know if your student has allergies or other health concerns
- Athletes should carry whatever medications they may need even during the race.
- All regattas have volunteer EMT squads on site. They are there for your benefit. They, like everyone else involved in the regatta, are donating their time. Please let them know how much you appreciate their contributions. Please note that several laws govern what the EMT can and cannot do in the event of a medical emergency. The EMTs provide us with two levels of response: basic life support and advanced life support. In the event that advanced life support is activated, they are legally required to evacuate the victims to the hospital to be further attended to by a physician. Generally, in addition to a serious accident, any situation that would require an EMT to administer medication, other than oxygen, is considered advanced life support. If you or your student receives minor first aid from someone other than the EMT during the course of the regatta, please stop by and have the EMTs review your incident at your earliest convenience.