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Regatta Parent Guide

borrowed from Norwalk River Rowing

A guide for uninitiated parents found online and modified by Norcal Crew Parents

1. REGATTAS ARE A LOT OF WORK! Before the regatta, please volunteer for a tent shift. We’re constantly cutting fresh fruit, refilling the granola and making sandwiches. You’re more than welcome to leave the tent for a few minutes to watch your athlete’s race, even if it’s in the middle of your shift.

2.  REGATTAS ARE ALL DAY EVENTS. Sometimes just 1 day but as long as 3 days.  The athletes stay all day, no matter when their races are.  Normally the athletes all go and return on a bus, from the boathouse, usually leaving at some ungodly hour in the morning.  You know, like 4:00 a.m.  Even if you will be driving to the Regatta at the same time as the bus, your athlete should take the bus.  Why must the athletes go so early even if their race isn’t until later and return on the bus even if they are done with their races much earlier?  The athletes are needed to unload and rig the boats, and then de-rig and load the boats, and it builds team spirit when they travel together.

3. COXSWAINS AND COACHES MEETING – There is generally a coxswains and coaches meeting an hour before the regatta starts where the organizers go over the rules and the traffic patterns. If you have a coxswain, it’s important that they arrive in time for the coxswains and coaches meeting.

4.  COME AND WATCH. Many, but not all, parents come to the Regattas to watch their athlete row.  Parents do not necessarily stay all day.  Some are there most of the day to cheer for our boats, and others time their arrival to see their athlete race if they don’t need to be there earlier to do their parent tent duty.  Some parents leave once their athlete has raced unless they are not yet done with their parent tent duty (athletes stay).  Someone needs to be available to go down to our boathouse to meet the bus where our athletes will return at the end of the day – usually your athlete is told to call you 30 minutes before the bus arrives.  Don’t be late – everyone is tired, and the coaches need to stay until everyone is picked up.

5.  PARKING. The spectator parking lot is usually a good walk or shuttle bus ride away from the racing venue, so you need to allow time for that.  Sometimes there is a charge for parking (usually $10).

6.  PARENT TENT AND FOOD. Parents generally use the parent tent as home base. You can easily find it since it is Black or White and marked with the Norcal Crew logo. The parent tent provides food, drinks and snacks for the athletes at no charge. Depending on where the tent is compared to the finish line, some parents will head to the finish line for their athlete’s races.

7.  YOUR ATHLETE. Athletes generally hang around elsewhere (unless we have an extra tent), but come to the tent to get food, so don’t expect to see your athlete much during the day.  The athletes generally come to the tent in groups with their crew.  Timing depends on when they are racing.  When they are not racing or at the tent eating, the athletes can often be found hanging around the boats, the boat trailer or near the finish line.  They often show up at the tent about 30 minutes after their race (to get food).

8.  RACE SCHEDULES. The “heat sheets” (racing schedules) are generally posted on line, often on or  Just Google the regatta for more information.  The schedules are subject to change.  If you are timing your arrival for particular races it pays to check as late as the morning of the regatta and allow a cushion for parking.  Most spring and summer regattas use a heat system for events.  There may be heats early in the day, then the top boats advance to the finals later in the day. In large regattas, there may be semi-finals, too.

9.  OUTSIDE ALL DAY. At every regatta you will be outside all day.  Races will be held as long as the weather is safe, which is generally defined as not extraordinarily windy and no thunder.  Races will go on in the rain and cold and heat.  In the recent past, regattas have been canceled due to poor air quality from wildfires. The parent tent has room for food and a few people but not all the parents.  It bears repeating – you will be outside all day, no matter the weather, and you could be some distance from your car.  So, bring chairs and hats and sunglasses and if there is any chance of rain bring rain gear and if the weather is cold bring layers.  Binoculars can be useful.  A few people bring books or newspapers for when their athlete is not racing.  Some parents watch all of Norcal Crew races.  (Generally quite a few races.)  Many bring a phone or an iPad since most organizers post race results on line in nearly real time.  A camera can be nice to have — it is a beautiful sport, especially on a sunny day.  A few folks print and bring the heat sheets with them.

10.  MONEY FOR YOUR ATHLETE. While the athletes don’t need money for food during the day, some parents give their athletes a little money because they often want to buy a T-shirt or other gear offered by vendors at the regattas.

11. Check out the Norcal Handbook, Pages13-19 for more technical information on Equipment, Racing and Rowing. Remember: at the end of the day, we are all on the same team and a victory for one boat, no matter what level, is a victory for the whole team!  

Go Norcal!!