Berkeley High Crew participates in several races during the fall season and approximately six to eight races during the spring season. Some are held locally at JLAC on the Oakland Estuary, while others require travel out of the area.
Dual races or “duals” (i.e. those against one other school) and smaller regattas usually occur locally, (such as Lake Merced in San Francisco, or the Port of Redwood City) or near Sacramento, while some larger regattas (such as The San Diego Crew Classic) require travel. Dual races usually last approximately 4 hours, while larger regattas will last all day and even stretch to two days (usually Saturday and Sunday) depending on how boats place. The coaches determine which boats and rowers participate in the various races; during Spring, it’s typical for all boats to participate in all races up to and including the Southwest Region Junior Championships at Lake Natoma (in Rancho Cordova, east of Sacramento). A boat’s participation in regattas and the Regionals is based on performance and dedication during the season; the coaches usually make a decision of which boats are participating only a week or two before the races. Boats receiving a medal (1st, 2nd or 3rd place) in their category at the Southwest Region Juniors qualify to attend USRowing Nationals, also at Lake Natoma, in June.
How Regattas Work
Events are divided by men/women, age, weight and discipline (sweep rowing— athletes with one oar, or sculling—athletes with two oars and with or without a coxswain). In the Fall, races may have a wide range of age divisions, but in the Spring the team usually competes in regattas limited to “junior” (high school level) teams. Spring races tend to be 2000 meters, depending on the course. Buoys mark the start, finish and each 500 meter interval along the course. Typically, each boat has a bow marker with a number to identify its lane assignment. Teams can be identified by the design of their oars as well as by their uniforms. Berkeley has yellow oars, most with a red letter “B” on the blade; the uniforms are primarily black with red and gold accents.
With the exception of transportation to (but not from) the Southwest Junior Regional Championships in Sacramento in May, (which is provided by BHS) all transportation to and from out-of-town races is provided by parent-arranged carpools. Rowers are not allowed to drive themselves to or from competitions. On the return trip, all rowers must travel first to the boathouse at JLAC to unload, wash, un-rig, and stow the boats and equipment.
What Rowers need to take to a race:
- jersey (racing shirt) or unisuit
- something warm to wear for rowing to the start/for racing (long spandex, polypro, etc) and while not competing.
- rainjacket or windbreaker for rainy weather
- hat and sunscreen
- water bottle
- extra clothes
- back pack or crew bag to keep gear together
What Parents/Spectators need to take to a race:
- Something warm to wear for early mornings when it can be cold
- Folding chairs
- Hat and sunscreen
- Camera *
- Your own snacks and lunch (food at the food table is for rowers only)
- Something to read during lulls in the action
- Bicycle (some venues have bike trails along the race course)
*parents/ spectators are encouraged to take pictures at the races and e-mail them to the Communications Coxswain for posting to the BHS crew website, or upload them to the BHS Crew photo gallery at SmugMug.com (http://www.smugmug.com/photos/ guest/79d7TN/jackets).
Race Day Food
The crew parents contribute morning snacks and lunch to the race table, such as bagels, fruit, sandwich makings, energy bars, hot chocolate mix, Gatorade, and water on the day of the race for the rowers. Sign-ups for bringing food to the races take place at the All Parent Meeting in January. The food committee determines the variety and quantity of food requested for the parents to bring to the race course for the rowers (providing food for a race does not count toward volunteer hours). Disposable plastic water bottles are discouraged. Large water jugs and cups are provided at the food table, and rowers are encouraged to bring personal water bottles for use in the boats.
Since race food is strictly for the consumption of rowers, some enterprising parents have established the parent’s “Hospitality Suite,” providing coffee and snacks, to which everyone is encouraged to contribute. Many parents have discovered how quickly they can make new friends when accompanied by homebaked treats or a box of donuts.
On the evening before spring races (and occasionally in the Fall), a pasta dinner is held for the rowers. The crews (split as men/women, and usually as novice/varsity) and coaches gather at various homes that parents have offered (one per race). Other parents typically prepare the food, serve it, and help clean up afterward—although the exact arrangement is at the discretion of the hosting family. The dinners are usually scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. after the boats have been loaded on the trailers.
Southwest Region Junior Championships
This is the last and biggest regular race of the spring season (known until 1994 as the California Junior Championships, and still commonly referred to as “CJs”), which is held in early May. The regatta takes place at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma (by the Nimbus Dam, east of Sacramento on Highway 50). It is a three-day event in which the teams stay in hotels near the racecourse. The CJs committee makes arrangements for the rowers’ hotels and meals during the two-and-a-half-day stay. Chaperones are required for the nights the rowers are in hotels, and carpool volunteers ferry the rowers to and from the events, practices, and hotels. The committee also organizes food at the race venue as there are few commercial food vendors at the regatta site. The rowers have most of their meals provided at the racecourse by parent volunteers—occasionally without benefit of electricity or running water. Parents volunteer to bring the necessary food and drink for rowers, and families are invited for lunch on Saturday and Sunday
Transportation is provided to the CJ’s regatta by a Berkeley High School bus. There is no return bus to Berkeley High. Rowers return from the regatta by parent car pools. Parents who cannot pick up their rower/coxswain late on Sunday must make arrangements for their child’s return in an approved-in-advance official carpool. More information about this event is made available at the All-Parent Meeting in January.