Ready, Row! USA #47: Sarasota Coastal Regatta

 In Ready Row USA


Racing took place off of Sarasota’s South Lido Beach from November 20–24, 2019. Contests were run for the masters men’s and women’s C1X, C2X, along with mixed C2X. Junior men and women races C4x. Following the format of European coastal racing, SCRA provided rentals of FISA-class boats and oars for those without equipment looking to compete. While the focus of the Sarasota International Coastal Regatta is on FISA-class racing, the event included an open class for other approved boat classes. If they had them, crews were also encouraged to bring their own boats to the event, which required approval from the chief referee prior to competition.

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The sport combines the technical skills of rowing with the navigational and boat handling skills of a sail boat regatta, according to John Wik, Director of Coastal Rowing for USRowing and Chief Referee for the 2019 Sarasota International Coastal Regatta. Racing on open water, athletes are challenged with waves, wind, tide, and current, along with the challenge of their competitors. Safety requirements include PFD on board for all crew (worn by cox in quads), and a bow line with running end in reach of a crew member. 

The race was hosted by the Sarasota Coastal Rowing Association (SCRA), the Sarasota International Coastal Regatta is just one of the USRowing sanctioned FISA-class coastal racing events to be held in the United States in 2019. Seattle, San Francisco and Connecticut will also see coastal racing this year, though competition dates are still being finalized. Florida Youth teams where invited to compete in the coxed quads where 14 crews (split men and women) raced in a bracket to grand and petite finals of 3-4 boats. Coastal to Youth Olympics in 2022: Mens and Womens 1x, Mens, Womens, and Mixed 2x. The Sarasota event was held in the “Beach Sprints” format (see below).

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The event made for an awesome afternoon of racing for both competitors and spectators. Already a key location in the ‘rowing world’, the city of Sarasota, Fla. continues to expand as a landmark for all things rowing. First, with a focus on hosting national and world class ‘traditional’ rowing events, Nathan Benderson Park (NBP) has become the site of several USRowing National and Regional Championships, FSRA State Championships and three FISA international regattas. NBP continues to develop as a destination for training camps, learn-to-row programs and racing. Now, Sarasota is expanding its focus on the exciting sport of coastal rowing. A major part of the European rowing scene, coastal rowing is now gaining attention in the United States and Canada. Seattle, San Francisco and Connecticut will also see coastal racing this year, though competition dates are still being finalized.

Coastal Rowing Glossary:

  • Beach Sprint: Beach sprint: one or all members of the crew start behind a line up on the beach. Start sequence runs just as a standard stake boat racing start, with raised flag or light accompanying calls. 
  • Floating Start: Buoy lines are used for start and finish. Start boat drops large balls at 2 minutes before, then 1 minute before, and at start accompanying a horn. 
  • Courses: Racing on open water, athletes are challenged with waves, wind, tide, and current, along with the challenge of their competitors. Coastal courses are easy to modify as needed with day-of conditions; organizers simply need to place large buoys for rounding. 

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Aviz, Portugal – Masters Sculling Camp

From Mark Wilson, All-American Rowing Camp: This was not just your average rowing camp. Our trip in fall of 2019 was an adventure beyond our expectations! We provided an All-American experience – a camp for rowers, designed and run by rowers. Aviz and the training center were our home away from home, in an incredible location on 60km of water, swimming pool, home made food, and rowing inspiration from the various national teams nearby. We discovered Aviz was a place train where Europe’s best come to train. AARC’s trip on May 5-10, 2020 will be a true training camp, organized and coached by Jim Dietz and Mark Wilson. Rowing, Strength training, plenty of rowing, learning how to set up a personalized annual plan, interactive discussions about cross-training principals, nutrition for the aging athlete, and much more. Tours to local sites to learn about the history and current living in Central Portugal is all included. All you have to do is fly to Lisbon, everything else is included. Everyone from 2019 wants to return to Aviz, so reserve your spot early!

CREW: Producer: Charlotte Pierce; Asst. Producer: Shannon Borum; Correspondents: Mark Wilson, Ryan Worth, Tara Morgan, Brenda Balenger, Reba Knickerbocker, Alison Pollini


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