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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: October 2006

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Head of the Fish cut short

SARATOGA SPRINGS – What is the Head of the Fish Regatta on Fish Creek without rain? Not the Head of the Fish.
The annual late October rowing regatta held on Fish Creek for the past 21 years was known as the largest single-day regatta in the nation. It’s popularity grew to such heights that the event was planned for two days beginning this year.
Mother Nature must not have agreed, as rain poured down on the regatta throughout the day on Saturday and high winds forced the cancellation of Sunday’s events. The premature ending of the regatta negated the masters division races, cut short the weekend for food and souviner vendors as well as scrapped the plans of a shoreline engagement.
“Sunday was just too dangerous,” Saratoga Rowing Association race director Chris Chase said. “This (winds gusting Saturday afternoon) is just a little taste of it. If the water allowed us to start, rowing into 60 mile per hour gusts would take its toll.”
High water and gusting winds forced the cancellation Friday night of the Northeast’s other major regatta, the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta in Philadelphia.
“With what it takes to run a regatta like this, the infrastructure, the time commitment by the Saratoga County Sheriffs, the volunteers, the judges, it’s just not worth it,” Chase said. “I would rather be worried about begin blamed for being safe than being risky.”

Despite the rain, and the late wind gusts that gave the regatta goers a taste of things to come, all 62 races were completed by late afternoon.
If there was any disappointment on the day it was the slow-moving results process. A breakdown between the starting crew, the finish line and then the timing desk caused the results to run more than three hours behind. Many teams and winners left Fish Creek without their trophies due to the delay. Chase said the process will be resolved before next year’s event.
The race was shortened to 2-miles Friday night, moving the finish line back, prior to the Route 9P bridge allowing crews to finish their sprints without entering the mouth of Saratoga Lake and it’s chop. Even with the shortened course, the day had its moments with several singles overturning near the end of their race. Each were fished out by motorized safety crews stationed along Fish Creek.
“I didn’t even see the boat next to me,” Friends of Shenendehowa Crew, Inc. singles rower said. “My oar hit one of the moored boats in the marina, a bunch of people did the same thing.”
The Shenendehowa senior survived, changed and went out to compete in the men’s double with teammate Ian Fisher.
“The water wasn’t a factor,” Lyons said. “I was just mad at myself. What a great way to end my year.”
The Saratoga Rowing Association earned five gold medals and the fish head trophy, designed by local architect, Tom Frost, also one of the founders of the Head of the Fish Regatta.
“I think it was the perfect way to end our season,” Saratoga Rowing Association junior Kathleen Ronayne said about her trip in the junior eight. “Everyone wants a fish head. We wanted to win, we had such a good row, it made our day.”

The weather made the Head of the Fish a memorable day for the rowers.
“We were freezing and it was pouring rain, but the water was flat,” SRA junior Juliana Wakeman said. “There was a little of a tail wind, but that was good. We row in this all the time.”
Wakeman was the only junior in a “senior” boat on Saturday, looking to make the most of the day.
“We all worked hard today,” Wakeman said. “We wanted to row hard, for all the seniors, it was their last Head of the Fish and we wanted to go out and show it.”
The mixed open double of 2004 Olympian J. Sloan DuRoss and Adreanne Morin, a member of the Canadian Women’s National team, rowing for Saratoga Rowing Association, earned a gold medal with a time of 12:08.28.

Morin also earned her first fish head trophy with a time of 13:32.92 in the women’s open single. DuRoss finished in second place in the men’s open single, just one second behind Greenville Christian College’s Slate, 12:25.43 to 12:26.77.
The Friends of Shenendehowa Crew, Inc. earned three fish heads along with gold medals Saturday afternoon, placing first in the women’s junior lightweight four in 13:04.45, the women’s junior lightweight double in 13:13.33 and the women’s junior lightweight eight in 12:31.69.
Burnt Hills Rowing Association earned a bronze medal Saturday with a 14:04.07 in the women’s novice four.

Full race results, now official, can be viewed at www.racetrak.com

Food and fun inside at Head of the Fish

SARATOGA SPRINGS – When the Saratoga Rowing Association puts on a regatta they want to offer the best for everyone. They offer the best racing venue, ample parking, a knowledgeable staff and along with it a tent full of food, fun and memories to take home with them.
With the weather suitable for rowing, it didn’t lend a lot to the spectators so the expo tent at this year’s 21st annual Head of the Fish Regatta provide a safe haven for everyone. The four-pole big top style tent housed registration, food, event T-shirts as well as a variety of information and souvenirs for the regatta goers.
If you missed the large white walled tent, the aroma arising from its far end, courtesy of Saratoga Polo Catering and Events was sure to draw a crowd. The local company provided a full array of menu items for rowers, coaches, officials and fans alike.
According to Denver Grober who spent Saturday cooking outside for the masses, the company offered cheese and pepperoni woodfire pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches as well as chili.

“We also sold a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich this morning that was a big hit,” Grober said. “We also brought our own Saratoga blend of coffee, too.”
The Saratoga company was brought into the regatta fold by members on the Saratoga Rowing Association board, a good example of “word of mouth advertising.”
Another popular stop on Saturday was the regatta T-shirt table, that offered a full assortment of the 2006 commemorative T-shirt, vintage regatta T-shirts, posters and hats.

“We set-up at 6:30 a.m. and started selling at 8 a.m.,” volunteer Nancy Coleman said in the afternoon. “I started with eight people here and its been flat out.”
The rainy weather outside made the dual heated entrance tent a popular stop and the T-shirt table’s position next to the trophy table that displayed the unique fish head trophies helped soggy foot traffic.
“Everyone wants the Head of the Fish T-shirt,” Coleman said. “New this year we added a knit brim hat and our vintage T-shirts, two for $5 are selling well. I think we’ll sell more than 2,000 T-shirts over the weekend.”
A traditional stopping point at all regattas was the Maax table manned by company representative, Allison Corona. The Maax Bluefish is a regular at every major regatta, offering warm hats, sweatpants along with logo T-shirts and colorful belts.
“Everyone loves the pants and the beanies (hats),” Corona said. “The rain helps us, we’ve sold a lot of sweatshirts and hats today. Last weekend, at the Head of the Charles, we sold tons of T-shirts because it was 65 degrees and sunny.”

The Bluefish logo is a staple at regattas, but Corona is quick to inform the customers about the company’s humble beginnings in Duxbury, Mass, when the Curley siblings began selling visors with the Bluefish logo on it from their garage. The company has grown to provide the popular logo items throughout the East Coast and has expanded into the custom sports attire business.
For the rowing fan who has everything, regatta goers found their answers courtesy of Lenny and Anita Wos who own and operate The Art of Rowing. The couple sells regatta posters, post cards, Christmas cards, mugs, art and drawings. Many of the items are the results of Lenny Wos’s own work as a painter and a cartoonist.
“The rain doesn’t help us, it helps the sweatshirt vendors,” Anita Wos joked. “We have to put everything in plastic bags to keep it safe.”
The Wos pair travel to regattas from New England through Tennessee, but even Saturday’s poor weather didn’t deter their spirits at the Head of the Fish. This was their fourth Head of the Fish and have also displayed at the New York State Scholastic regatta on Fish Creek as well as the Scholastic Nationals last May.
“They really know how to take of their vendors,” Anita Wos said. “We enjoy coming here. They do all the small things to make it worthwhile for us to be here.”

Saratoga Polo Catering and Events can be reached at (518) 584-8108
Visit the Maax website at: www.bluefishriver.com and visit the Lenny and Anita Wos at www.artofrowing.com