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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Head of the Fish cut short

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


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