Regattas season runs from March through May and events take place on Saturdays. The majority of the regattas are held at Sandy Run and qualifying boats may attend State and National regattas. Regattas are like swim meets or track meets, with many different events. A typical regatta includes about a dozen schools, each racing several boats. First year rowers usually compete as ‘Novices’ against other first year rowers.
Before You Go
Before you go to the regatta, print out a schedule of the day's races, which is usually posted on the Race Day Schedule on the night before the regatta. Bookmark Regatta Central and Row2k, many of the heat sheets and results for the events are posted on these websites.
Early morning weather at Sandy Run can be windy and cold. Then the weather may change to warm sunshine or a cold drizzle. Prepare yourself for comfort by dressing in layers. Wear Robinson Crew spirit wear to show your support for the team. Wear comfortable shoes to help you navigate the long rocky trails at the park. Bring a chair or pad to sit on, and bring binoculars to see the races.
Rowers are required to arrive early to prepare for the race. Races typically start in the morning and run through the afternoon. Often, upper boats race in the morning and lower boats race later. Check the schedule to find out the planned start time for each race. Remember that race times may change based on the weather or other factors. The coaches will tell the rowers what time they need to arrive. Plan to arrive early, since it may take 30-60 minutes to reach the grandstands from the time you arrive at the park.
Parking At Sandy Run
If you drive to Sandy Run, be prepared to pay a parking fee before you enter the park on Van Thompson Road. VASRA's parking fee is $15 to $20 per car this year, carpooling is recommended. Parking costs can add up during the spring regattas.
RCBC has an arrangement with several other schools to provide free shuttle buses to the park. The shuttle departs Halley Elementary School with two buses making the loop at 15 minute intervals. Between 11:30am and 1:30pm, the drivers will be taking lunch (one at a time). During that time, the buses will run on a 30 minute interval instead of a 15 minute interval. Also, during the early morning high-volume traffic time as rowers are being dropped off at the Sandy Run parking lots, it can take the shuttle drivers more time to make the round trip back to Halley Elementary School, so please plan accordingly. The last bus will leave Sandy Run an hour after the last race is finished.
With proper planning, it is possible for either your rower to ride the shuttle or for you to drop your rower off at the designated area (usually at the point of payment-just mention you are dropping-off) and then drive to the shuttle bus to avoid the parking fees:)
If you signed up to serve as a volunteer on regatta day, be sure to sign in at the boat ramp before going to the grandstand. This signup station is staffed by VASRA.
Before you travel to the grandstand, you may want to stop near the boathouse to enjoy the spectacle as hundreds of rowers carry their boats to the water. If you hear someone shout "heads up", that means a boat is coming through, so move out of the way. The boats are heavy, hard to maneuver, and expensive to repair.
There is a trail to the grandstand that can be found near the boathouse near the docks. Another trail to the Grandstand begins just inside the main gate (in Lot C). The one-mile trip to the grandstand covers steep hills and unpaved trails, and takes 15-20 minutes to walk.
On race days, you can avoid the walk by paying a nominal fee for the shuttle to the Grandstand that runs from the parking lot inside the main gate.
Near the Grandstand you will find programs and race schedules, T-shirt vendors, and a concession stand selling hot and cold drinks and food. When you reach the grandstand, look for other Robinson Crew spectators wearing Robinson blue and gold.
The Grandstand offers an excellent view of the finish, but binoculars will help you see more of the race. You may wait two hours to see a five-minute race, two minutes of which you can see without binoculars. But it's an exciting 2 minutes, and well worth the wait. You can cheer for all the Robinson Crew boats and learn a little something of what Crew is really all about.
Rules and Regulations for Sandy Run
Sandy Run is managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and defines the Rules and Regulations for the use of the park facilities. This link is the official park Rules and Regulations that should be read and understood by rowers and their families.