This Spring has been a long Winter. It has been so cold and wet that well into May, I was still packing my survival suit along with my other gear for each Spring!! regatta. Well! Memorial Day weekend finally brought some sun and just enough rain to make us pull on the rain-fighting gear for a couple of races.
The NEIRA's are held on one of my favorite race courses -- beautiful Lake Quinsigamond. Few courses are as nice as Lake Q. The course is straight, the lake wide enough for 6 full racing lanes, and the local rowing community hosts so many fine regattas that the logistics work like a well-oiled machine. This is the home of safe, well-run regattas. No matter how lousy the weather -- and we've had some miserable days -- I always look forward to another day on Lake Q.
The Quinsigamond Rowing Association, host to many other championship regattas, only provides support services to the NEIRA. It is not involved in the actual operation of the NEIRA regatta. That is left to the schools in the NEIRA, an august group that includes Exeter, Andover, Miss Porters and others. As an official, the differences are evident. The most notable is how the officials are treated. We're usually part of the team (coaches, local organizing committee, fire and safety personnel, boat drivers, timers, and many others) who make the regattas happen. We all know and respect each other and are thankful for each's contribution.
USRA officials are volunteers. We buy lots of gas at over $2.00 per gallon to get to regattas at dawn, purchase odd equipment (power megaphones and waterproof stopwatches) that would have no other use in our lives, wear out a set of raingear almost every season. Freeze in the cold and burn in the sun, all so that others can enjoy victory (or defeat) in a sport we love.
In this equation, little things mean a lot. With NEIRA, we come in, do our task as officials, eat lunch in a hurry as the tables are being whisked out from under us -- to display trophies, conclude the day and leave. Something is missing here?