The annual IRA Rowing Regatta was held on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Thursday-Saturday, June 2-4. I had the privelege of being one of the referees who worked this exciting collegiate regatta.
This schedule for the event is always at first blush predicatable, but then there is the weather. That is seldom predicatble -- skin searing sunburn (even with lots of sunscreen), rain or wind, all are part of the possible mix. This year brought 1.5 inches of rain during the Friday, heats and reps. If you have ever attended an all day outdoor event, you don't need me to tell you what happens -- the ground becomes saturated, muddy and slippery. Even with the rain on Friday, Thursday and Saturday were beautiful days.
The IRAs are very busy for referees. It all commences with the coaches and coxes meeting on Wednesday, evening. This is followed with a brief meeting for the officials -- we get our marching orders for the next day and any special instructions. We also get to greet our fellow officials -- lots of hugs and so glad to see you's! This year for me a wonderful late dinner capped off Wednesday. I really enjoy the company of my fellow crew officials. They are smart, fun and dedicated to the sport.
Thursday is the busiest and longest day. The officials report to the site at 6:00 a.m. -- and no matter how early I arrive, I've always found others there first -- who knows when they sleep. I was assigned a.m. duty on the finish line and p.m. duty on the water. Both were great assignments. I've seldom enjoyed working with a finish crew as much as at this year's IRAs. The entire staffing was Goldilocks perfect -- not too many, not too few, just right -- or so it appeared.
After coming off the water around 6:00 p.m., the officials and some members of the hardworking local organizers were the guests of Aldo Lamberti's restaurant. I'm Italian by heritage, and an admitted food snob, but this restaurant is in my personal pantheon of must dine places.
Can't linger over the food, a busy Friday awaits with lots of heats, semis, and reps to referee starting at 6:30 a.m. and lasting into the mid-afternoon. Again my own assignments were finish and water. Alas! The sky opened, and the rains came. I've seldom been wetter or colder. The competition was hot so, it was a grand day even though it was very wet. The late afternoon was spent drying gear and trying to warm up and rest. A brief get together and a light dinner were enough to fill the agenda. Dropped into bed and slept soundly.
Saturday was truncated for me by the need to get down the road to a family gathering in honor of a very special high school graduate -- my nephew. So I did not get a chance to see the finals in some of the events. They are a spectacle.
Another set of IRAs are behind us. We'll have to wait another year to see quite such thrilling crew racing.