Gas prices are down, the weather is warming up and the combination will make for a big turnout in the annual U.S. Rowing Southeast Regional Championship Regatta this weekend at Langley Pond.
“It’s going to be a little bit bigger than it has in the past,” regatta director Jim Buckalew said. “I guess everybody’s adjusted to the economy, and they’re willing to travel again.”
Buckalew said registration numbers had dropped over the previous two years, but the expense of traveling from the North or from Florida has eased up and more rowers have signed up this year.
Competition, which is open only to registered U.S. Rowing members, will begin Saturday morning and range from junior (under 18) and novice (first-year) rowers to more experienced masters competitors. Races will run through Sunday afternoon.
Almost 20 rowing clubs from as far south as Miami and as far north as New York have already registered, and most will compete in multiple events.
“I don’t have the exact numbers,” Buckalew said. “But you can’t look at just how many have registered. Some will go eight times. All these rowers will come in and row ‘til they can’t go anymore.”
Buckalew said the warmer weather forecasted for this weekend shouldn’t affect the rowers, who will compete early in the day. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 90s.
“That’s the reason we always try to be done by 1 o’clock every day,” he said. “We’re trying to beat the heat and beat any thunderstorms that might pop up in the afternoon.”
This year’s regatta will also serve as a warm-up for the U.S. Rowing National Championships next week in West Windsor, N.J., and the U.S. Rowing Club National Championships in July in Camden, N.J.