Originally created 11/10/05

Regatta benefits from extensive preparations

As last year's Head of the South Regatta in Augusta wound down to an exciting finish, it would have been difficult to find the administration at Augusta Rowing Club celebrating the successful event.

In fact, there was no time for a celebration; they were already getting prepared for this year's venture.

And with only a few minor changes on tap for Saturday's regatta, there is one unique aspect of the competition that club president George Fry Jr. has worked hard to maintain.

"As the rowers come back onto land, they like to know how they did in the race," Fry said. "Most events have a several hour delay, but we have the results right when they step off the docks."

This initiative has attracted many of the top collegiate crews in the region to the ninth annual Head of the South Regatta, which will run from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The competition will culminate with the two most hotly-contested races - the men's and women's championship 8 with coxswain (designated as 8+) - featuring defending champion Georgia Tech.

In addition, crews from Georgia, Clemson, Central Florida and several other schools will converge on the Savannah River for one of the Southeast's largest head races, which run directly against the current and test the endurance of the athletes.

According to Fry, the end of the race will be staged just before the Gordon Highway bridge, which will allow spectators to see the last portion of the race very well.

Along with the men's and women's competitions, which feature the collegiate crews, the regatta will have masters (over 21 years of age), youth (18 years of age and under), novice and senior (43-59 years old) division races.

"I think it's a real testament to one of the nice things about the sport. It's really a lifetime sport," Fry said.

"We have some in their 80s and many young rowers that are just starting high school. Many of the masters rowers didn't pick it up until their kids got involved. So it's a complete turnaround from what you usually see in other sports."

One interesting aspect of the sport is the lightweight division, which includes male rowers under 165 pounds and female rowers under 135 pounds.

This separate division allows for a more balanced competition, pitting athletes against competitors their own size.

In the lightweight division, the Augusta Rowing Club features Tim Larson, who won the World Championships Trials in West Winston, N.J., on July 18. He will be competing during the morning portion, which will begin with singles competition.

The regatta offers a chance for youngsters to get a feel for the sport of rowing.

"We are really trying to build back our junior program," Fry said.

"This is an opportunity, as well as with our Learn-To-Row programs. We'll be encouraging high school athletes to come see what it's like."

IRONMAN RESULTS: Arnold Barett, of North Augusta, turned in a time of 9 hours, 54 minutes, 4 seconds at last week's Ironman Florida event in Panama City, Fla.

He finished 97th overall out of more than 2,000 competitors and qualified for the Ironman Hawaii World Championships next year.

Two other local athletes also competed.

Paul Kannady had a time of 11:53:06 and came in 713th, and Paul Butler had a time of 15:36:27 and came in 1800th.

If you go

What: Head of the South Regatta

Where: Savannah River

When: 8:15 a.m. Saturday with races all day

Tickets: $3 for adults; $2 for seniors, students and military; free for children under 6


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