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Coming Up: Brentwood

The 41st annual Brentwood Regatta will be held from April 29 – May 1.  Brentwood is an event unto its own; this is an international affair.  I don’t mean international as in Bellingham has an “international” airport.  This isn’t just a gathering of local crews who happen to be separated by a border.  This regatta often attracts crews from far outside the region.  It is not uncommon for crews from California to travel up.  Last year a team from Bermuda competed, and this year the team from Pymble Ladies’ College in Australia will be competing.  2011 is the largest Brentwood ever with a record number of entries, and  Brentwood anticipates hosting 1500 – 2000 athletes over the weekend.

The race site is Brentwood College School, a private boarding school in Mill Bay, BC on Vancouver Island, just thirty minutes north of Victoria.  This event is a highlight for the school and surrounding community.  The entire school, not just their rowing team, pitches in to help make this event happen with numerous vendor tents and live music.

The racing schedule is full and perhaps a little confusing, the Brentwood Regatta website describes the various event classifications pretty well, but it can be a little overwhelming for a newcomer to understand exactly who is racing.  Basically, there are several different types of classifications: gender, age, speed, weight, experience, boat class, and scholastic.

  • Gender: Girls or Boys, there are no mixed gender events at Brentwood.
  • Age: Junior B athletes cannot have their 16th birthday prior to January 1, 2011.  All high-school athletes are eligible for Junior A events.
  • Speed: Unless specified, an event is considered the “varsity” level event of that boat class.  Therefor, the “Junior A Girls 8+” is considered to be the “Varsity 8+” event and is the fastest girls 8+ lineup on the team.  “JV” is the second fastest, and “3V” is the third fastest.  Brentwood has some additional rules which do not allow any athlete competing in a varsity level event to compete in any lower event of any other boat class.  For example, a member of the Varsity 8+ cannot compete in the JV 2x, even though that JV 2x may be the second fastest 2x on the team.  This is different from the NW Jr Regional Championship rules.
  • Weight: Lightweights are measured in kilos rather than pounds (silly Canadians!).  Boys events are 72.5 kilograms (159.8 pounds) while girls events are 63 kilograms (138.9 pounds).  Each athlete cannot exceed this weight in order to compete.  At Brentwood, athletes are weighed in once on Friday for the entire weekend.
  • Experience: Athletes in their first year of rowing are considered novice athletes and can race in novice class events.  The rowing year follows the academic year so athlete cannot have competed before September, 2010.
  • Boat class: The boat classes that compete at Brentwood are the 8+ (coxed eight), 4+ (coxed four), 4x+ (coxed quad), 2x (double), and 1x (single).  Any boat classification with an “x” behind the number is considered a sculling event where athletes use two oars.  Events without an “x” are sweep events where athletes use one oar.  Events with a “+” must have a coxswain, coxswains are not required in any event without a “+”.
  • Scholastic: There is only one scholastic event for each gender at Brentwood: the “School 8+”.  All the athletes in an entry must be from the same high-school.  Teams are required to submit letters from high-school officials confirming their scholastic status.

All these classifications can be combined to create the events competed at Brentwood.  For example, the “Junior B Novice 4x+” event is a coxed quad (sculling) event only open to novice athletes who have not achieved their 16th birthday by January 1.  Alternatively, the “Junior A Lightweight 4+” is open to any lightweight athlete.  Finally, any athlete is eligible to race “up” into another classification, but cannot race “down”.  For example, a novice athlete can race in the Junior A 8+, but a non-novice athlete cannot race in a novice event.  Similarly, a Junior B athlete can race in Junior A events, and a lightweight athlete can race in any openweight category.  The one exception to this is that an athlete in a JV event cannot race in a varsity level event of another boat class.  Confused yet?

The last thing to know about the Brentwood Regatta is that it NEVER goes according to plan.  You may notice by looking at the race schedule  that there is a gap in racing on Saturday morning, and that the regatta is finished at 11:00 am on Sunday.  This is largely by design to accommodate the wind that typically arrives in the afternoon and delays racing.  Events will get a little more condensed and pushed back into Saturday morning or Sunday.  Typically they are able to fit all the events in despite the delays, but some years they are forced to eliminate some finals if the weather is particularly bad.  We’ve all learned to be patient with this and understand that the regatta organizers do their best to keep racing safely on time.

The best place to keep tabs on these schedule changes is the race schedule link above.  Additionally, Brentwood’s Twitter feed is an excellent way to stay apprised of results and the latest news from the course.