The big event in the town of Marlow is the “Town” Regatta held this weekend during a glorious sunny day and adaptive competition just a bright and intense. The event is one of the largest crowds adaptives will row in front of over the racing season (and there’s the extra bonus of free VIP enclosure badges for every competitor).
Despite the glorious weather and the meticulous organization, every event is a learning opportunity and a number of insights did emerge from the day:
- Umpire Briefing – The Marlow Adaptive Coach/Coordinator (me) joined the pre-race umpire briefing and it seemed to help a lot in clarifying the specific questions and issues for the specific athletes competing that day. Learning – Having the host adaptive coach participate in the umpire briefing is an important best practice.
- Umpire Briefing Sheet – I also produced a one page briefing sheet on specific considerations in specific races (eg. highlighting the AR3-LI races to emphasize referring to the athletes by their names and not clubs, pointing out the PR1 racing and the specific safety considerations in the event of a capsize, noting a competitor who had had a seizure in the past year to prepare to respond accordingly if anything happened in the boat that looked like it could be a seizure). Learning: Consider providing a special “cheat sheet” for adaptive racing for any adaptive competition.
- Extra ‘Time Handicap’ Briefing for LI – One of the competitors got confused at the start when their opposition set off before them with a time handicap. The individual did have the concept explained to them prior to the race, but I guess it hadn’t quite taken at race time. And I raise it here because this is now the third time I have seen LI confusion over time handicapping at the start making me think it is more of a general issue than anticipated. Since expert officials sometimes get a bit confused by the system so it is not surprising that someone with a learning impairment would have issues. Learning: Invest extra time and effort into briefing LI athletes on the time handicapping process and what they should expect.
- Tail Winds Hurt “Chasers” – The time handicap system means that if the head starts for the slower boat(s) are calculated properly, then by the end of the course, the faster boat will have caught them up for an excitingly close finish. However, the day featured a regular, firm, downstream breeze which pushed the boats down the course at the start. Sometimes the start ended up being 50-100 yards down the course. For an even start, such an impromptu change in course length is not that much of an issue. But for a time handicapped event with a chaser, the now shorter course distance disadvantages the chaser because they have less distance to make up the gap. And indeed, several of the races had larger than expected winning margins against the chasers just as the chasers seemed to be catching up the opponent towards the finish line. Once again, the time handicap system is intended to be an improvement over straight “classification” racing, but it is, and always will be, imperfect. Learning: Whenever a race has considerable downstream breeze, the umpires should make an effort to set up the start a good margin above the standard start line.
- Boating Communication – Especially the Marlow (Spring and Town) regattas often have some confusion about registration and boating for adaptive crews. The club arranges for adaptive registration and boating from the accessible boat house (with accessible parking and other aspects to assist adaptive crews). But the rest of the competitors on the day, park, register and boat across the river. As a result, we have had a number of instances where athletes go to the field across the river because those are the general instructions for the general participants: Learning: Whenever an event has different registration/boating, the organisers should make a extra effort to send a special communication to adaptive crews highlighting the special registration/boating arrangements.
Congratulations to the medal winners:
- Ada PR3 1x – Chris Boys, Guildford
- Ada PR3–LI – Elijiah Watson, City of Oxford
- Ada PR1 1x – Ethan Mills, Radley
- W Supp Ada 2x – Kiki Quibell and Helen Cooper, Marlow
- Supp Ada 2x A – Sebastian Johnson and Paul Thomas, Marlow
- Supp Ada 2x B – Selena Collingwood and Paul Roworth, City of Oxford