FULFILLING VASRA SERVICE COMMITMENTS:
The Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association (VASRA) ensures our athletes can compete in first-rate regattas against area schools, and assistance from all member high schools is required to keep races flowing smoothly. All OCCBC families are required to fulfill at least one VASRA service shift over the year to help the team meet our obligation to local racing. VASRA volunteer shifts are a great way to meet parents from other teams, and offer a unique view into the world of student racers. Sign up for your VASRA service shift HERE.
You may not bring children with you on your shift — even at the concession stand. VASRA insurance policies do not cover minors.
GENERAL VASRA WORKDAYS
VASRA holds work days in the fall to maintain the Sandy Run facilities and prepare the headquarters and outer sheds for winter, and in the spring to get everything up and ready for racing. Additional work days are scheduled after the race season is complete to put away course equipment and to ready the facility for summer. Workday shifts and anticipated duties are announced in the Catch and on our Twitter feed when available, and are a great opportunity to get your VASRA requirement checked off so your race days are free for cheering on our team.
Course Set-up Helpers - EARLY SPRING
SET UP LAND: Land volunteers prepare the Sandy Run facility for spring regattas; activities include such things as cleaning and re-arranging equipment in the storage shed, checking cables and buoys, and other house-keeping jobs assigned by the VASRA coordinator. You may be required to do some heavy lifting in this role, and please wear old clothes and gloves.
SET UP WATER: Water volunteers prepare the race course for spring regattas, by installing anchors, buoy lines, and spreader cables, and positioning the tower and platform near the starting line. You will be outside and on the water most of the time, so please wear layered and waterproof clothing. A hat and gloves are highly recommended, and you may want to consider a change of clothing in case you get very wet.
Concessions volunteers can be assigned to either the boathouse or the grandstands (finish line), in either food service or sales of VASRA/regatta t-shirts and programs. You can select a morning or afternoon shift when you sign up, depending on Oakton's assignments from VASRA for the day.
The first shift sets up concession stand supplies and prepares food, and t-shirt/program displays as assigned by the Concession Manager. The afternoon shifts are responsible for cleaning up the area and putting away supplies, tables, grills, coffeepots and any other equipment used during the day. Those assigned to selling regatta t-shirts and programs will manage the inventory and cash from the day.
Dock Master assistant - Launch, recovery, & coach docks
The Dock Master Assistant helps the Dock Master make sure that all crews are checked in and launched at the correct times, and landed safely.
Assistants direct crews porting boats to the launch dock and work with coxswains to ensure everyone's safety, and help direct boats coming off the water to open spots on the recovery dock. Assistants help wash the docks prior to start of the regatta, keep docks clear of unnecessary gear during the day, and take messages to HQ for the Dock Master.
Assistants may be assigned to the launch dock, recovery dock, or the coaches' dock. Wear comfortable shoes and layered clothing, as the temperature may fluctuate quite a bit during your shift.
Each week Oakton is assigned certain launch (motor boat) driver roles, and unlike other service options which require no experience, you must complete launch training and be comfortable driving one of Oakton's launches before signing up for a shift.
Dam Driver: Patrols the area near the dam to prevent rowers and shells from venturing too close before races. This is a good role for a novice launch driver to get river experience on a regatta day, after completing Oakton's launch training.
Shuttle Driver: Transports officials, coaches, and regatta workers up and down the race course, from the VASRA dock to the coaches' dock at the finish line.
Referee Driver: This role requires at least one year of regatta launch experience and is not suitable for novice drivers. Ref drivers are assigned to a referee, and work with that ref for the duration of the shift. Ref drivers follow the teams at full speed down the course during races, and must have special training to recognize ref hand signals and to not to disrupt the flow of the course. It's worth the extra time for training — this is arguably the most exciting role on the water (other than rowing itself).
Safety Driver: During the regatta, safety drivers keep an eye on the course, and keep powerboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes, etc. out of the way of a race. After a rainy week, you may need to remove large pieces of debris or logs from the race course. Upstream safety drivers keep an eye on rowers warming up for any issues that may arise, or shells that may have capsized.
Stakeboat holders are transported by launch to the starting platform for morning or afternoon shifts, and before each race, holders lie on a plank over the water to hold shells in place until the starting horn. The role can be somewhat taxing on your arms and back, as you'll be catching boats as they line up, holding them on line while the coxswains straighten their rowers, and you'll be up and down from the plank for the duration of your shift.
You'll be given safety instructions by regatta officials on race day to ensure you don't end up with an injury while catching boats, as well as guidelines for the proper way to release the boats (and you'll also be asked not to joke around with the crews on the starting line, since they are nervous and running through race plans, and Dad Jokes are not as calming as you may think).
FINISH LINE TIMER HELPER
Finish line helpers work with race officials at the finish line shed (near the grandstands) to help determine shell timing and placement, ensuring the official race times are accurate. You also may be asked to run errands for race officials. Finish line helpers may be assigned to time one lane of a race, so you should be able to operate a stopwatch effectively in order to assess the split time for the shell in your assigned lane.
The flagholder stands outside the finish line shed with a large orange flag, and follows the instructions of the Finish Line Judge to indicate 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, etc., as boats cross the finish line.
The weigh-in assistant helps the regatta director or referees/judges weigh lightweight teams, and ensures wristbands are provided to lightweights once they are checked in and ready to go. Role may require very early arrival, depending on regatta schedule.
The Awards Assistant works with the HQ Coordinator to obtain race results, organize award ribbons by 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places for presentation to teams, and to record the distribution of awards. The assistant may also prepare results for the Results Poster. For races with a formal award ceremony, the assistant works with the Regatta Director in the presentations of medals, ribbons and trophies to the recipients following each race or at the end of the regatta.
MONEY COLLECTOR (Grandstand Shuttle)
VASRA operates a shuttle to transport spectators from the upper parking lot to the grandstands, and money collectors work with the shuttle operator to collect the fees for shuttle service. Collectors are assigned to the parking lot or the grandstand drop-off points, and you should be provided with a list of who may ride for free before the start of your shift. Please wear comfortable shoes for standing.
The cross-over marshal's job is to ensure that pedestrians walking from the boathouse and parking lots to the grandstands stay on the pedestrian path, and do not cross under the dividing rope to walk on the roadway reserved for shuttles. For this position, you should bring a folding chair, water bottle & snacks, and a book — cell reception is spotty in the woods.
This peaceful role is basically sitting in the woods for a few hours, but be prepared to answer the question "Am I close yet?" several hundred times. The answer is, "Not quite, but it's a lovely way to get your steps in for the day."
The Launch Master is responsible for all motor craft on race day, oversees set-up, and is accountable to the regatta director prior, during and after races. The Launch Master also ensures that schools assigned to provide launches for the day are fully ready to go, with life jackets and full tanks of gas. Duties during the regatta include organizing all judge/referee, marshal, safety, and shuttle launches, as well as other support boats as required by the Regatta Director. Launch Master also monitors shuttle traffic on the water, to ensure launches carry only the number of people specified on the data plaque for that boat.
Course take-down helpers
At the conclusion of the regatta day, you may be asked to help put away equipment, fix buoy lines, cables and anchors, or re-position the starting tower and the starting platform near regatta headquarters; this role is clean-up to get the river ready for the next week of practice. Some heavy lifting might be involved. You will most likely be working on both the land and the water, so bring appropriate clothing and gloves.
OLOC POSITION: PARKING COORDINATOR
Every VASRA member school is assigned an OLOC (Occoquan Local Organizing Committee) position, which are ongoing positions with longer time commitments. Oakton is assigned as Parking Coordinator during the regatta season, and we ask that several families share this responsibility to share the workload. This position is not difficult and does not require any experience, and because of the time commitment involved, participants will be reimbursed a portion of their membership dues.
VASRA provides a short training session before the season starts at Sandy Run in the spring, so our parking lots don't look like this.
There are two parts to this position:
1. Friday night before each regatta – set up signage at Sandy Run for the parking lots and along the roads.
2. Saturday regattas – be on site all day at the regattas to coordinate parking with the volunteers who are staffing the lots (you are not responsible for locating volunteers for parking - this is handled by VASRA). Coordinators work in the lower lots, upper lots, and the shuttle to/from the Grandstands. Coordinators also keep rowers and their families updated on the off-site parking situation via Twitter.