Battle of the Bridges

  • Hosted By Sarasota Scullers
  • USRowing Registered

Sarasota Scullers Youth Rowing Program (SSYRP) is the oldest organized youth rowing club in Sarasota. Since 1991, the Sarasota Scullers have led the way in rowing and developing teens on the water, in the classroom, and around our community. In partnership with the City of Venice and the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, SSYRP is ecstatic to host the first annual 5K Battle of the Bridges in Venice, Florida.  Teams from all of the southeast will kick off their fall head race season during the third weekend of September at the Battle of the Bridges in Venice, Florida.  This amazing venue provides spectators of all kind the opportunities to witness championship rowing. Racers will launch at the Historic Train Depot and warm up while traveling south along the intercoastal waterway.  Near Shamrock Park, athletes will turn north and begin racing approximately 1000m south of the famous Circus Bridge. Spectators will have access on either side of the waterway via the Legacy Trail where they will become active participants in this amazing event. Rowing teams will face a challenging yet inviting course of crystal blue, calm water.  Traveling under three bridges, the race will end 1 meter past the KMI Bridge.  Meanwhile, teams and spectators alike will enjoy the charm of Venice at the Historic Venice Train Depot where vendors and community partners will welcome our guests.


This will be a USRowing sanctioned regatta.  All participants must be registered with USRowing and complete the participant waiver.  Being a USRowing sanctioned regatta deems our event safe, fair, and equitable.   USRowing  and SSYRP will provide dock marshals, start officials, finish officials, and safety launches at each bridge to facilitate traffic at these narrow passings. Furthermore, the City of Venice will provide on water support via their marine unit, on land support via uniform traffic assistance, and on site medical support from an EMT/Paramedic.  SSYRP will also provide support personnel for the start line, the finish line, launch coordination, traffic management, spectator management, hospitality, and first aid.


Rowers can only be entered under one club name. 

Crews are responsible for entering their boats in the correct event. If you are entered in the wrong event your entry cannot be moved. If you do not meet the requirements for the event, your entry will be forfeited.

Any crew with unpaid fees from the previous year’s Battle of the Bridges will be allowed to enter until their balance is paid.

No boats will be entered into the Battle of the Bridges after the bow draw has been posted.

Registered boats that “no show” on regatta weekend may have themselves or their crew barred from racing in the next year’s Battle of the Bridges.

The organizing committee reserves the right to adjust event caps based on demand.


Novice Events: Limited to scullers, rowers and coxswains who have been competing for one year or less as of the first Regatta Day. Experience in sculling events does not count as experience in sweep events and vice versa.

Mixed Crews: Shall not be comprised of more than 50% men. Coxswains may be of either gender.

Men’s or Women’s Events: Men’s events are for male scullers and rowers only. Women’s events are for female scullers and rowers only. Coxswains may be of either gender.


Masters and Open: Coxswains are not subject to any restrictions, and may cox a boat of any age category, skill level or gender.

Weight: There are no weight requirements for coxswains.


Bow Draw: Bow numbers are assigned sequentially according to the following order:

o   Seeded boats: Top 10% of winning adjusted time in each event of the prior year’s Battle of the Bridges. If there are no results from the prior year, the next available year’s results will be used.

o   Random draw from the remaining entries until one boat has been placed for each organization. Unseeded composite entries will be drawn in this group.

o   Random draw from the remaining entries until a second boat has been placed for each organization (repeated until all boats have been placed).

Note: Within a single organization, boats are placed by designation (A, B, etc.); entering several boats with the ‘A’ designation will not result in better bow number assignments.

Note: Swapping boat lineups to ‘trade’ bow numbers is not permitted.  Lineup swaps in Masters events is expressly prohibited.

Once posted, the bow number draw is final. 


Handicap is calculated based on the following formula:

HC= (age – 27)2 * K

K= .100 for 8+’s and 4x’s, .108 for 2x’s and 4’s, and .125 for 1x’s and 2-’s

For Masters 2x, 4x, 4+, and 8+ the age of the crew will be the average of the rowers (except for coxswain). Handicaps are rounded to the nearest second. When the average age is 27 or below the handicap will be zero.

The correct age must be provided for each crew member. If any age is missing, no handicap will be assigned to the boat. Any handicap corrections must be made online prior to the deadline for lineup changes. No handicap changes will be accepted on the day of the race.


Lightweight athletes must weigh-in at least one hour preceding their first race.

Athletes may weigh-in at any of the following times: Saturday 7:00am to 10:30am.

Athletes in the same boat do not need to weigh-in together

There will be no boat weight averaging for lightweights of either gender.

Lightweight weights:

Male Youth Rowers will have a maximum weight of 150 lbs.

Male Rowers in all other age groups will have a maximum weight of 160 lbs.

Female Rowers in all age groups will have a maximum weight of 130 lbs.


All boats must conform to the USRowing regulations regarding construction and design detailed in Article III, Part A of the 2018 Rules of Rowing.

All boats will be inspected by referees to insure they conform to the USRowing regulations. If any boat does not conform, that boat will not be allowed to launch. This inspection will occur immediately prior to launch Saturday. Once boats have been checked, they will be tagged so that they do not have to be checked again for subsequent races.

Bow numbers: All boats racing must carry a bow number, provided by the BOB, denoting their assigned starting position. Bow numbers must be returned to the dock volunteers as boats come off the water.

Shirt numbers: All boats racing must have their bow number pinned to back of the bowman. The BOB will provide safety pins and number placards.


Warm-Up: A warm-up area is available prior to each race as rowers head south on the course. Regatta marshals will be on the course during the practice. No practice will be allowed on race days. Penalties of 1 minute or disqualification from the regatta may be assessed for violation of this rule. Crews may launch NO MORE than 45minutes prior to their race in order to reduce the number of athletes on the course at any given time.

Launch Rules: Boats must queue for launch in bow number order. All oars must be placed on the grass area near the dock from which boats are launching before boats are permitted down the ramps accessing the launch area.

For safety purposes and efficiency of starting boats, the BOB asks coaches to not send first time or inexperienced coxswains out on the water. If, in the judgment of the Dockmaster or Start Marshal, a coxswain is considered too inexperienced, the boat will be not be allowed to race.

Launch schedule: Launch schedules will be announced during the Coaches’ & Coxswains’ Meeting Saturday morning of the regatta. There will be only one call to launch prior to each event. The launch officials at Control Commission will encourage all boats to launch on time, but it is expected that crews be aware of their launch times and not depend solely on calls to launch from regatta officials.

Registered boats failing to launch during the appropriate launch window for their race will not be allowed to race.

Traffic pattern: The start line is located approximately three and one quarter miles south from the boat launching area. Buoys will separate the racecourse from the southbound traffic. Boats are required to keep to the port westside of the ICW while proceeding to the milling area.

The maximum number of athletes on the water could be 200, including warming-up athletes. 


On time starting will be strictly enforced. All crews must be at the marshaling area 10 minutes before the scheduled starting time of their race. Late starts will not be permitted. The BOB Organizing Committee will schedule launch times to allow sufficient time to row to the start with consideration for the Intercoastal Waterway current on the race day. It is expected that crews row at a brisk pace to the start line to ensure that racing can proceed on schedule.

Crews are responsible for maintaining proper position at the start; bow number is not a guarantee of start order

Marshals will be positioned in launches in the starting area for the purpose of organizing participating crews above the start into the proper starting order and time interval. Boats must be in the starting area in sequential start order at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time – late starts will not be permitted.

Crews shall be responsible for maintaining their proper starting position, for maintaining the proper interval between themselves and other crews and for aligning themselves in the starting chute.

Crews will be called to the start chute on approximately ten second intervals.

All crews not currently involved in the staging of the start shall yield to crews being summoned by the Start Marshal. Interference with the staging of the start shall result in a penalty.

Time permitting, the Start Marshal shall provide for a sufficient amount of time between events so that crews in different events do not overlap at the finish line. If delays occur the marshal will work to get all boats on the course with the least event overlap possible.


One crew is deemed to be overtaking another crew when it has moved to within one length of open water of the crew ahead. On the portions of the course that are straight, a crew being overtaken shall move to the starboard and allow the overtaking crew to pass. Where the course turns, a crew being overtaken shall move to the outside of the turn and allow the overtaking crew to pass along the shorter path. Strokes in coxed boats shall advise their coxswains when an approaching boat closes to within one boat length of open water.


To be able to launch, race and recover in one day, we need to be very efficient both on and off the water. The following penalties can be assessed:

30 second penalty will be assessed to crews that exceed the allowed dock times: 3 minutes for 8+s, 2 minutes for all other boats.

10 second penalty for passing a buoy on the wrong side

10 second penalty for failing to follow Officials’ instructions

20 second penalty for interfering with start staging

30 second penalty for failing to yield to crew with right-of-way

60 second penalty for crossing the starting line without required bow number

Crews urinating in the Intercoastal Waterway are subject to disqualification.


Crews will be disqualified if they cross the finish line missing a crew member. After crossing the finish line, crews shall continue to row and slowly proceed to the turnaround area as marked by red buoys, avoiding interference with other crews.

Protests: Shall be made in accordance with USRowing rule, 2-605. Intent to file a protest must be indicated to an official on the water immediately following the finish of a race. It must be done before the crew leaves the finish area and before arriving at the takeout docks. After a crew returns to the takeout docks, all rights to protest are waived. The regatta will consider the protest from a coach or coaching representative per USRowing rules. A fee of $25 is charged for each protest. The protest must be filed with the Control Commission, located in the boat launch area, and the fee must be paid within 45 minutes of the last boat finish time for the race in question.

Appeals: The Regatta Jury will consider appeals from crews who have been assessed a penalty. No crew shall receive a time advantage from a decision by the Jury.

Hot seating: The Battle of the Bridges does not have “hot seating” in the traditional sense and changing a crew in a boat on the water is prohibited. When in the finish area, crews will show referees on the water a designated card. Crews with the “hot seat” card will receive an expedited approach to the recovery dock, provided there is a safe path to do so as determined by the referees. The crew must then take the boat out of the water and move to the designated area for hot seating near the river pier. The new crew taking control of the boat will pick up the boat and join the queue for boats going onto the racecourse from the launch dock.

Important: Boats wanting to hot seat must have the coxswain pick up an orange card at Control Commission. Hot seat cards will be available Saturday beginning at 7 am. The coxswain should display the card over his/her head for the referees on the water and the dockmaster to see as they approach the return dock.

Results: All race results become “Official” 45 minutes following the last boat to finish in an event if no protests are pending.


Weather conditions have a significant impact on rowing and often result in potentially hazardous rowing conditions. It is important to be aware of the potential safety hazards resulting from the impact of rain, wind, currents, fog, extreme temperatures and marine life. Crews will not be called to launch if such conditions exist or are seriously threatening.

The Chief Referee, working with the Regatta Director and Safety Officer will discuss the conditions and potential risks to begin racing and/or continuing to row on the course.

All decisions pertaining to rowing on the course will come from the Chief Referee, and will be communicated and implemented through the Control Commission and the Dock Master. Decisions regarding emergency management and safety on land are the responsibility of the Regatta Safety Officer.

The safety and the well-being of crews are paramount to the referees and the Battle of the Bridges team.

Conditions that may result in delay or cancelation include:

Fog on the course

Heavy rainfall on the course

Thunder and lightning in the area

A fast running current

Strong winds and heavy chop on the course

Extremely cold weather

Considerable amounts of marine life on the course

Commercial boat traffic or other navigational hazards

We want your BOB experience to be safe and fun! Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Safety is priority number one.  To ensure we can provide the safest event we will be working with:

Regatta Central Management- Assists with registration to ensure only registered participants participate in the event

City of Venice- Collaboration on Marine Patrol, Fire Medic at Launch site, law enforcement for traffic management, marketing, crowd management, trash pick-up, and port-a-potties.  A City of Venice representative will sit on the event safety team to assist with decisions regarding race conditions including wild life and weather.

Sarasota County Parks and Recreation- Permit use of land facilities and collaborate with trash pick-up, traffic management, and restroom usage.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department- Collaborate on Marine Patrol, law enforcement at Launch site, law enforcement for traffic management, and crowd management.  A Sarasota County Sherriff’s Department representative will sit on the event safety team to assist with decisions regarding race conditions including wild life and weather.

Mote Marine- animal and environmental protection and safety; Collaborate to ensure the safety of wild life and reduce any environmental impacts due to the event.  They will provide staff to monitor the event via land and/or boat. A Mote Marine representative will sit on the event safety team to assist with decisions regarding race conditions including wild life and weather.

Florida Highway Patrol- Collaboration for traffic enforcement

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-animal and environmental protection and safety; Collaborate to ensure the safety of wild life and reduce any environmental impacts due to the event.  They will provide atleast one boat office to monitor the event and assist with enforcement.

Sports Engine consulting- This company manages our website. They will be working with us to sustain the increase usage during the event to ensure participants and others (such as parents) have timely access to pertinent information prior to and during the race.

The Weather Reporter, LLC: This company will be contracted to provide weather consultation during the week prior to and during the event incuding but not limited to cloud coveage, rain and lightning probability, wind speed and direction, surface pressure, surface visibility, wave hiaght and peak wave direction, and swell height.

 We will also be working with several other organizations who have experience hosting Head Race Regatta.  Some of these organizations:

Runcom Rowing Club- This club has hosted events like this for years. They have offer to provide expertise throughout the planning and implementation process of this event.

Head of the Hooch- This is the 2nd largest regatta in the world.  The organizers have offer to provide expertise throughout the planning and implementation process of this event.

US Rowing- This lead organization will provide the race marshals, the safety waivers signed by all participants, insurance, and best practices in regatta safety.

Regatta Central – Website that allows participants to get updates regarding race conditions, changes in schedule, and imperative information leading up to and during the event. This site will also post results as they become available.


The Battle of the Bridges Organizing Committee (BOBOC), working in conjunction with the Chief Referee, is charged with approving the use of any and all drones at the regatta venue both on shore and in the field of play, including the airspace above the course (in accordance with local and FAA drone regulations), and approving the use of any/all media launches on the field of play.

Anyone wishing to operate a drone Thursday through Sunday at the regatta, including media, spectators competing organizations (including athletes, coaches, support personnel, parents, or fans), must have prior approval from the BOBOC.  To obtain approval, please contact BOB. Please include why you are requesting to fly the drone, what the video/photos will be used for, the model of drone you plan to fly, and what experience you have flying drones.

Any drones operating in the field of play must be controlled from a media launch with an experienced drone operator and launch driver. The drone itself must remain at least 10 meters behind the crew and at least five meters above the highest point of the referee launch. Drones are not permitted to fly over the venue, launch and recovery docks, or start chute. Additionally, drones must stay out of the 5-mile no-fly zone surrounding the Venice Airport, which covers the majority of the course.