Walter Mess Regatta

  • Hosted By: Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association
  • 2021 Registered Regatta

VASRA COVID-19 Pandemic Guidelines for Regattas at Sandy Run Regional Park

3 May, 2021


The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for safe and effective rowing regattas at Sandy Run Regional Park in response to COVID19.  The information in this document is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or to ensure against the potential transmission of COVI-19.  This guidance is subject to change based on federal, state, local and park guidance.  Additional health and safety recommendations for rowing and high school athletics is available from US Rowing and the Virginia High School League (VHSL).

All VASRA regattas for 2021 will be held at Sandy Run Regional Park, 10450 Van Thompson Rd, Fairfax Station, VA 22039, on the Occoquan Reservoir. Regatta Schedule attached.

All regatta attendees are required to follow these guidelines and all additional guidance when visiting, training, or competing. If you have any questions about this plan please  contact VASRA. If you have park-specific questions, please contact Sandy Run Park  Manager, Kate Irwin at 703-690-4392 or [email protected]

General COVID Guidelines

  1. All coaches and athletes must comply with their school district’s COVID-19 Policy. Resident scholastic teams must follow the FCPS guidelines for crew.
  2. Do not enter Sandy Run Regional Park if you have any signs or symptoms or COVID-19.
  3. Do not enter Sandy Run Regional Park if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days.
  4. Do not enter Sandy Run Regional Park if you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the prior 14 days.
  5. Daily screenings of coaches, officials, staff, and rowers for COVID-19 symptoms per FCPS athletic guidelines is required.
    1. Officials, staff, and volunteers shall be screened in accordance with VHSL Screening Protocol and record via Google Docs.
  6. Maintain at least six feet of physical distance from other individuals.
  7. Follow all signage and follow staff instructions to help us provide a safe environment.
  8. While at Sandy Run Regional Park, all individuals must cover their mouth and nose with a mask as described and recommended by the CDC.  This includes on the docks and inside boathouses.
  9. Bring adequate water and hydration liquids. Water will not be available in the park. If you do not bring adequate hydration materials, you will not be allowed to row. Do not bring disposable containers.
  10. When moving shells six feet of physical distance is not required. However, individuals who are unable to maintain 6 feet of physical distance while moving a shell must cover their mouth and nose with a mask as described and recommended by the CDC.
  11. Only vaccinated coaches will enter the gas storage area while wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
  12. Bring only what you need.
  13. Do not congregate in groups socially.
  14. Each team shall designate a COVID monitor to ensure compliance with rules, regulations, and guidance.

Regatta Specific Policies

  1. Regattas will be limited to no more than 1,500 participants, coaches, officials, and staff on site.
  2. Coaches, Coxswain and Referee Meetings will be conducted virtually before the regatta.
  3. Regattas will run on 8-minute centers to allow additional time on the docks for launch and recovery spacing. This also allows more time to get people in and out of the park.
  4. Visiting teams are limited to a maximum of 12 trailers, which allows for social distancing while rigging. Trailer and Rigging Map Attached.
  5. Once heats and finals begin on week 5, the events will be grouped to allow a break for event participants to conduct heats and finals then to clear the park before further event participants enter. Participants will be directed to their team areas to social distance between events.
  6. Regattas will be formatted to ensure that events maintain the least number of athletes in the park at any one time as possible. This will be done initially by grouping smaller boat events with large boat events to keep the total numbers onsite down.
  7. Masks must be worn until the athletes have launched. Fairfax County does not require the wearing of masks while actively engaged in physical exertion.

Athletes must follow the most stringent guidelines for wearing masks that applies to their jurisdiction.

  1. Coxswains in eights or other stern coxed boats must wear a well-fitting mask and wrap-around eye protection while on the water.
  2. Separate Launch and Recovery Docks.
    1. Launch dock to the left in Sandy Run. Launching crews keep left of the pathway.
    2. Recovery dock is at the bottom of the hill. After recovering a shell keep to the right when coming up the hill.
    3. Crews are to maintain distancing and not stop adjacent to crews going in the opposite direction.
  3. Regatta participants should focus on “get in, row, get out” approach to minimize unnecessary contact.
  4. No spectators at regattas. Teams that violate this policy are subject to penalties, to include exclusion from this and other regattas.
  5. No team food tents or chuck wagons. Tents may be provided for shelter, but strict social distancing must be maintained.
  6. No concession sales.
  7. No trash. Any trash must be taken out of the park by teams.
  8. No teams attending from outside the Northern Virginia Area, who are not Associate Members of VASRA or Invitees.
  9. Regatta participants will not exceed pods of 25.


    1. Referees shall follow the guidelines as set forth by USRowing.
    2. Additional mask will be provided to the referees for crews’ use in the event of a water recovery.


  1. Athletic Trainer/s will be on site.
  2. Trainers will be at the headquarters and/or finish.
  3. An isolation tent will be available to isolate any suspected cases of COVID-19.


    1. Additional portable toilets made available per COVID-19 requirements at the expense of the regatta host. Located at the recovery dock, rigging area, parking pick up and drop off area.
    2. Boat disinfection materials will be provided by each team for pre and post use cleaning of the boats.
    3. Hand sanitizing materials will be provided by teams at team locations.


  1. Police officer(s) will be onsite to assist with parking and crowd control.


  1. Regatta staff will assist park personnel in Lot C and D.
  2. Drop off and pick ups in Lot C. Vehicles to circle through to exit by the side gate.
  3. Athletes are to maintain social distancing while awaiting pick up. Spots marked by spray paint.
  4. Athlete parking in Lot D.
  5. Referee, Athletic Trainers and Course Personnel only in Lot B. Staff parking passes will be on display.
  6. Coaches parking will be in Lot C with overflow into Lot D if required.

Event Details

  1. Gathering Locations:  Attach Map
  2. The first 4 regattas will be heats only, which means that rowers will leave after their race. Rowers, other than visitors will arrive 1 hour before the start time of their event and depart immediately after. Visitors will be allowed additional time to rig equipment.
  3. Once heats and finals begin on week 5, the events will be grouped to allow for a break for event participants to conduct heats and finals, then clear the park before further participants enter.  Participants will be directed to their team areas to social distance between events.
  4. Participants are not to arrive before scheduled time.  Coaches will disincentives early arrivals.  Participants will wait in their vehicles until their scheduled arrival time.
  5. Participants will proceed to their designated team area. 
  6. On completion of racing and having recovered their boat to the boathouse, rowers will exit the park no more than 30 minutes after their last event.  
  7. 47. Approximate time in the park is 2 hours. An additional 30 minutes for visiting, trailered crews for rigging and de-rigging.  
  8. 48. If athletes are required to remain in the park between events or heats and finals, then they will proceed to their team area where they will maintain social distancing.



  1. General Eligibility Rules for VASRA Regattas

    1. All competitors in a boat must attend the same high school. Composite crews are not allowed.

    2. Rowers may enter in only one championship event or championship. Rowers competing in a championship event may not row in a non-championship event (3rd boat or below).

    3. Rowers may be permitted to double row in two non-championship events.

    4. Coxswains may cox in two events or cox in one event and row in one event.

    5. Athletic eligibility begins with a student’s initial enrollment in the 9th grade. After eight consecutive semesters, a student will have completed his/her athletic eligibility and may no longer participate in VASRA regattas.

    6. Competitors who have reached the age of 19 on or before August 1 of that school year are no longer eligible to participate in VASRA regattas.

    7. Junior events are restricted to competitors in the 11th grade (junior year) or lower. Juniors, including coxswains, must not have attained the age of 18 years prior to September 1 of that academic year.

    8. A team must enter a first eight in order to enter a second eight. Boats must be the same type and gender. A team may not skip events, i.e., teams not entering a 1st boat may not enter a 2nd or 3rd boat.

    9. No “B” boats are permitted in all sweep, eight and four oared, events. Single and double sculls events do permit multiple entries per team. Additional entries should designate themselves as  junior if applicable.

    10. All Rowers must have passed a swim test of at least 100 meters (any stroke, no time limit) or treading water for 2 minutes

  2. Waivers

    1. All Rowers must have a USRowing waiver completed and submitted online to the USRowing Website (Paper waivers are not acceptable).  

    2. Teams must be an organizational Member of U.S. Rowing

  3. Lightweights - Suspended for the 2021 Season

  4. Pre Regatta Meetings

    1. Coaches Meeting - Virtual Meeting at 8:30 pm the Friday before the regatta.

    2. Coxswains Meeting - Virtual Meeting at 8:30 pm the Thursday before the regatta.

  5. Visiting Crews

    1. A crew by registering for this regatta agrees to abide by the Rules of the Regatta as stated on the Regatta Central web site for that regatta.

    2. A crew by registering for this regatta agrees to abide by the VASRA supplement to the USRowing  Rules of Rowing and any other documents pertaining to the conduct of the regattas posted on the VASRA Web site, Representative’s Handbook

    3. A Visiting Crew must be a scholastic team with all of its members from one school, register via Regatta Central and pay applicable fees.

    4. Visiting Schools must provide a Master Eligibility List (MEL) signed by the School’s Principal, Athletic Director or equivalent listing all rowers and certifying that the rowers are in good standing with the school.  More information on the Master Eligibility List can be found in the Executive Summary on the Representative’s Handbook.  A sample MEL, used by the Virginia High School League, is also included in the Representative’s Handbook. The MEL or equivalent document must be submitted to [email protected] no later than Thursday prior to the regatta. 

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