Saturday, June 25, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Somehow I made it this far in life without ever having seen a regatta.

That was corrected today at the 8th annual Rocketts Landing Sprints Regatta on the sunny banks of the James.

A friend had invited me because he had been invited by someone throwing a huge party and despite a guest list numbering in the hundreds, he wanted to ensure he had good company.

For me, the best part of the part wasn't the food or the open bar or the view, although I appreciated all three, but the canopies.

I'm not so foolish to go to a riverside event on a sunny day and not wear a hat or slather on sunscreen, but the fact is, the temperature under the canopy was markedly more comfortable, even with non-stop grilling going on nearby.

Coming off that grill were burgers, hot dogs (the same all-beef ones served exclusively at Camden Yards), Italian sausage and corn on the cob. It was the antithesis of last Saturday's Veggie Fest.

I was foolish enough to start with a cheeseburger before making my way to the enormous hot dog that I knew I had to have. 

Frankly (ha!), I don't know how much they cost at an Orioles game, but at free, they were downright delicious.

Although the boat races weren't as frequent as I would have liked, they were a thing of beauty to watch when they did happen. 

The boats were going upriver in 1000-meter sprints and watching them glide across the water belied the work involved in making that happen.

More than a few of the participants were happy to share about the physical challenges of this kind of racing; looking at their bodies backed it up.

You knew a race had begun when audience members would start cheering on their friends and family as they passed us. 

We were almost exactly in front of the finish line, so it was exciting to watch how close some races were.

The crowd was not one with which I had a lot of familiarity. Instead of tattoos and plugs, there were men in shorts with embroidered dogs and big hatted women.

So I didn't fit in, but I still ran into two people I knew (both bartenders), and was introduced to dozens of people, many of whom were happy to talk to me.

Since this is one of the oldest regattas in the country (1888), I intend to jump on future regattas with an enthusiasm for a time-honored tradition, even if I was a little late catching on.

Besides, I like all the meat.

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