Carnegie Lake Rowing Association

Celebrating Community Rowing in Princeton, NJ Since 1985

Racing orientation

CLRA participates in many regattas in the Spring and Fall seasons.

Spring regattas are 1000m races (SPRINT races) and Fall regattas are ~4000-5000m races (HEAD races). Sprint regattas start in early June and run through mid-August. Fall regattas take place in September through November. All regattas but Masters Nationals, Canadian Henley (Summer) and Head of the Charles (October) are local (DE/PA/NJ/NY/CT/DC). Racers share the cost of racing (entry and trailer fees). For most regattas, racers need to be available two weeks before the race day for race practices and be at the race for the entire day. For the Head of the Charles, racers should be largely available four weeks before the event.

A schedule of regattas can be found under the Racing tab on the CLRA Website

This document outlines what you will need to race, the rowers' rules and responsibilities, and the coach's perspective.


You need a US Rowing membership, a signed electronic waiver (through the US Rowing website), a race uniform, and to be an active member in good-standing (all dues up to date and paid and frequent rower)

US Rowing membership

To become a member (individuals) go to

You will need to select Carnegie Lake Rowing Association as your club and the club code is: CQWUM

Which membership do you need?

  • BASIC - Everyone.
  • CHAMPIONSHIP/ REGATTA PACKAGE - Anyone looking to compete in US Rowing-hosted events such as Masters Nationals will need to upgrade beyond basic membership to either a REGATTA PACKAGE, or a CHAMPIONSHIP membership. Please read the descriptions while joining/renewing to make the best decision for your needs.

You can upgrade at any time to a Championship/Regatta Package so if you're not sure, start with Basic!

The racer data from the US rowing site is automatically pulled into the Regatta Central website, the main hub for all regattas. Correct date of birth and email address that you use for club correspondences are critical. Also, if you use a different name than your official one (e.g., you go by your middle name but you register with your first name), please let us know so you sync with our roster.

Online Waiver

To sign an online waiver, login into the US Rowing website and follow the waiver instructions. The waiver needs to be signed once a year. No waiver, no racing!

Race Uniforms

All rowers must wear CLRA racing uniforms to race. We compete in white/orange/black racing gear (unisuits, tank tops, T-shirt, or long-sleeve tops) with orange CL logo. We order uniforms once a year at a discount. Orders typically take place mid-end of April (~ 6 weeks before the first regatta). If you need racing apparel, contact Denise Dwyer.

Financial Considerations

All fees, including registration, equipment rental, fuel, truck and trailer maintenance, etc. are borne by the rowers, not the club, and divided equitably among all those racing at that regatta. Race practices cost the same as "regular" on the water practices. The total cost depends on the number of rowers and the regatta organization but the range for local regattas is ~ $45-$90 /rower. For distant/multi-day regattas, the financial outlay may be considerable (including additional travel/lodging expenses).


Once you have met the above basic requirements, you are ready for racing!

Race Invitation/ Member sign-up

A month before each race, an invitation will be sent to all club members. By signing up for a race, members are committing to being available two weeks before the race for practices (typically 2-3 practices per week, per lineup) and being available for the entire day on race day. Members will have one week to sign up after which the race roster will be closed. Members need to indicate if they have a preferred side to row, their age (as of Dec 31st), and any other comment they may have (availability issue, maximum # of races, lightweight, sculling partner, etc.).


Coaches are responsible for boatings.

CLRA is organized differently from most rowing clubs. We are a community rowing club that exists within the boundaries of Princeton University (PU). The lead Coach is typically an assistant coach at PU working on an academic schedule (absent part of the summer) and staying with PU one or two years before he/she gains a permanent position. This creates a gap in coaching that our club has addressed by working with long term local coaches (continuity coaches). These coaches know the CLRA rowers and help us with boatings during these gaps.

When race sign ups close, the list of rowers, gender, age and potential scheduling conflicts are sent to the Coach, who then works over a period of several days to create lineups. The Race Captain reviews the information and checks for administrative race time and age conflicts, notifying the coach directly if any changes are needed to make line-ups practically possible. Under rare and exceptional circumstances, the Race Captain can request a review of boatings with the President and Captain. If appropriate, this review team will ask the Coach to consider changes before lineups are sent out to racers. Racers may not make individual requests for reviews of or changes to boatings.

For sweep boats, the Coach creates assignments using the following criteria:

  1. Providing an opportunity for rowers to row in boats that match their skill level.
  2. Maximizing the chances of winning races.
  3. Including as many people as possible given criteria 1 and 2 above.

Additional notes:

  • Pairs/ Doubles manage their own partners.
  • Head of the Charles and Masters Nationals regattas follow a slightly modified approach given their unique logistics. More details below.

Coaches perspective

  1. Abide by all safety rules.
  2. Take proper care of equipment.
  3. Race boat assignments are given much consideration and are made up using a variety of factors:
    1. COACH EVALUATION: Technique, output, moving a boat. The coach sees it on the water.
    2. PERFORMANCE: Work hard at every practice and demonstrate your efforts. Be coachable!
    3. ATTENDANCE: Regular practice attendance is necessary. The coach must know you to boat you!
    4. LOGISTICS: Boatings depend on available events as well as other rowers.
    5. ERG SCORES: Not a major factor, but another piece of information.


The race captain, Elisabeth Hauptman, will send an excel spreadsheet with three tabs: (1) Boatings (2) A race practice schedule (weekdays only). This schedule also assigns specific boats and oars for each practice. The practice schedule is firm. (3) A preliminary regatta schedule.

Occasionally, Sunday practices can be added depending on rower/ coach/ boat availability. As a rule, we generally do not make practices for mixed boats unless there is time in the schedule.

Boat Captains (BC)

The race captain assigns a Boat Captain (BC) to each boat (noted as star * in the lineups). The BC responsibilities include: (1) secure practice coxswains; (2) communicate with the boat members and confirm attendance at all practices; (3) confirm that all rowers have a ride to the regatta; (4) confirm attendance at loading, unloading, de-rig/rigging, and be in charge of rounding up the rowers before hands-on at the regatta. (5) be the boat "voice" and manage all communication with the race captain. This includes boat issues/ questions during practices or race day and logistic information regarding trailer information.

We will continue to use Signup Genius for practice coxswains. If you are new to Signup Genius, you will need to go to and create a free account.

IMPORTANT: If you have a practice, DO NOT sign up to row in the regular fashion, but refer to the race practice spreadsheet. Race practices are "off-line" and are managed separately from regular practices.

Trailer Management/ Boat De-rigging/ Boat Loading

The Trailer Management Team (TMT) is an arm of the race team. It is led by Loretta McCarthy with the help of Todd Rossi. The TMT is responsible for the contents of the trailer and for assuring safe and efficient loading/unloading at home and at the regatta sites. They are also responsible for renting the truck, driving the trailer, and for assigning additional riders in the truck.

Typically, the Friday before the race weekend, a boat captain with their boat (not practicing that day) will be assigned as the TTT (Trailer Transfer Team). This team is responsible for arriving between 6:15-6:30 and transferring all items (boats, oars, riggers, etc.) from the CLRA trailer to the adjacent trailer to clear space for the traveling boats. All small boats must be secured with straps to the adjacent trailer for safety!

Once the transfer is done, the TTT team will join the other racing boat teams just coming off the water after their last practice to:

  1. Prepare the hulls for loading (de-rig, secure seats, check heel ties and wing nuts on foot stretchers, tie any loose equipment). Riggers should be grouped together and each boat should be color-coded with tape so they are easily identifiable. The BC is responsible for their racing boat to ensure that it is properly de-rigged and safe to load. No boats leave the apron area until they are approved and passed by an assigned experienced club member w/ BC.
  2. Safely and efficiently load the boats on the trailer. They will be loaded sequentially as directed by the Race Captain or TMT captain, and secured to the trailer by designated strappers only.
  3. Stow all riggers, oars, and other items going to the regatta.

Loading is a critical part of racing and could be a safety hazard if not properly done. A couple of experienced members will be assigned to help with the derigging process and ensure that all questions are answered! Members who are new to rowing can ask to be paired with a race mentor in order to learn about the technicalities of boat loading.

Note that every member racing must be present during the loading process. Allow extra time that morning because it can easily last until 7:30-8:00am. If you are unable to be there, you must find a substitute. This responsibility is to be treated with the same commitment as a race practice!

Race Day

Location of the trailer will be texted to the boat captains. Boat captains should ensure they are in text contact with their boat mates.

Be at the regatta site at least 2 hours before your first race. Factor in travel, parking, walking time. This time is also needed to unload the boats and re-rig them. For the team spirit, consider arriving early even if you have a late race so you can help your teammates and cheer them on! Oars and shoe bags are often brought to the docks by teammates. If race timing is tight and boats need to be rigged/de-rigged quickly, you may be asked to come earlier than you intended; please be responsive to these requests to make the regatta run smoothly for everyone!

Stay until the last race of the day to help de-rig/load the boats on the trailer (same process as the Friday before!)

Final unloading occurs at the boathouse typically the evening of the regatta once the trailer has arrived. It is the responsibility of the Boat Captain to relay trailer arrival time to their boat. Boats are re-rigged and put away where they came from, and sculling boats and oars on the adjoining trailer returned to our trailer and are secured. Cox boxes need to be returned and plugged in. Again, all racers need to be present for the unloading process at the boathouse. Many hands make light work!


The Race Captain, Elisabeth Hauptman, manages the administrative duties concerning regattas, practices, and schedules. If you have questions about any logistical aspect of regattas, from sign-ups to practices to other race-related issues and concerns, please address them to Elisabeth.

The Lead or Continuity Coach makes the boat lineups. Complaints regarding boatings will not be entertained. If you have a question about how you have been selected you may ask for feedback from the Coach in person at designated times or in the minutes immediately after practice. In the course of practice, the coach may wish to communicate with a boat team. The boat captain represents the boat in these discussions.

In the case of questions or concerns about any of these processes, please contact the Club Captain, Todd Rossi, not the coaches.


Committing to a regatta presumes availability for all practices. Sometimes, however, life intervenes (we are masters rowers, after all), and you need to obtain a sub for a practice. In that case, it is the rower’s responsibility to get a suitable sub (one who rows your side and who would be roughly approximate to your size and skill level); notify your boat captain of your absence and who your sub is.


If you must drop out of the race after the boats are made, notify the Race Captain immediately. All situations are handled on a case-by-case basis. Generally, dropping out after boats are made should only occur in case of emergency.

Race Dropout Payment Policy

There are two legitimate reasons for a rower withdrawing from a regatta for which he or she has signed up: (1) personal illness/injury that prohibits their participation and (2) true family emergency (e.g., serious illness, death, etc.). Unless there is a mutually beneficial agreement between the sub and the dropout rower, the following will happen:

  1. The rower who withdraws from the regatta for which they've been boated pays all practice seat fees.
  2. The sub who is assigned by the coach and the rower who withdraws from the regatta split the regatta cost.

Note: Rowers who are boated and then withdraw from any regatta commitment for other reasons will bear the full cost of both practice seat fees and regatta fees.

Waiting list

If a rower finds out he/she is available for a regatta after the signups are closed, you may be placed on a “waiting list”. A wait-listed rower may replace a dropout racer, with no fees to be incurred by the early dropout (legitimate reasons still apply). There is no guarantee you will be boated.

Rowers' rules and responsibilities

CLRA wants to maximize participation in races while optimizing the racing experience for everyone.

Commitment, learn,  respect, and aspiration

COMMITMENT: to racing, schedules, your club, your teammates, and to safety. RACING is why we go to regattas!

The commitment is to race to 100% of your abilities, whether you’re in one race or more races on the day. Commit to the race, commit to your teammates, commit to doing your best and having fun, and when it’s over, being able to say you feel good about what you put out there, whether you claim hardware or not. Enjoy the journey.

TIME COMMITMENT: Time/schedule commitments are critical for the smooth running of all activities leading up to and during regattas. Assume a full day commitment for all regattas. Some regattas are multi-day (e.g., Masters Nationals), requiring attendance for all days, including travel. Leave enough time to get to the race site.

CLUB COMMITMENT: The club goals come before the needs or desire of any individual. Engage/ Encourage club members to race! Be an active rower in good standing. Make sure your seat fees are paid. Regular attendance at practices is required if you expect to be boated in a race.

SAFETY: At home or away, on land or in the water, around the trailer- safety is our paramount concern at all times, and everyone’s responsibility. On the water, listen to the refs and the cox and follow instructions. No talking except in case of emergency. Off the water, follow instructions of race officials and the dock master.

LEARN Continuously strive to learn. Be open to listening to feedback, to receiving constructive criticism, and work actively to improve. Be patient! It takes time to see results when you make a change. Seek out experienced rowers and learn all you can from them!

RESPECT your teammates, your coaches, your opponents, your coxswains, the race organizers, the regatta officials, the dock masters, etc. Let the coaches do the coaching during practices. Focus on your stroke and making the boat go faster! Respect the equipment (boats /oars /riggers, cox boxes, etc.), whether it is ours or borrowed / rented, while rowing, rigging, de-rigging, loading / unloading, etc. Respect for time schedules, practices or races.

ASPIRATION “Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no timeouts, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from the mind, heart, and body". – George Pocock

Race Reminders

  1. Sign up during the posted dates online.
  2. Final instructions for each regatta will be emailed in the last couple of days before the regatta, including directions and other key information. Please, read the emails in full! They contain all the information you need.
  3. Wear sunscreen; bring a hat and sunglasses.
  4. Eat a sensible breakfast and bring digestible food to the regatta.
  5. Hydrate well. Bring plenty of water/sports drinks.
  6. All rowers are expected to be at the regatta site no later than 2 hours before the start of their first race.
  7. Factor in travel, parking, and walking time to race site arrival.
  8. Carpool—parking is usually quite limited at regattas.
  9. Volunteer to ride with the trailer in the Big Truck (confirm with Loretta).
  10. Race site meeting place is almost always the CLRA trailer.
  11. Bring your race uniform. All racing in crew boats must be performed in a club uniform
  12. Bring extra layers (for cooler days) and a change of clothes (especially for hot &/or wet days).
  13. Bring extra toilet paper for the port-o-potties and hand-cleaning gel.
  14. You may want to bring camp chairs, blankets, coolers, etc. for a picnic or repose area between races—or for the accompanying fans (who are welcome).
  15. Check all equipment (foot stretchers, riggers, spacers, oars, etc.) before launching. Make sure your riggers are on correctly and your oars aren’t backwards (seriously). Not sure? ASK!
  16. Meet with your cox pre-race to discuss strategy and calls and hands-on time.
  17. Be polite to our hosts, the volunteers and officials at the regatta.
  18. Be aware of obstructions and the path to and from the dock.
  19. Follow instructions of the dock master at all times. Be considerate of others who are trying to launch or dock.
  20. The cox is in charge. Follow all instructions to the letter.
  21. Once you approach the line, complete focus is required. No talking.
  22. After the race, Boat Captains to check with Race Captain for the time of unloading after the regatta.


Head of the Charles and Masters Nationals

Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR)

The Head of the Charles is a very competitive regatta that presents CLRA the opportunity to compete at the highest Masters level. In the rowing world, it is the equivalent of the New York or Boston marathon. It is also a tremendous amount of fun. It involves a weekend commitment and a drive to Boston, with a typical overnight stay on Friday and sometimes Saturday. There is only one ~5,000m race event for sweep rowers.

What makes the Head of the Charles boating situation unique is the lottery process. There are two ways to send a boat to HOCR: (1) having a “qualified” boat from the prior year or (2) getting selected via a lottery. Qualified boats from the prior year must typically finish in the top ~50% of their event. The lottery process has also seen a significant increase in the number of applicants over the years, which has led to lower odds of getting a boat. The implication is that there is a limited number of boats/seats that CLRA has for the Head of the Charles based on what we get in the lottery and boatings have to be considered carefully to select crews that have the greatest chances of qualifying for the following year.

The following process will be followed to select boatings for the Head of the Charles:

  • Signups for interested rowers will take place during the summer preceding the race
  • The Race Captain will hold a meeting to present lottery scenarios and strategies, along with potential consequences of the lottery outcome. At this point rowers are asked to either commit to the HOCR selection process or drop out of consideration if potential outcomes do not fit their expectations.
  • The Race Captain will then proceed with the lottery submission for the club. Once CLRA knows which boats were awarded in the lottery, the boating process will begin.
  • In addition to the boating criteria described in sections above, the Coach will also be asked to consider:
    • Race boatings and results from the prior year, as posted on the CLRA racing page.
    • Any erg test scores as might be observed during the season or as part of the boating process.

Masters Nationals

Similar to the Head of the Charles, Masters Nationals is a very competitive regatta with clubs gathering across the country to compete. Unlike the Head of the Charles, this regatta focuses specifically on competition at the Masters level. The event spans 4 days and requires a significant time and money commitment for hotels and flights, depending on location. There are often multiple 1,000m races in a day.

Masters Nationals logistics are unique in that typically, each participant is limited to 6 events, including sweep and sculling events. Each event can require up to three individual races (heats, semis and finals) which can all run on the same day. In practice, this means that higher performing rowers may have more races as line-ups are prioritized for winning medals. From time to time, a choice has to be made in real-time about dropping out of one race to preserve team members’ energy for a race where there is a higher chance of medaling. CLRA coaches are not present at the event, so any last-minute decisions require more self-organization and close coordination between rowers.

Due to the logistics above, Masters National is supported by the club, but is not directly managed on site. The club does its best to provide race practices for Masters Nationals boats in the 2-3 weeks leading up to the race. The club may not always send CLRA equipment to Masters Nationals, so procuring boats an oars may fall on the participants.

The following process will be followed for Masters Nationals to select boatings:

  • An interest signup will take place in early summer.
  • Due to the complexity of racing and the required self-organization, only experienced rowers will be considered. The Coach will select rowers who are best qualified to participate.
  • A minimum of 4 rowers will be required for the club to actively support rowers (registration, practices) going to the regatta. Rowers/ scullers may choose to participate on their own if there are not enough interested/qualified club members.
  • The Coach will follow a similar boating process as described in the general criteria above with the following additions:
    • For 4s and 8s, the Coach will make the priority lineups. A priority lineup is a lineup who has the best potential to medal. The Coach will decide who will race in the priority 8+ and will identify a priority 4+ in each age category. The Coach will include each team member in at least one priority boat.
    • The Team and Race Captains will review to ensure there are no gross errors (age/ rowing side / schedule)

‚óŹ If the CLRA Race Captain cannot be at the regatta, the selected participants will elect a Regatta Captain prior to the regatta. If there is a tie or if there are no volunteers, the Race Captain will appoint the Regatta Captain. The Regatta Captain is a respected and experienced team member and may have to make difficult boating decisions during the event as schedules or events change in subsequent days. The reasoning behind these decisions will be discussed as a team. It may lead to a reduction in the number of races for some individuals. All regatta participants are expected to respect and support her/his decisions. Priority will be given to boats with the most chances for medaling and CLRA races will take priority over any races with other clubs. No participant is guaranteed any number of races for any of the regatta days.

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