It’s taken me 3 years and a lot of “I wish I would have brought ____” to figure out what I need when I go to regattas in the spring. I am a chronic over-packer, but like the boy scouts, I am always prepared for whatever Midwest weather has in store.
Here is what I deem essential to bring to any early spring regatta in the greater Midwest region:
1. Plastic bag
Trash bag, target bag, whatever kind of bag pick your poison. You never know what you’re going to need it for until you need it. You could sit on it, put your wet racing clothes in it or put your backpack in it to keep it dry.
2. Two more pairs of socks than you think you’re going to need
One pair for every race you have that day, one for after you race and two more pairs in addition to that. There are few things that are more miserable than wet feet and at a regatta this is inevitable.
Even if it doesn’t rain it’ll act as a good wind breaking layer. Having a hood to put on can make a big difference as well.
3.5. Winter Coat
If the weather is looking like it’s going to be cold the weekend of a regatta I would think about bringing a winter coat. It seems like overkill, but it’s always colder in the morning, especially next to a body of water.
4. Rain paints
If you can get past the swishing noise they make they will be the best thing that has ever happened to you at a regatta. They look so stupid but they will keep you warm, dry and happy.
5. Warm hat/visor/sunglasses
It doesn’t hurt to have a beanie and a visor with you as well as sunglasses in case of all kinds of weather.Where I’m from it can be nasty freezing rain to blustery and sunny over the course of a day. Wear them individually or for extra style points wear them all at the same time.
6. Warm up clothes
You’re going to want to be dressed pretty warmly when you launch for racing. Depending on the weather this could be long trou, a long sleeve, turtle vest, splash jacket and pogies. Some days it might just be a long sleeve. It’s really dumb to launch in just a uni early in the spring. I’ve done it before and I learned my lesson. Warmth is free speed.
7. A warm/dry outfit to wear after racing
Don’t count on wearing anything that you wore to warm up in after the race. The clothes that you brought with you in the boat are going to be soaking wet. You’re going to want some nice sweats, a dry sports bra/underwear/trou depending on your preferences and racing schedule. Throw on that rain coat and enjoy watching other people’s racing and loading the trailer instead of freezing your butt off because you’re cold and crabby.
I don’t care how cold it is or if it’s cloudy all day. If you’re spending the whole day outside it’s a good idea to have some kind of UV protection–on your face at the least.
I wouldn’t depend on the parent tent or your team for all of your food. It might not be ready when you need it, it might be picked over, it might be non-existent. Pack a couple of clif bars, an apple, fruit snacks, a PB&J and maybe some chocolate. Don’t let yourself get hungry.
For listening to pump up tunes or not having to listen to the novices talk about stupid things. Bus rides and pre-race can be miserable if you don’t have them.
At the end of the day, the only thing you really can’t forget is your uni. It doesn’t matter how many pairs of socks you bring, but you’re not getting in your boat without your uni. Love it, cherish it, don’t forget to wash it right away when you get home.
Now that you have everything you might need, go forth and race your heart out. Spring season is finally here! Be prepared for anything and enjoy every crazy little thing that happens.