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Regatta raises funds, fosters Fisher community

Christian Myers | Monday, April 30, 2012

The smell of burgers, lyrics of “Call Me Maybe” and cries of “You Gotta Regatta” filled the air around St. Mary’s Lake on Saturday during the 26th annual Fisher Regatta.

A team of 15 Fisher Hall residents, led by juniors Patrick Bowlds, Matt Hart and Jeff Wang, organized this year’s Regatta, which promotes camaraderie among Fisher residents and raises money for charity.

Bowlds said the event raised more than $1,500 from entrance fees and sale of regatta tanks, all of which will be given to the André House of Hospitality in Phoenix, Arizona.

The competition featured 45 boats, including six from Fisher, Hart said. Two Fisher boats finished among the final four boats in the men’s bracket.

For the second year in a row, Knott Hall’s “Knacht Yott” took first place in the men’s bracket. Juniors Rob Ray, James Kaull and Jeff Ulrich and seniors Hans Helland and Andrew Bell comprised the five-man crew during the final round. Another team member, freshman Alex Miram, filled in for Ray in the first round.
Ray designed the boat, which consisted of a fiberglass canoe with an attached outrigger that was added after the canoe capsized in its first year of use. He said this year’s victory validated the team’s success last year.

“The victory feels pretty good. Last year was an iffy win, so it’s good to win two years in a row,” Ray said.

“The Green Pearl” from Pangborn Hall won the women’s bracket, crewed by freshmen Kate Christian and Ingrid Adams and juniors Katie Buczek and Linda Scheiber.

Adams said the team owed their victory to their hydrodynamically-designed boat. Buczek said speed was a major part of their design plan.

“We knew we wanted a canoe, because we wanted to go fast, and canoes tend to be faster than rafts,” Buczek said.

Several boats proved less than lakeworthy during the course of the Regatta.

Dillon Hall’s aptly-named “Big Red Box” began to rock side-to-side early in its journey across the lake. When it became clear the boat was going to capsize, safety personnel brought their boat alongside the “Big Red Box” and junior Trevor Dorn handed over his younger sister, Autumn Cavalieri, who was on board.

Cavalieri said her brother suggested she join the crew of the “Big Red Box,” so her mother signed a waiver allowing her to participate. She said she was not scared by the rocking of the boat and enjoyed participating in the Regatta.

“I liked the idea and I had a lot of fun doing it,” she said.

The boat continued to sway after Cavalieri disembarked, and spectators cheered when it eventually capsized and the rowers were forced to swim ashore.

Junior Kyle Buckley said the group overestimated the number of people their boat could support.

“I want to say it was solidly built. It was the best dumpster we’ve ever built, but it just wasn’t built for 15 people,” Buckley said. “Next year when we’re seniors, we’ll build a box that will get across in style.”

Another notable wreck was the largest boat in the competition: Fisher Hall’s “El Flota Part Deux,” a 16-by-8-foot raft, featuring two miniature basketball hoops that broke almost immediately after entering the water.

Hart said three crewmembers salvaged a section of the boat from the debris and beat their competing boat, which had also broken down, in what became a swimming race to shore.

Sophomore Stephen Elser said the experience was a memorable one.

“As soon as we got in the water there were cracks in the boat. Ten feet from the shore it broke into pieces, and I found myself on a piece with a hoop. Then [junior] Pete [Bratton] and [senior] Stevie [Biddle] helped me swim it to shore and finish the race,” Elser said. “We beat the other boat, and it was the most fun I’ve had since the original ‘El Flota’ broke last year.”

In addition to the boat races, spectators also enjoyed free food and music, which Hart said created a party-like atmosphere.

“The area by the food and speakers was described by one ‘Fisherman’ as an outdoor dorm party,” Hart said. “It was a good way to celebrate the end of the year.”

Hart said he was happy to see students from other dorms enjoying the boat races as well.

“The Regatta is a celebration of Fisher, but it was also fun to see everyone else having a blast out there on the lake,” he said.

Despite the chilly weather, Wang said it did not prevent participants and spectators from enjoying the event.

“I thought it was great that despite the weather not being warm and sunny people still showed up. The Regatta was still awesome,” he said.