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The Fisher Regatta 2006

Tae Andrews | Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ahoy, mates! This Saturday, scurvy scallywags and barnacle-encrusted boatswains alike will push off in the annual Fisher Regatta. Those intrepid sailors courageous enough to brave the rough seas and toxic waters of St. Mary’s Lake will enter the field in pursuit of the hallowed Regatta Cup, now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

First started in April 1986, the Fisher Regatta boasts a boat race across St. Mary’s Lake. The rules are simple – the vessels must be homemade, all crewmembers must remain in their boats and no boats can intentionally set a crash course with another vessel. Other than that, all bets are off, and may the best boat win.

While for casual Regatta goers attending the Saturday event may be a spur of the moment decision, the dedicated men of Fisher Hall have spent the past week gearing up for the momentous occasion. In preparation for Regatta, Fisher holds its annual Fred and Sally week, so named for Mr. and Mrs. Fred J. Fisher, the donors who helped build the green and white men’s residence hall.

Fisher started Fred and Sally week with a Grotto Mass with Howard this past Sunday night, followed by a grill out. Afterwards, they kicked off the week with an unofficial parade of the newly refurbished “Jolly Piggot,” the ceremonial flagship of Fisher Hall. It stands in dry-dock now, firmly anchored to a tree in front of the South Quad dorm. However, newly adorned with a fresh coat of paint and bearing the green and white standard of Fisher Hall, the “Jolly Piggot” is at once the pride of a dorm’s legacy and its symbol of an ongoing tradition.

This past Monday night, the Fishermen were treated with a talk from the director of Alumni Relations Chuck Lennon at the Eck Visitors center, across from the Notre Dame Bookstore. Known for his ability to incite thousands of Irish fans to “raise the roof” at Notre Dame football pep rallies, Lennon maintains a special relationship with Fisher hall.

Tuesday night was host to Fisher’s annual Section Wars, in which the salty seadogs honed their buccaneer skills with arm wrestling competition, pie eating contests (with both lightweight and heavyweight divisions) and crazy haircuts doled out by fellow dorm members. Doubtless, more than a few rounds of Fisher’s signature chant (“We…We Are…We Are Fisher…We Are Fishermen, Hey!”) broke out during this dorm spirit event. In keeping with their nautical nature, Co-Chairmen John “Mac” Longo and Jeremy Moreno, who cite “The Little Mermaid” and “Captain Ron” as their favorite nautical films, are chairing the Fisher Regatta.

After the conclusion of the Regatta, Fisher will hold its Regatta Dance in the Fisher/Pangborn Courtyard, entitled “Shipwrecked: Lost at Sea,” a fate which hopefully won’t fall upon any of the teams entered in the Regatta field.

“The boats usually do a pretty good job of staying afloat. Usually we have three to four sinkers, but that’s why we have four scuba divers on hand. We’re big on security,” Fisher Regatta Co-Chairman John “Mac” Longo said.

Longo’s words couldn’t be truer. In addition to scuba divers, the Regatta will have three rescue boats on hand, in addition to a veritable host of NDSP, NDFD, and local area South Bend officials ever present in the case of an emergency.

For those vessels that prove themselves seaworthy and manage to stay afloat, the competition will be stiff. Last year, Badin Hall won the Regatta for the women, and O’Neill Hall is the two-time repeat champion on the men’s side. Also, Fisher cross-lake rival Carroll Hall is a consistent threat to the title, always providing a good challenge from the Notre Dame campus’ most secluded dorm, The fierce Griffins of Stanford Hall figure to make a strong push for the Cup, given their runner-up finish last year and the fact that they are captained by the crusty Larry Bailey, as seasoned a bilge rat as they come.

In the past, Notre Dame shipwrights have displayed significant imagination in the design of their watercraft. Two years ago, one vessel was assembled with the use of highly buoyant kegs, and a past girls’ dorm boat was created entirely out of Twister game boards. However, the Regatta Co-Chairmen aren’t resting on their proverbial laurels, offering an inaugural award for the most original craft entered in the Regatta.

“We’re looking for a little more creativity this year,” Fisher Co-Chairman Jeremy Moreno said.

Longo also noted a developing trend in nautical fashion.

“Many Notre Dame rectors and rectresses are big on putting their dogs on their dorms’ boats. However, I don’t think the dogs are too big on that.”

One thing Fisher Hall is big on is charity. With a $30 entry fee per boat, all of the proceeds garnered from the Regatta will go to the charitable organization Andre House. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the Andre House is a homeless shelter run by Holy Cross order priests.

Another part of Fisher’s Hall’s generosity will be the refreshments served up for Regatta landlubbers all day long, free of charge. Fishermen will spend the Saturday afternoon both behind oars at sea and behind barbeques on land, grilling up mouthwatering hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwursts for any who attend the event. The combination of crisp sea air, breathtaking boat racing, and delicious food is more than a good enough reason for any Notre Dame or St. Mary’s student to keelhaul themselves out of bed and motor over to St. Mary’s Lake this Saturday.