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Students set sail across the lake in Fisher Regatta

Irena Zajickova | Friday, April 24, 2009

Tomorrow, 35 boats will set sail in hopes of claiming the glory of victory in the Fisher Regatta.

Some teams will proudly row all the way across St. Mary’s lake while others will sink seconds after the race begins, but only two teams will emerge victorious – one each from the men’s and women’s brackets.

Pat Hogan, the event’s commissioner, said this year marks the 23rd year of the Regatta, and the number of entrants has gone up from last year’s race, which will begin at 1 p.m.

Hogan said planning the Regatta was slightly more difficult this year because of the economic downturn.

“Getting a sponsorship was challenging because so many companies have cutbacks, and the first thing to go is charitable donations,” he said. “So getting responses from people was hard.”

But he was successful in securing sponsorships from some campus favorites – Papa John’s Pizza, Coca-Cola and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Hogan said another challenge was setting a date for the Regatta, given that the weather could be anything from sunny skies to a blizzard.

“There is always the prevalent challenge of whether the weather will comply,” he said. “The glorious weather of South Bend doesn’t always comply with the wishes of the Regatta.”

The event costs $40 to enter and the proceeds will go the Phoenix-based charity Andre House, which serves the poor and the homeless in the area.

Hogan said the winning teams will receive a handful of exciting prizes.

“There are trophies for the winners, free pizza coupons from Papa John’s and the ultimate pride of winning the Fisher Regatta,” he said. “It’s something to tell your grandkids about.”

The Regatta attracts many spectators each year because of the large number of unusual boats in which students proudly attempt to stay afloat.

“Last year, there was a 10-by-12 foot piece of plywood with Fisher-Price basketball hoops and they played five-on-five basketball,” Hogan said. “They didn’t make it very far, but you’ve got to give them respect.”

Even though the event’s boat-building rules operate on the honor system, Hogan said there are always teams that try to find loopholes.

“I don’t want to name names,” Hogan said. “But there’s a dorm that always cheats.”

Hogan, a junior, has been involved in planning the Regatta since his freshman year.

“You apply for [the committee] freshman year and then you’re on it every year,” he explained. “The freshmen are Regatta apprentices and your responsibilities increase every year. Junior year, you can be the Regatta commissioner.”

When asked what the best strategy for winning was, Hogan advised that teams should try their best, and hope that their effort ends up being better than everyone else’s.

“I know the exact best strategy. It’s not only about getting yours, it’s about preventing the other guy from getting theirs,” he said. “My old basketball coach told me that.”