Students compete in 26th Fisher Regatta
Megan Valley | Monday, April 25, 2016
Thirty-six boats raced across Saint Mary’s Lake on Saturday afternoon at Fisher Hall’s Regatta for a crowd of over 1,000 people, according to Fisher Regatta commissioner Ryan O’Donnell.
“The turnout was a lot nicer than last year because there was no rain,” he said. “There were a lot more rectors than in previous years that showed up to watch their dorms and there were a lot of families at the finish line, a lot of kids and older adults.”
O’Donnell estimated that between 12 and 15 boats sank at one point or another during the race.
The purpose of the Regatta, “along with having fun,” is to raise money for St. Adalbert’s, a local Catholic school. Last year, the event raised $5,000 renovate the gym, according to Aaron Collier, co-director of advertising and photography for the Regatta.
“Last year, we redid their basketball court floor and we’ll continue to do more, along with our partnership with McGlinn Hall,” Collier said. “So as we continue to do these things, it’s really inspirational, it’s a lovely event.”
“This year we’re raising money to renovate the front entrance,” O’Donnell said “We’re trying to give them a foyer-type entrance so when you get in, you have to be allowed into the rest of the building. It’ll make the school a lot safer and more secure.
“We have, so far, raised $7,000,” he said. “That’s not a set number, we’re getting more donations and we’re hoping by the end to have $8,000. We’re almost there.”
Collier said that in addition to the races, there was “so much going on for the people,” including, free hamburgers and hot dogs, a slushie machine, a DJ, Spikeball and people lounging on blankets.
The races were split into men and women’s divisions; O’Donnell said there were 20 boats competing in the men’s and 16 in the women’s.
“My favorite boat today had got to be the ‘meat boat’,” Collier said. “So the meat boat is this beautiful piece of machinery and basically, all it is is wood, random empty barrels, more wood. The problem with it is you have to row and in order to row, you have to stand on it. But you stand on it with 13 other guys and it’s just not that conducive to, well, movement. What happened is their boat flipped three different times and they still found the willpower to get over to the other side. I don’t understand how they did it but they did.”
O’Donnell also said he had some clear favorites in the competition, including one that was powered by a tandem bicycle.
“One boat put an anchor into their boat because they wanted to camp out in the middle of the lake,” he said. “Another put a futon on their monstrosity and rode that across. There was the party barge, as always, from Fisher that put 15, 16 guys on it and it totally capsized. Then there was the inflatable pool that made it to the finals, even though it was technically illegal.”
Pangborn Hall defeated Ryan Hall to win the women’s division while a boat built by Moreau Seminary and raced by Old College beat out Knott Hall and the American Society of Civil Engineers in a three-way final for the men’s.
While O’Donnell said he loved seeing which boats sank, his favorite part of the Regatta is seeing how happy it makes the spectators.
“I really enjoy that other people enjoy the Regatta,” he said. “Being on staff, you sometimes miss out on the actual fun times that are happening because you’re busy, but after you sit back and think about it, I really enjoy that everyone else had a fun time.”
Collier said the sense of unity that comes from the Regatta is his favorite part of helping to plan the signature event.
“Regatta is one of the most spectacular events to ever come to the campus of Notre Dame and that’s very true for a multitude of reasons. The biggest reasons of which are simply that this event is something that brings people together. It brings people together and tears boats apart.
“Quite frankly, I believe Fisher Hall is responsible, personally, for between 40 and 50 percent of the pollution present in Saint Mary’s Lake,” he said. “Why is that so true? Because we really suck when it comes to getting boats out of the water — or people really suck at building them. Either way.”