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Thursday, 24 September 2015 10:26

Pulling It All Together

By | News

Saratoga Rowing Association’s Mission: A Year-round Premier Rowing Destination

SARATOGA SPRINGS – With Saturday’s Tail of the Fish Regatta scheduled to launch about 8 a.m., it is important to celebrate the year-round impact that the Saratoga Rowing Association (SRA) has on the local economy. Yes, they put on world-class regattas, but an important part of their greater mission is: To grow Saratoga into a premier rowing destination. That mission got a big boost earlier this week, with the beginning of construction on a new Saratoga Training and Regatta Center on Route 9P. 

 

This center, scheduled to be completed in February of 2016, is the cornerstone of a $1.25 million capital campaign that began earlier this year with contributions from Bonacio Construction, Stewart’s Shops and the Dake Family, Adirondack Trust Company and other community leaders as well as the public.

 

According to SRA Board President Katherine Smith, the fundraising for the campaign is about 70 percent complete, and donations are still welcome (visit SaratogaRowing.com/campaign). 

 

Smith, citing statistics from the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, the impact from the Regattas (including the Tail of the Fish, Head of the Fish and Saratoga Invitational, and others) already generates impressive numbers:

  • 10,000+ hotel room nights
  • An overall $8.9 million annual local impact on the economy

 It is worth noting that this impact is generated between Labor and Memorial Day – outside the height of the traditional Saratoga tourism season. 

 

So, the new training center will serve to increase an already robust economic impact that SRA fosters locally. Once complete, it will also greatly expand the ability for year-round indoor training of athletes. “When it’s up and running, we will have the capacity to train 200 young athletes in grades 7-12, plus 40 adults, all in one day.” Smith noted. 

 

Saturday’s Tail of the Fish Regatta is a success story begun by SRA Regatta Director Chris Chase in 1997. This one-day event will bring over 300 boats and 36 registered teams, from as far as Cope Cod, MA and throughout the Northeast, to compete on Saratoga Lake, along with thousands of viewers and supporters who will line the shore. This regatta has several important early-season functions for the teams involved. 

 

“It gives an opportunity for teams that are just beginning the season to settle on the lineup(s) that work best,” said SRA Executive Director Eric Catalano, who also is the Varsity Girls Head Coach. “It gets newer rowers an initiation into the competitiveness of regatta action, with an emphasis on local rivalries, such as with Albany, Shenendehowa, Niskayuna, Burnt Hills and Emma Willard that traditionally field strong teams. Chris Chase always does a great job reaching out to the other squads and putting together a solid lineup.” Chase, like many on SRA’s dedicated staff, wears more than one hat – he is also the Freshman Boys Coach. 

 

As far as SRA’s teams, Catalano said, “…the squads are deep and evenly balanced – from both an age group and gender standpoint. We are coming off a strong showing at the Head of the Hudson in Albany.” Catalano notes that the Tail of the Fish is also a great opportunity for someone new to view the sport of rowing, as “the weather is nearly always ideal,” he said. This early prelude to some of the major fall regattas, including Saratoga’s two-day Head of the Fish (on Saturday October 31 and Sunday, November 1 this year) also gives Smith, who also serves as SRA’s Volunteer Coordinator, a chance to work out logistics with about 125 volunteers, whose ranks will nearly double at the end of next month. 

 

The new training center will be faithful to the rich heritage of rowing in Saratoga that SRA has stewarded since their founding in 1996. In a nice piece of symmetry, the architect of the new building is Tom Frost, who is the creator of the iconic and highly treasured Head of the Fish Trophy. It will also have expanded facilities, Smith noted. “The new facility will have locker rooms and showers. In addition, the bottom floor will have a regatta office that will have staff and serve as a headquarters for day-of- event activities. It will be a much better situation for logistics.”

 

“Also, the second floor will have temporary adult housing space for visiting coaches and race officials, and will give us room for our youth and adult summer camp.” Smith added. 

 

At any major well-run event, such as the Tail of the Fish Regatta, there are many things that go on behind the scenes that the public often doesn’t see until they arrive on event day; this is also the case with a lot of the Saratoga Racing Association’s activities to make Saratoga a premier destination for rowing – but we need not wait for the eventual ribbon-cutting to salute their dedication to that cause.  

 

“We’re very grateful to all that helped bring us to this point with their support,” Katherine Smith said, “I’m happy to point out to any of our contributors that 100 percent of our Board, and all of our members, about 170 families, gave to this campaign before the public kickoff.”

 

“It set us up for an exciting future that everyone will enjoy.”

 

For more information, visit SaratogaRowing.com.

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