Regatta 2018 Recap: A Chilling Experience

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The morning of September 22, 2018 marked an important day of the year for me - I had finally been given the chance to free one of my beloved hoodies from its closet prison. Stepping out into the chilly morning air was an act I had been looking forward to for months, but I couldn’t help but wonder if those participating in the IUPUI Regatta would share my enthusiasm.

Upon arriving at the Indiana State Museum, I made my way to the staging area just behind the starting line on the canal. It was there I found a sizeable group of young men and women milling about in swimwear. Most of the men were wearing Speedo-style trunks, and the women were adorned in two-piece swimsuits.

At first glance I thought these were the people who would be racing canoes down the canal, but I found I was mistaken when, one after the other, they began jumping into the presumably cold water. As they did, they cried out about the new conditions they had subjected themselves to.

“It’s so cold!” one man screeched.

“Oh my God, the bottom is so squishy!” another exclaimed.

As it turned out, these minimally dressed individuals had bravely volunteered to ferry the canoes and their occupants to the starting line. They were the true unsung heroes of the day.

After a brief speech by Chancellor Paydar, the races on the canal began. The first boat off of the starting line quickly made a sharp turn toward the starboard side. Despite the crews’ best efforts at correcting their error, the bow of their canoe struck the wall of the canal. Using their oars to push off from the wall, they eventually managed to right their path and continue their cruise. Many other participants in the race that shared a similar fate-ricocheting back and forth from wall to wall down the length of the canal like ping pong balls.

Other exciting additions to the race included near-misses and a few low-speed collisions. The crowds along the edges of the canals cheered the racers on, whom despite their apparent lack of navigational skills enjoyed themselves fully. Few and far between were the boats that went by that didn’t contain two faces plastered with smiles.

In the end, my suspicions that the participants wouldn’t enjoy themselves fully because of the chilly weather were completely unfounded. The ferry persons sinking their toes into the questionable muck on the bottom of the canal, the zig-zagging canoe crews splashed with the spray from their oars, and the supportive crowds on the sidelines all seemed to have fun.

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