At a meeting held on Friday afternoon, the IRA Stewards informed the coaches in attendance of outcome of the review of the current IRA format. Three major changes will alter the look, docket, and location of the IRA, effective next year; we covered the origins and implications of the changes back in February in The 40 Year Storm: Change Comes to the 106th (or 107th) IRA Regatta.
To start, the 2009 regatta will be held on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, CA. The possibility that the regatta would be held on the west coast in an alternating or at least regular basis (perhaps every third year or the like) has been under discussion and consideration for some time; at present, no firm site has been chosen beyond 2009.
Second, the current docket of numerous events and races will contract to include the following events: Varsity 8, Second Varsity 8, Freshman 8, and Open 4 (the Open 4 may include both freshman and upperclass/varsity athletes), as well as both lightweight men and women. Eighteen full teams will be invited to compete in all four heavyweight events, while six additional Varsity eights will be invited on an at-large basis for a total of 24 Varsity eight entries.
Finally, the regatta will be limited to "Intercollegiate Varsity" programs only; the primary and most contentious implication here is the elimination of club programs from the regatta. As has been reported on row2k also, in anticipation of the change, the club programs established the ACRA Championship, which is open to collegiate club programs only.
row2k will continue to report on developments on these issues as they occur.