top of page

HOTO Volunteer Bulletin #1

UPMC Head of the Ohio

Volunteer Information Packet


Dear HOTO Volunteer,

Thank you for volunteering at this year’s Head of the Ohio Regatta. This is an event that is not possible without volunteers such as yourselves. You have the thanks of the Three Rivers Board of Directors, the boathouse staff, and the members of the rowing community who participate each year.

This packet will provide you with an overview of the various volunteer positions during HOTO weekend. We know that many of you volunteer for multiple shifts and different roles and we cannot thank you enough for your service to support HOTO. There are many moving parts to a regatta, both on and off the water, and we ask that all volunteers be prepared to be flexible and open to changing roles as needed on the regatta weekend.

Please plan to arrive at the Volunteer Check-In Tent on Washington’s Landing 10-minutes before the start of your shift. If weather permits, please plan to wear your HOTO Volunteer shirt throughout your shift (over long sleeves if necessary). If conditions require a jacket then please wear the shirt underneath the jacket.

Parking will be available on Washington’s Landing for volunteers on a first come-first served basis each day. We will not be charging volunteers for island parking this year so please be mindful of your fellow volunteers and only use the island parking for your specific shift. The Shuttle Bus will begin running from the parking lot at 11th & Smallman beginning at 5am.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out before race weekend. We will be happy to answer any questions and address everything we can in advance of the weekend.

Thank you again for volunteering and your continued support of TRRA!


Matt Logue

Executive Director



Volunteers working at the Award tent will be responsible for recording and handing out medals, and allowing teams to take pictures with the trophies (if there is a trophy for that event).

The Chief Referee or Regatta Director will notify the Award tent when races are deemed official and provide the volunteers with the order of finish for each race.

Skills Needed:

  • Friendly personality

  • Organized - systems oriented

  • Ability to work in a team environment.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Only the Chief Referee and Regatta Director can make the race result official.

  • Coaches and parents may try to get their medal early so be prepared to tell them no - not until the race is official.

  • When handing out medals, please make sure you write down the name of the person you are handing them to and the team they are from.



Volunteers in this role will assist with cleaning up the grounds around the boathouses including, but not limited to, the dock area, parking lots, Tent City, and street/vendor areas once racing is complete each day.

Zero Waste PA will be on site all weekend to help with garbage disposal and there will be various dumpsters for both garbage and recycling on the island.

Skills Needed:

  • Ability to lift and sort items.

  • Recommend bringing your own pair of gloves (yard gloves).

  • Ability to work in a team environment.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Bad weather (rain, wind, etc.) will have an impact on this role. Work needs to be done regardless of weather conditions.

  • We will have golf carts and plenty of garbage bags to help with the transportation of clean-up materials.



Volunteers in these roles will have similar responsibilities at opposite ends of the race course. These roles are essential to ensure fair racing for all competitors. Volunteers will be working with USRowing Referees in these locations. These areas can get hectic at times and it is therefore imperative that all volunteers working these areas possess a high level of situational awareness and an ability to remain focused under pressure.

We utilize two timing systems for HOTO: An electronic primary system and a written backup system. Training will be provided on each system prior to the race.

Skills Needed:

  • High degree of situational awareness.

  • Very task-oriented with a high ability to focus in fast-paced situations

  • High degree of comfort and skill using iPads and tablets.

  • Legible handwriting.

  • Ability to work in a team environment and communicate both effectively and efficiently.

  • Good Eyesight and the ability to identify teams are preferred.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • The Referees run these stations. There are set procedures and protocols they will be following that they will teach you on race day. Each Ref has their own process for these stations so please be adaptable.

  • Sometimes multiple crews will pass the starting line and/or finish line in quick succession. Be prepared to receive and record a lot of information in a short period of time on both the primary and secondary timing systems.

  • If you have a pair of binoculars, please bring them. One of the roles may be as a “Spotter” to help identify the bow and/or back number of approaching crews and binoculars would be helpful in this role.



This role is a “catch-all” role and will require a great deal of flexibility and adaptability on race weekend. If you signed up for this role please take the time to read through the descriptions of all the roles in this handbook as there is the chance you may find yourself stationed anywhere!

Skills Needed:

  • Positive Attitude

  • Adaptable mindset.

  • Sense of adventure.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Though seemingly non-specific, this role is critically important. Many of our volunteers wear multiple hats (racer, volunteer, parent, etc.) on race weekend. It is not uncommon for someone to be running late from a race, get slightly delayed while watching their kid race or get stuck on the shuttle bus.

  • This role helps fill the gaps when necessary and ensures both land and water operations run smoothly throughout the course of the weekend.



These roles are very similar and are essential for ensuring the efficiency of all launching and landing operations. Volunteers in these roles will guide and assist coaches and crews with launching/landing their boats, assist with the pre-launch safety inspections and other various tasks.

Skills Needed:

  • Friendly demeanor

  • Authoritative voice

  • Clear understanding of who can, and cannot be in the launching/landing area.

  • Ability to communicate effectively and work in a team environment.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • There will be a USRowing Referee who will be in charge of the Launch dock. Those volunteering on the Launch Dock will work with the Referee to ensure safe and efficient launch procedures.

  • Only athletes and coaches should be in the launch/recovery area. This includes the lower boatyard and on the docks themselves. It is not uncommon for parents to try and get on the dock or stand on the ramps. We must keep the entire Launch & Recovery area clear so be prepared to kindly (and assertively) ask people to leave the area.

  • People may snap back at you. If you encounter an aggressive parent, coach or athlete, step back and find a race official or the Regatta Director (Matt Logue).



In the interest of full transparency, the Parking Volunteer is one of the most difficult jobs at every regatta. Everyone has a reason for wanting to park on the island and no one likes being told no. We have hired multiple Pittsburgh Police Officers to support and assist the parking volunteers and ensure that both regatta and non-regatta traffic operate as smoothly as possible.

We have multiple stations for Parking Volunteers and everyone will work as a team to ensure all cars end up where they are supposed to.

A detailed map of all parking lots and a list of who can enter the island will be provided prior to the weekend.

Skills Needed:

  • Friendly demeanor.

  • Ability to stand up to people who will disagree with you.

  • Strong communication skills.

  • Clear understanding of who can and cannot come on the island and where to direct them to.

    • There will be a detailed map and set of instructions distributed closer to the regatta weekend.

  • Ability to work as part of a team.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Please know that we, as regatta organizers, know that Parking is one of the most difficult roles at the regatta. We greatly appreciate the sacrifice of sanity you may incur during your shift.

  • If anyone is overly aggressive or disrespectful, make sure the Police and the Regatta Director are aware. If there are any identifying features that indicate which team the aggressive/disrespectful individual(s) are from, please share that with the Regatta Director.

  • Residents of Washington’s Landing, including boat owners who dock at Washington’s Landing Marina and customers of RedFin Blues are allowed to access the island during racing.

  • We will have more detailed information about lot location and drop-off zones, including a map closer to regatta weekend.



This role is responsible for calling crews to the dock prior to their race and providing updates and sponsor announcements throughout the course of the regatta. The Regatta Announcer will be located on Waterfront Drive in front of the TRRA Lambert Boathouse. Talking points and a race schedule will be provided on the day of the race.

Skills Needed:

  • Excellent communicator.

  • Ability to follow a schedule and make timely announcements.

  • Must be organized and able to follow a script.

  • Ability to adjust to changes on the fly and communicate them clearly.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • This role will work closely with the Chief Referee and Regatta Director.

  • This role will be calling crews to the water at set intervals based on the race time and those intervals and/or race times could change throughout the day. Adjustments to the intervals may be required on short notice.



This role is critical to the on-water operations of the regatta. To ensure all boats are safe and racing is fair, Safety Launches are positioned throughout the entire course. This includes, and is not limited to, the warm-up area, the race course itself, and the Back Channel. Some of the Safety Launches will have USRowing Officials, others will be Race Marshalls. Each launch is responsible for ensuring safe and fair racing throughout the duration of the regatta.

Skills Needed:

  • Familiarity and comfort operating a launch on the river.

  • Rowing experience recommended but not required.

  • Ability to assist with a water rescue if needed.

  • Ability to communicate clearly via radio or cell phone in the event of an emergency.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • Once you launch at the start of the day, you will remain on the water for the duration of the race unless there is a scheduled break or an emergency.

  • Lunch and snacks are provided.

  • Potential responsibilities include:

    • Start Area Marshall: Putting crews in numeric order as they arrive at the starting area and/or ensuring safe operation of crews in the warm-up area.

    • Official Boat: You will be partnered with a USRowing Official and will be responsible for ensuring safe and fair racing. For head races, the launches remain “static” during racing unless there is an emergency.

    • Escort Launch: Responsible for safely and slowly escorting recreational boaters and jet skis through the race if they need to traverse the Allegheny River.

    • Finish Area Marshall: Ensuring crews are safe after crossing the finish line and are able to safely turn back upstream and return to the landing dock.

    • Channel Marshall: Ensuring safe and efficient on-water operations in the Back Channel.

  • If you have no launch driving experience, we are happy to teach you in the days prior to the regatta.



This role will be responsible for checking in all volunteers, handing out the volunteer t-shirts, and confirming each volunteer's role during the regatta.

Skills Needed:

  • Friendly and engaging personality

  • Clear communicator

  • Ability to make adjustments on the fly.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • Volunteers in this role will be working closely with Donna Bour, our event coordinator, and the Regatta Director.

  • Know that we might not have the exact size shirt for every volunteer and work with them to ensure they get as close to the correct size as possible.

  • Keep track of all no-shows or last-minute cancellations as well as any changes in locations of volunteers throughout their shift.

351 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page