Admiral of the Fleet (Volunteer Spotlight)

BERNIE BERGENER ~ Atlanta Rowing Club & Admiral of the Fleet

Bernie needs over 100 Launch Driver Volunteers!

Bernie needs over 100 Launch Driver Volunteers!


Bernie Bergener (photo right) – the Admiral of the Fleet – is responsible for all launches and their operators both on and off the water all through the regatta. He has truly earned the title of Admiral of the Fleet for the Hooch Navy, anyway. But he can tell the story better himself:

Swiss heritage

I’m proud to be the only Swiss Admiral – thanks to a bunch of so-called friends…

I raced and helped (some) when the Hooch was still on the Hooch in Atlanta.  Gradually, I gradually got more involved with running the regatta. After the Hooch moved to Chattanooga, Nils Thompson (photo left), our operations director – who felt that younger legs could better deal with old boats (and characters of all ages) – twisted my arms long enough, and threw in promises of  a big title, sunny days and free lunches, that I accepted the role of Admiral of the Fleet.  It sounded great to my kids, but  my wife was slightly more guarded – she knows the regatta too well – so celebrations of my promotion were short and I’ve been working for Nils ever since.

A big job

As it turned out, the job IS a lot of fun, and it is very rewarding to be a part of such a dedicated team of volunteers doing their best to run a wonderful regatta.  We provide some 35 launches (and/or real boats) and almost 100 drivers over the long weekend, mainly to chauffeur the regatta referees who have to make sure that the racing is safe and fair.  It’s a big job and we couldn’t do it without the our dedicated drivers – many coming back every year – as well as the support from our local rowing clubs in Chattanooga and Atlanta plus the generous individuals who let us use their watercrafts – many thanks to all of you!

I need you!

Preparations start weeks before the regatta, and I’ve been seen more than once, on the day of the regatta, selling the joys and pleasures of being out on the water in the middle of the races to unsuspecting parents, friends and family, all to recruit drivers to fill still-open slots.  (BTW, there are still slots open for this year, so if you’ve driven a boat before and have the compassion to help slow the pace of my aging, please feel free to go to our website and sign up for a session of launch driving on Saturday or on Sunday (hint, hint..)