Delta Gamma sorority and Theta Chi fraternity will be hosting the first Richmond Regatta on Westhampton Lake as an event during Family Weekend at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27.

The Regatta will feature boat races across the width of the lake in single-person kayaks provided by the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, said Chris Silvey, the philanthropy chair for Theta Chi. There will be two races, a straight sprint and a relay, Silvey said. The sprint will have individual heats across the lake and back, and the relay will be a team event with members switching in and out of the boat for four laps, he said.

During the races, the two Greek organizations will also be raffling off prizes, said Jen Darsie, vice president foundation for Delta Gamma. Raffle tickets will be sold at the event and ticketholders will be able to choose which raffles to enter, Darsie said. Prizes will include ties from Vineyard Vines, a family membership to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and various gift certificates to Mosaic, Cafe Caturra and Riverside Outfitters.

Anyone is welcome to participate in the races, Darsie said. Members of Delta Gamma and Theta Chi will be registering people at a table in Tyler Hanes Commons Tuesday through Thursday, she said. Registration will be $20 to participate in the individual race, $30 to participate in the relay race or $40 to participate in both, she said. There will also be "celebrity" participants, members from the university faculty and staff, participating in the races, Darsie said.

All proceeds and donations will be split between the two Greek organizations' respective charities, Darsie said. Delta Gamma represents Service for Sight, an organization that aids children and veterans who have suffered vision loss. Theta Chi represents the United Service Organizations, an organization that provides programs and services to U.S. troops and their families.

The event will be monitored by campus EMTs and campus police, as well as lifeguards, to ensure the safety of participants, Darsie said. Participants will also be required to sign safety waivers and wear life vests, she said. Members of the Greek organizations will have a short training session before the kayak races to help instruct participants as well, she said.

The idea originated when Darsie approached Alison Bartel Keller, director of student activities, hoping for a new and interesting idea for an event, Darsie said. Keller suggested an event on the lake.

Keller was inspired by the past when she suggested an event on the lake, Darsie said. Canoe races used to be a prevalent event for fraternities at the university in the 1980s. Even before then, the lake was used much more for recreation than it is now. Students used to swim, fish and boat on the lake and, when it froze over, even ice skate, according to articles in the University Archives. Over the years, though, the water quality of the lake has dropped, and students were urged not to go into the water anymore.

But with the water deemed safe enough to use for the Regatta, Darsie said members of the hosting organizations were excited. "We wanted to host an event that would be appealing to a wider audience," Darsie said. "Going in the lake is one of those bucket-list desires that every student secretly wants to do before they graduate."

Contact reporter Mia Webber at mia.webber@richmond.edu