Regatta Brings Rowing to Lansing

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The Lansing Rowing Club has always participated in regattas around the state, but it had never put on a race of its own.

"Our club felt it was time to give back to the rowing community and put on our own regatta," said Mark Alley, a board member of the Lansing Rowing Club. "We love Lansing and we think this stretch of river we're on is fantastic for water sports. We want to make sure we express that to as many people as we can."

Nearly 150 racers participated Saturday at Grand River Park. Alley estimates around 500 people lined the riverbanks.

"It's been perfect weather, great water, it's just been a lot of fun," said Lisa Weise, a competitor and East Lansing native who won the prestigious 2011 Head of the Charles race in Boston. "I'm so excited because this is our first time trying a sprint race like this and we've had a great response."

The Rowing Club says the event is a good way to promote the sport and a good way to promote the City of Lansing as a destination too. Rowers came from across the state. Two teams even came from Ohio.

"These people are going to purchase food; some of them will have lodging needs; they'll eat at restaurants; and they're going to like it so much that we're confident that they're going to come back," Alley said. "It's certainly good for our business community and good for all of Lansing."

Plus, Alley says, the water in the Grand River is ideal for rowing. It's wide enough to comfortably fit boats and is naturally sheltered from wind. The current is slow and there aren't many waves.

"If you compare this body of water for rowing compared to water not only around the state, but around the Midwest, these are ideal conditions for rowing," he said.

The Lansing Rowing Club hopes to continue to build the size of its event each year. Organizers say they are considering adding another regatta in the fall.

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