Thank goodness the weather is FINALLY getting warmer. Those of us who hide away from the cold are peeking our heads out like groundhogs to welcome the sun. Outdoor sports and activities begin to make the city buzz with life, and at its hub is Lake Quinsigamond, which will be the center of regatta competitions.
A regatta is a series of boat races where teams show off their skills in rowing after months of training. Rowing made its way to the United States mid-century. An intercollegiate race challenge was issued by Yale to Harvard back in 1852, and so the tie-in to college sports began.
Nearly 4-miles long and narrow, Lake Quinsigamond has played host to regattas since the mid 1800s and is ideal for rowing. The lake even hosted the National Olympic rowing trials in 1952.
The spring regatta consists of various races, including the New England Rowing Championships (NERC) held on April 30th. Though there are many events across the country at the collegiate level, Lake Quinsigamond will be the canvas for two of the largest races. Hosted by the Intercollegiate Rowing Association, these include the Men’s and Women’s Eastern Sprints.
The Women’s Sprints will be on Sunday May 1st and the Men’s Sprints will take place on Sunday, May 15th. The races hold both morning and afternoon heats for the different categories. The winners of those heats then take place in the final to determine the ultimate winner.
Schools need to apply to be represented at these races and must be organization members of USRowing and the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC). Massachusetts teams include Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and our own Holy Cross.
Holy Cross was ranked #20 in the nation in the latest IRA poll to open the season and in March, the men’s team won all four races at the Jesuit Invitational. The women’s team placed second in the varsity eight B final and first in the second varsity eight B final. The varsity four also took first in the C final.
Last month, the men’s team competed in the Occoquan Invitational in Virginia, where the team placed first in the varsity eight, first in the second varsity eight and fourth in the third varsity eight, taking fourth in the final.
Throughout the spring and summer, other teams, including Assumption, Worcester Polytechnic, Clark, Worcester Academy, Shrewsbury, St. John’s, and St. Mark’s, compete in a number of races hosted by the Quinsigamond Rowing Association (QRA).
Local teams are looking really good this year too. The WPI men’s varsity eight recently came in third in the Donahue Cup and the women’s team took first in their final. Clark’s women’s varsity eight broke their program record time twice in the races on April 10th.
The college rowing teams will compete in the National Invitational Collegiate Championship on Sunday, May 8th and high school rowing teams can compete in the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association (NEIRA) competition held on May 28th.
So, don’t be surprised when you see a fleet of boats on the lake with lots of spectators cheering for their favorite rowing teams. Even better, park your car and join them as the scene is a sight to behold.
For rowing team schedules, you can check their respective school athletics websites. To see a list of all regattas being held on Lake Quinsigamond, you can visit www.qra.org and for a full list of regattas in the United States, you can head to www.regattacentral.com.