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11 Aug 2014 11:04 PM | Deleted user

West Michigan Sports Commission and Grand Rapids Rowing Association Host First National Rowing Event in Michigan, with Rowing Watch Party and “Beer Regatta” in Riverside Park

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 11, 2014 – With a title like “Beer City USA,” it’s no surprise that Grand Rapids has a thriving craft beer culture. But many may not realize the city also has world-class rowing along the Grand River. These two Grand Rapids attributes will come together Aug. 14-17 for the 2014 USRowing Masters National Championships at Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave. NE in Grand Rapids.

“This is going to be a fun spectator event, especially if you’ve never witnessed a rowing regatta,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) who is co-hosting the event with the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. “We decided to pair a few of Grand Rapids’ most notable features – water and brews – to give viewers a great experience of watching national rowers along the Grand River while enjoying a craft beer garden at Riverside Park.”

Drawing approximately 1,500 rowers, 1,200 boats, 5,000 spectators and more than 140 national rowing clubs competing in 200 events, the Masters National Championships is hosted annually by USRowing (nonprofit governing body for rowing in the United States) as its largest national event, featuring competitors over the age of 21. The 2013 regatta in Sarasota, Fla., attracted 6,000 spectators over four days and generated an economic impact of $1.5 million. This year’s event has exceeded 2013 rowing participants and brings an estimated economic impact of $2 million to the region.

“It is an incredible honor to host the first national rowing event in Michigan, let alone Grand Rapids,” said Landon Bartley, president of the Grand Rapids Rowing Association and local regatta director. “And it will be a sight to behold, with hundreds of boats, thousands of people, and high-intensity rowing right in front of you.”

The rowing competition consists of 50 rowing events daily over four days of competition along a 1,000-meter, six-lane river course that begins in the middle of Riverside Park near Guild Street and ends at the south end of Riverside Park near Knapp Street. Heats run approximately three to four minutes long and take place in the morning, with medaling races in the afternoon. Rowing starts at 8 a.m. daily.

Visitor Information and Parking

The regatta is free to watch, with designated viewing areas set up in Riverside Park, complete with large-screen monitors to show inaccessible parts of the course. The park will include a hospitality tent with tables and chairs plus a large screen to view the action, a grandstand for high views, plus an adjacent beer garden. A Vendor Village will feature local and national rowing merchandise plus a variety of food options, including Taco's El Cunado from Downtown Market, Madcap Coffee, Tiki Island Smoothies, Tim Hortons and Grand Rapids Junior Rowing Boosters, who will sell food and merchandise.

Wednesday, Aug. 13 is a practice day from 1 to 5 p.m., and race days run Thursday, Aug. 14 through Saturday, Aug. 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m.

Free shuttles to the north end of Riverside Park begin running Aug. 13 from nine designated parking lots in downtown Grand Rapids. The shuttle schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Aug. 13 – Course Practice Day. Shuttle Hours: 1 – 7 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 14 – Race Day. Shuttle Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15 – Race Day. Shuttle Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 16 – Race Day. Shuttle Hours: 6 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 17 – Race Day. Shuttle Hours: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

“Riverside Park is a fantastic place to watch rowing. I recommend spectators come down for an hour or two to relax and watch the regatta, visit our vendors in the hospitality area, grab a beer and some food, and enjoy the day,” advises Bartley. “You’ll see all manner and size of boats, plus all ages of competitors, from 27 to 90.”

For event and Grand Rapids information, visit Regatta team entries, heat sheets, and club listings can be found at RegattaCentral (

“Beer Regatta USA” at Riverside Park

During the event, visitors can enjoy a “Beer Regatta USA” craft beer garden at Riverside Park adjacent to the hospitality area with 10 kinds of local craft beer on tap (including a custom beer made for this event) from five breweries each day. A brewery also will be featured daily (including practice day), with staff from that brewery on hand to answer questions. Brewers’ hours are 2 to 6 p.m. on the Wednesday practice day, and 12 to 3 p.m. daily for the race days.

As a special feature, Gravel Bottom Brewery in Ada will brew a light American Pale Ale custom beer called Different Strokes: A Lawn Rower Beer, specifically for the regatta that can be sampled only at this event. Non- alcoholic beverages also will be available.

Beer Regatta hours and daily featured brewers are as follows:

Weds., Aug. 13, 2 - 6 p.m. – Founders
Thursday, Aug. 14, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. – Schmohz Brewery
Friday, Aug. 15, 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. – Brewery Vivant
Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. – New Holland Brewing
Sunday, Aug. 17, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. – Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply

Volunteers Still Needed for Event

Volunteers are needed daily from Thursday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 17, to help with all aspects of the event. Individuals will receive lunch during their shift and a tee-shirt, and they are invited to attend the Rowers’ Reception Friday evening. For volunteer information and to register for a shift, visit

About the West Michigan Sports Commission

The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), identifies, secures and hosts a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to positively impact the region’s economy and quality of life. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 370 sporting events and tournaments attracting 540,000 athletes and visitors, generating more than $175 million in direct visitor spending. Visit for more information.

About the Grand Rapids Rowing Association

Rowing in Grand Rapids has a long and storied history, with records of rowing on the Grand River dating back to as early as the 1890s. The Grand Rapids Rowing Association (GRRA) was incorporated in 1986 to organize rowing in the areas and runs high school, corporate and adult recreational and competitive rowing programs, as well as the popular Learn to Row classes. It also hosts several rowing regattas each year. Visit for more information.

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