Re­gatta set for this week­end

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BYMIKA REKAI

Sound the sil­ver trum­pet. Har­bour Grace is set to host its 149th an­nual re­gatta on Satur­day, July 30at Lady Lake.

Spec­ta­tors can ex­pect to see some dar­ing feats of strength and en­durance as chil­dren, fam­i­lies and ath­letes row their way to glory at what is the sec­ond old­est sport­ing event in North Amer­ica.

While at­ten­dance had been steadily dwin­dling since the mid-90s, in re­cent years the re­gatta has seen some­thing of a re­nais­sance. In 2010, over a dozen new crews com­peted. This year, the re­gatta com­mit­tee has added three more races for a to­tal of 22 races and 28 crews.

Ac­cord­ing to Joanne Tay­lor, a vol­un­teer with the com­mit­tee, the up­swing in par­tic­i­pa­tion started three years ago, when or­ga­niz­ers de­cided to al­low younger chil­dren to par­tic­i­pate.

“Be­fore then, you had to be 12 or 13 to com­pete,” Tay­lor said. “ This year, our youngest par­tic­i­pant is seven. The bulk of the crews are made up of younger kids.”

The young ath­letes have helped in­crease at­ten­dance, too, as proud par­ents and grand­par­ents come to cheer them on.

“Some of our crews have trav­elled on to the re­gat­tas in St. John’s and Por­tu­gal Cove,” Tay­lor noted.

She hopes that row­ing will not be a pass­ing fad for these young­sters, and that they con­tinue to com­pete in the re­gatta into their teens and be­yond.

Part of the ap­peal of row­ing is the low cost of par­tic­i­pa­tion, she ex­plained.

The re­gatta com­mit­tee owns all the boats, and there is no fee to get in­volved in the re­gatta. “It doesn’t cost a cent,” Tay­lor said. While this week­end’s event prom­ises a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties for lo­cals and vis­i­tors, Tay­lor said the vol­un­teers are al­ready look­ing to pro­mote next year’s 150th an­niver­sary.

There’s talk of spread­ing next year’s re­gatta over two week­ends, and in­clud­ing a com­pet­i­tive and “ fun” event with whal­ing boats and per­haps a folk fes­ti­val.

One thing about the 2012 event is cer­tain.

“It’s go­ing to be big­ger,” Tay­lor said.

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