1200 boats, 1500 rowers.  Four days of racing in Grand Rapids on the Grand River.  That’s what happened here this past weekend in the USRowing Masters National Championships.  What a sight!20140816_114922Having been gone for the past week, the fact that this interesting event was being held in our city over the weekend escaped our notice.  What a screwup it would have been to have missed this fabulous scene. 20140817_135947 Colorful, sleek racing shells with one, two, four, or eight rowers.  Superfit men and women of all ages from all over the US and Canada, all with shoulders indicating serious dedication to training.  Approximately 140 clubs were represented.20140817_14265220140817_13472520140817_142911Interesting fact:  The Detroit Rowing Club is the oldest rowing club in the US, having been established 175 years ago!  Go, Motown!

I won’t try to explain this racing to you, since nearly all my knowledge comes from the book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  If you have a speck of interest in this topic at all, this is a fascinating book.  I’m a big fan of the genre of epic struggles, and this was right up my alley.

We caught a glimpse of the action on Saturday, as we passed by the area on our bikes.  John and I rode back on Sunday morning to hang out and catch a bit more of the racing.  It appears that a USRowing Master is anyone over the age of 27.  We watched one race where the participants were 75-80 and 80+.  Amazing.  Some of the tropies looked as though they had been changing hands for years.20140817_14325120140817_143225There were classifications by number of rowers, age, and weight.  There are teams with coxswains (either fore or aft), and teams without.  Altogether, there were dozens of races – qualifications and final heats being started every four minutes over a couple of days!  It as a super-impressive organizational feat.

The Beer City Regatta seemed to be a huge success.  Good weather, facilities, and great beer contributed to the big smiles we saw.  Here are a few more random shots – sure wished I had a big camera with a long lens!20140817_125949This wooden shell was the only one of its type that we saw, and it was a beauty!  It got admiring glances and caresses from all.20140817_125534Check out the kid reading the Harry Potter book – oblivious to all the commotion going on around him at the table where paddles were being ordered.20140817_125911Saw this object abandoned in a bush as we were leaving the Park.20140817_143400And, guess who else is in town this month?  Story Corps!20140817_122947