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Inaugural regatta to host youth, collegiate rowing competitions
Youth, club and college rowing teams have an opportunity to compete March 26-27 in the inaugural John Ferriss Lanier Sprints Regatta hosted at Lake Lanier Olympic Park. - courtesy Sean Williams

The Lake Lanier Rowing Club is giving young rowers the chance to get their feet wet with the inaugural John Ferriss Lanier Sprints Regatta. Registration for the March 26-27 boat race is open to all youth, club, and college rowing teams on the Regatta Central website

The races will take place at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park on a buoyed, seven-lane course. The schedule and other details such as race formats are still subject to change, but families can expect collegiate racing on Saturday, March 26, and youth racing on Sunday, March 27, both starting around 8:30 a.m. and wrapping up by 5:30 p.m.

“The schedule is tentative right now until we get the entries, and we know how many boats will be in each event,” Ferriss said. 

The John Ferriss Regatta is distinguished from previous races by a partnership with the city of Gainesville, who owns the course and is aiding in marketing. The site of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games rowing and sprint canoe and kayaking events, Lake Lanier Olympic Park has been the host of regional, national and international competitions including the Champion International Collegiate Rowing Regatta, ACRA and NCAA Women’s National Championships, posing what event organizers consider the perfect place for young competitors to unfurl their sails and get competitive experience. 

Participation fees are capped at $2,000 per club. Teams of eight can expect to pay $110; fours and quads are $95. The races are free for the public to attend, though there is a fee for on-site parking. 

Ferriss describes regattas as a thrilling event for those who have a loved one in the competition, but citizens may also find it to be a unique chance to socialize with friends and community members. The club will be following state guidelines in regard to COVID-19. 

“You want to come with someone who you enjoy being with, sit outside, enjoy the sun, and enjoy the conversation,” Ferriss said. “It’s pretty exciting with the youth groups, high schools and clubs, and colleges all being there.”  

The sport challenges rowers to work effectively as a team as they race others through the water. Competitors traverse their way around various buoys in a lap format, and the team that finishes the fastest earns the most points.

Both Ferriss and co-director Cliff Ward have extensive experience in the sport and have played key roles in local regattas of the past. Having gone several years with no races, the group hopes to make the John Ferriss Lanier Sprints Regatta an annual event that keeps the community engaged in the sport.

“We have lots of manpower, a long history hosting regatta,” Ward said. “This is nothing new for us.”

For additional details and updates, visit

This article was originally posted by the Gainesville Times, a sister publication to Forsyth County News.