After the MLB All-Star Game festivities come to a close, another national athletic showcase will come to the Cincinnati area.
The 2015 USRowing Club National Championships kick off July 15 at Harsha Lake in Clermont County. The four-day event at East Fork State Park will be a boon to the local economy and provide a showcase for local and national crew teams.
“An event like this benefits our local rowing community in a couple really important ways,” said Clermont Crew head coach Paul Schmid. “First, bidding for this event has catalyzed strong community support for the infrastructure at Harsha Lake and East Fork State Park—support that will help keep the venue in top condition for all users, all year. Second, having USRowing back here in Clermont County is so important. We get a chance to reconnect with the national rowing community, and seeing the outstanding athletes from across the nation really inspires our athletes to strive for their very best.”
More than 100 different clubs will compete at nationals, including seven local squads. Clermont Crew, Cincinnati Rowing Club, Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club, Dayton Boat Club, Greater Dayton Rowing Association, Row America in Hamilton, Queen City Water Sports Center, and the University of Cincinnati will all be represented. Competitors from under-17 to men’s and women’s elite rowers will battle on the water.
“This is a very important race. It is sort of a summer proving ground for both intermediate and advanced rowers,” said Schmid. “It gives some very strong and large clubs a chance to go head-to-head with their best and it is an important springboard for national-caliber athletes with the internationals and perhaps even Rio in their sights.”
The week is about more than just racing. On Sunday, July 19, rising high school seniors can attend a college fair to learn more about the opportunities and qualifications to row at the next level. More than 50 colleges will attend.
The regatta is a showcase for Harsha Lake, East Fork State Park and Clermont County. Area hotels are booked up, and restaurants and retail stores expect a major boost. Leila Spriggs, Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau events director, estimates that there will be a $2 million boost to the local economy, thanks to the regatta.
“It puts Harsha Lake back on the national radar for the place to go to compete. We have good water, nice amenities, and friendly folks,” said Spriggs. “We hope it will attract rowing clubs and organizations looking for a venue to host their own regattas where they can mount a turnkey event. Locally, it brings in outside dollars to businesses and their employees and tax revenue into the pocket of the state.”
Since the lake was developed, it has proven to be a great venue for rowing. It hosted the USRowing Youth National Championships from 1995 to 2010 and the National Collegiate Rowing Championships from 1983 to 1996. The water is still, the wind is minimal, and spectators have a clear view of the finish line. The refurbished beach will be the prime viewing spot for spectators to watch exciting finishes throughout the week. The hosts are very excited to welcome their guests from all over the country and show them how much better the lake and its surroundings look this year.
“Teams have been coming here for decades to enjoy our lake,” said Spriggs, “but in recent years, due to flooding mostly, our venue had been looking a little tired.”
Spriggs’s office, the State of Ohio, and the local community contributed and raised funds to facilitate brand news restrooms and beach house, a seven-lane race course, new docks specifically designed for rowing, and eight wakeless launches. There are also added amenities for boat storage and fiberoptic internet access this year. The national championship should be an exciting week of racing as well as a showcase for Clermont County tourism.
“All because we landed this race,” said Spriggs, “and now, because we have all this cool stuff, we will be attracting more regattas to the area.”