Quest for the cup

11 clubs vie for Lipton Cup at Lake Elmo regatta

080113_regattaLAKE ELMO — Eleven rowing clubs from the United States and Canada will row, row, row their boats on Lake Elmo Saturday and Sunday in their quest for the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup.

That historic trophy is the prize in the 110th North Western International Rowing Association regatta being held on Lake Elmo in the Lake Elmo Park Reserve for the third time in the championship’s long history.

Regatta secretary Charlie Stockwell said 450 men and women will row an Olympic style 2,000-meter north-south course on Lake Elmo in categories ranging from high school, open and masters.

“They run the full length of the lake from the south end to the north end,” he said.

Stockwell said clubs competing are regatta host the Minneapolis Rowing Club; defending Lipton Cup holder Winnipeg Rowing Club out of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Long Lake Rowing Club from the western suburbs; Lake Owaska Rowing Club from Oregon; Minnesota Boat Club from St. Paul; the Duluth Rowing Club; Rochester, Minn., Rowing Club; Kenora Rowing Club of Kenora, Ontario, Canada; Thunder Bay Rowing Club of Thunder Bay, Ontario and the Saskatoon Rowing Club of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“There are three or four clubs that have a good chance to win the cup,” Stockwell said. “Winnipeg and Minneapolis are the top two contenders. Then it’s probably the Minnesota Boat Club.”

The Winnipeg RC won last year’s NWIR competition to claim the Lipton Cup in Kenora, Stockwell said.

The regatta led Washington County Parks to close the park reserve’s public boat launch on Lake Elmo Friday through Sunday. A temporary sign at the park reserve entrance at County roads 10 and 19 alerts the public to the boat launch closing.
Lake Elmo’s size and location bordering the park reserve on the west side and Lake Elmo Avenue on the east side make it an ideal site for a regatta, according to Stockwell and WCP Parks Manager Mike Polehna.

“They can get a full-length course,” Polehna said. “There were a lot of regattas on Lake Elmo. It’s a well-known regatta lake.”

“We could say that Lake Elmo is one of the lakes that is long enough and wide enough to hold an Olympic-style event,” Stockwell added.

Polehna and Stockwell also said the wooded western side of Lake Elmo in the park reserve serves as a wind break for regatta competitors.

“It’s pretty well protected,” Polehna said about the course.

“That is true because on the western side of lake there’s a lot of trees to block the wind,” Stockwell notes.

Polehna added that benefit for regatta competitors this year is that Lake Elmo’s water level is higher than in 2009, the last time the NWIR was held at the lake. The first NWIR at Lake Elmo was in 1976.

Polehna said the park reserve’s North Picnic Shelter is reserved for the regatta and park staff has mowed a large grass area for parking.

Stockwell said Lake Elmo is one of several Twin Cities sites that have hosted the NWIR. In the 1980s and 1990s, the regatta was held on Lake Phalen in St. Paul. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the competition was on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, he added. And in the late 1800s, Lake Minnetonka was the regatta site, according to Stockwell.
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If You Go

What: 110th North Western International Regatta
Where: On Lake Elmo at Lake Elmo Park Reserve public boat launch.
When: Saturday and Sunday (The Lake Elmo public boat launch closes to the public Friday through Sunday.)
Who: 11 rowing clubs from the United States and the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada
Cost: Free, but vehicles must have a $5 daily county parking or $25 annual parking permit.

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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