The GVSU team and several other teams from across the country return this weekend for the biggest collegiate rowing event to date.
The 21st annual Lubbers Cup kicks off Friday afternoon with a public learn-to-row event. Eleven women’s teams and 10 men’s teams from 15 universities will race from 9 a.m. until about 6 p.m. Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon Sunday.
There are more college teams for this year’s races because the local high schools are on spring break, so there is no high school competition.
GVSU head coach John Bancheri said he’s aware of the cold weather forecast, but he said the races will go on as scheduled.
“We will have weather, weather or not,” he said. “It looks like Lubbers Cup.”
A heated spectator tent will be located at the Spring Lake Yacht Club, where Lubbers Cup apparel and food will be available for purchase.
Spectators will need to either walk in or ride a shuttle bus from parking areas set up for the event at Johnston Boiler at the three-way stop in Ferrysburg, or at Keenan Marina just a short distance down West Spring Lake Road.
The yacht club’s driveway is just before the Harbor Point subdivision, a little more than a mile from the three-way stop in Ferrysburg.
Public viewing areas also include Smith’s Bridge on West Spring Lake Road in Ferrysburg, the north end of Buchanan Street in the Village of Spring Lake, and the Spring Lake public beach on Beach Drive between Fruitport Road and Lake Street.
Universities sending both men’s and women’s teams to the event include GVSU, Cincinnati, DePaul, Illinois, Marquette and Purdue. Sending men’s teams only are Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Notre Dame. Sending women’s teams only are Case Western, Dayton, Eastern Michigan, Drake and Robert Morris.
Bancheri said Grand Valley lost a lot of rowers from last year’s American Collegiate Rowing Association (club) national champion rowing team, but this year’s women have shown a lot of improvement.
The men’s team is also smaller, but Bancheri cited last year when the guys closed to within a second of the University of Michigan’s varsity-8 team.
“They’re the top club in the country,” Bancheri said of the U-M team. “But, any given day, you can have the best race and perhaps knock them off.”
New to the competition this year is Minnesota, one of the top men’s club teams in the nation; and Dayton, a Division 1 varsity women’s team.
The men and women at GVSU are club teams, so they basically have to pay to play, Bancheri said.
“And rowing is a very hard sport,” he said. “You have to be very motivated and academically inclined.”
Grand Valley rowers are coming off their first competition last weekend, the Occoquan Invitational in Washington, D.C.
Michigan, Illinois, Notre Dame and Purdue were at a competition in San Diego.
Bancheri said he’s excited about this weekend’s event, including the involvement and support of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg. And he hopes people will come out and cheer on the teams despite the cold.
Spring Lake lakefront homeowners can support the teams by raising one of the team flags along the lake. Flags should be registered at the Lubbers Cup Regatta website at https://lubberscup.com/flags/.
People are also encouraged to show team spirit with their apparel at the Grub and Brew Fest, which takes place Saturday night at Old Boys Brewhouse in Spring Lake. This event is open to the public.
More information on the regatta and these events can be found at the Lubbers Cup Regatta website at https://lubberscup.com.
Friday and Saturday will be no picnic, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Walt Felver.
“Wear your parka,” he said.
Felver said a mix of rain and snow is in the forecast for the Spring Lake area on Friday, with a high of 37. The high predicted for Saturday is 33, but winds will be out of the northwest at 15-20 mph and the wind chill could be in the lower 20s. Temperatures are expected to be a little higher on Sunday, topping out at 45, but it will still be breezy.
The Spring Lake water temperature is about 40 degrees this time of year, Felver said.