A showcase of endurance

Becky Vargo • Apr 1, 2017 at 9:00 AM

A combination of varsity and club rowing teams will descend on Spring Lake for the 22nd annual Lubbers Cup Regatta next weekend —snow, rain or shine.

“There will be weather, whether or not,” said Grand Valley State University head coach John Bancheri for his usual prediction. 

GVSU men and women are hosting the event, which starts early Saturday morning, April 8, at the Spring Lake Yacht Club in Ferrysburg. Racing begins at 9 a.m. and runs through late afternoon.

Racers will get back on the water at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, April 9, and finish later that morning. 

An awards ceremony will be held at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the yacht club.

More than 500 athletes from 11 Midwestern colleges — including several Big 10 universities — will participate in the two-day event featuring varsity and novice races.

Competing on the men’s side will be GVSU, Case Western (Cleveland, Ohio), Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue. Women’s teams include GVSU, Case Western, Drake (Des Moines, Iowa), Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Marquette (Milwaukee), Ohio State and Purdue.

Notre Dame and Dayton are missing from last year’s competition, but Ohio State is back for the first time in three years, Bancheri said.

“They hired Mark Williams, a very good coach from Canada,” the GVSU coach said of OSU. “They are progressing nicely. I expect they’ll be very competitive.”

The Michigan men will be the team to beat this year, Bancheri said.

“Michigan had a very good fall season,” he noted. “I know they have good talent and good coaching. Purdue is another one that is consistently fast and well coached.”

The Eastern Michigan women have consistently improved, too, he added.

Grand Valley lost a lot of talent to graduation and the total team number is down to 54 kids.

“We usually have 70-75,” Bancheri said.

Still, he believes their top-end boats will be fast.

The GVSU men have more depth with a decent group of seniors, Bancheri said. 

“Our power isn’t quite where it has been, in large part because we don’t have one or two standouts,” he said. “We have more people at a higher level, rather than a couple at a really high level. This group rows beautifully and they’re technically as good as any team I’ve ever coached. The capability is there.”

During GVSU’s spring break, the men scrimmaged with Georgetown, which is a Division 1 varsity team. GVSU is a club team.

“We hung in there,” Bancheri said. “They raced Virginia two days later and beat Virginia more than they beat us. We’re going to be competitive.”

The event will be run as a Double Dual 2- and 3-lane race, with outside open lanes for added crews and/or B boats. Double dual means that each team will race against all other competitors at least once.

The public is invited to attend the regatta. Parking is available at Johnston Boiler and Keenan Marina, with Harbor Transit shuttles providing transportation between the parking areas and Spring Lake Yacht Club.

In addition, spectators from anywhere can view a live stream of the races at www.lubberscup.com.

The race can also be viewed at various public access points around the lake. A popular spot to view the crews during their warm-up is Smith’s Bridge on West Spring Lake Road.

The Chamber of Commerce-Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg will have a hospitality tent at the yacht club.

For more information on the event, “like” the Don Lubbers Cup Regatta on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lubberscup.

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