SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -The first ever Sarasota Coastal Rowing Regatta will take place Saturday on South Lido.
Coastal rowing is different than traditional rowing. Athletes start in a foot sprint from the beach to their boat. They use their boat in the water to go around buoys. After completing the course, the race ends by an athlete running on the beach through the finish line.
“Instead of having boats go down straight lanes, they get to go around buoys like a sailing regatta. And going around those buoys they’re allowed to crash into each other. And we often see crashes and it’s quite exciting to watch," said John Wik, who is the Director of Coastal Rowing for The USRowing Federation.
Wik said it’s no coincidence that this event in happening in Sarasota County. The Suncoast has hosted many prestigious rowing championships at Nathan Benderson Park, which put this location on the map. Because of this, USRowing is trying to grow the sport of coastal rowing here on the Suncoast. Wik said coastal rowing could become an Olympic sport, so they need to start grooming athletes that could possibly be part of an Olympic team.
“We’re looking at the development of that team, beginning here in Sarasota with this junior event. But then moving on across the country. What we need to recognize is that the United States is behind the rest of the world in coastal rowing. We virtually have had three races in the United States this year. This being the largest and the last of them," Wik said.
If coastal rowing does become an Olympic sport, it would not be a full sport in the Olympics until the 2028 games. This means they are looking to develop middle school and high school aged athletes.
The Sarasota Coastal Rowing Regatta will start at 10 a.m. with the masters event. The juniors event will start at noon. It is free to watch from the beach.
More information about the event can be found here.