Iron OARS

Regatta an event for all ages

Members of the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club head for shore after completing an almost 2-mile race across Teal Lake for the 13th annual Iron Oars Regatta on Sunday. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

NEGAUNEE — Rowers of all ages gathered on the shore of Teal Lake Sunday morning to compete in the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club’s 13th annual Iron Oars Regatta.

The race, which begins at the west end of Teal Lake near the Al Quaal Recreation Area and ends on the west side near Lakeview Elementary School, is a distance of about two miles and takes a seasoned rower around 15 minutes to complete.

Competitors included youth ages 14 to 18, adults ages 18 to 72, and the Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech University rowing teams. Racers competed individually, in doubles, in teams of four and teams of eight, with the MTU men’s varsity team of eight rowers achieving the fastest time of the day at 10 minutes, 30 seconds.

For collegiate rowers, the Iron Oars Regatta gets them into the mindset for the rowing season that lies just ahead, but for members of the UPCRC, the regatta is the culmination of a year’s training, said Gail Brayden, chairwoman and charter member of the UPCRC.

“A person needs to be willing to work as a team. That extends into dismantling and hauling equipment … It’s a team effort. You can excel in this sport, there’s no question about that, but it’s often in the context of the team,” Brayden said.

Michigan Tech University’s rowing team loads its boat back onto a trailer after competing in the regatta. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

Brayden also noted the discipline necessary for the sport. Rowers must be able to keep their eyes and minds on the boat when racing, not only for safety, but out of respect for the sport and one’s team. These skills practiced when rowing build lifelong friendships, she said.

“I’ve been in a race with other people in the boat and at the end of the race I just feel like I love these people. It brings out that kind of a feeling, because you work so hard toward a common goal that you have this feeling of closeness and attachment for the people,” Brayden said.

But for Brayden, the best part of rowing is getting to “enjoy the beautiful natural water we have in the Upper Peninsula.”

In the summer, rowers spend their days practicing on Lake Superior, and in the winter, training continues on rowing machines in the UPCRC clubhouse located at Founders Landing in the city of Marquette.

The UPCRC requires an annual membership of $200 for adults and $120 for youths. A scholarship program is available for those interested in racing.

The club also hosts eight-week Learn to Row workshops in June and July for youth and adults, as well as general information meetings.

For more information, visit uprowing.com.