Father’s Day 2018: Spend a Day at the Races with Dad (Updated Post)

As Father’s Day (June 17) approaches this weekend, we’ve revisited our list of great races to head to with your dad this summer, with updated information for 2018.

We may be (just a bit) biased, but in our opinion quality father-child bonding time doesn’t get much better than sharing in the energy and excitement of a day spent watching live competitive rowing. This time of year, the New England region is chock-full of prestigious, well-run events along some truly scenic waterways, not to mention some major annual events taking place a bit farther afield.

Why not enjoy a memorable family day at one of the eight summer regattas we’ve rounded up below? Combine your outing with a special gift for your rowing patriarch: a new boat or erg pad. RowingPad’s dual-density boat pads come in a variety of thicknesses and provide exceptional comfort and stability on the water. Any rower would be delighted to improve his sport with a new one. Or if you’re shopping for a regular erg user, you can’t beat the quality and design of our ErgPads, available in several densities and with or without comfort cutouts.

We’ll even sweeten the deal with free shipping on all purchases. Use the code “RPLTR” at checkout.

1) June 16: The Schuylkill Navy Regatta
Philadelphia, PA

Stroll back in time as you check out the 15 boathouses, all at least a century old and home to the member clubs of the Schuylkill Navy, that make up historic Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River. Though this race is lower profile than some of the other annual fixtures that take place here (see regatta No. 3 on our list), it is rich with America’s rowing heritage and set in Philadelphia’s stunning Fairmount Park.

2) June 29—July 1: The Independence Day Regatta
Philadelphia, PA

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with a trip to the birthplace of the nation—and the birthplace of American rowing? This annual regatta, one of several hosted by the Schuylkill Navy, dates back to the 1880s and figures prominently in the rich history of the sport in the U.S. What was originally called “the People’s Regatta” has grown into a major competition featuring upwards of 1,000 boats and numerous ancillary activities, including a College Expo for rising seniors. Book a nearby hotel and spend a few beautiful summer mornings along the historic Schuylkill River before setting out for more patriotic afternoon adventures around Philadelphia with your own crew.

Image © Royal Henley Regatta

3) July 4—8: Henley Royal Regatta
Henley-on-Thames, UK

Planning a last-minute escape to this most storied of rowing events is not for the unseasoned traveler, but for a milestone celebration or the truly passionate lifelong rower, a trip to England for this annual international regatta can’t be beat. Remember to pack your pinstripes (the dress code remains quite strict) and prepare to soak in all of the wonderfully quaint riverside rowing tradition.

4) July 7: USRowing Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Masters Regional Championships
Lowell, MA

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are some of the most active in the country’s rowing community, so this Masters level championship is sure to feature some excellent racing. The recently renovated Bellegarde Boathouse at UMass Lowell, the home base for the action, is perched right on the Merrimack River in Lowell Heritage State Park—a great setting for a day of spectating, picnicking, and riverside sunsets.

5) July 11 to July 15: USRowing Club National Championships
Camden, NJ

For 2018, this annual championship event returns to the Garden State, to Cooper River Park near Camden (it was held at Harsha Lake in Ohio last year). The steadily growing summer regatta showcases the most talented under 17, under 19, intermediate, senior and elite athletes in the country—a great race to bring your teens to introduce them to Dad’s favorite sport. The venue promises plenty to see and do, especially following a major development project that began in 2014. Expect upgraded roadways around the park, fresh landscaping, bike paths and an amphitheater, a new boat launch, vista decks along the waterway for spectators, and more.

6) July 14: Onondaga Cup & Lakefest
Syracuse, NY

This relatively new regatta is in a class all its own, featuring a full day of races and free entertainment along the shores of Onondaga Lake (home to the Syracuse Chargers crew teams and the historic site of the very first IRA Regatta, in 1952). Camp out for the day and take part in lakeside yoga and barre classes, swim with “real mermaids,” and watch live glass-blowing and music performances. The full slate of competitive events include all levels of rowing, plus kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and even something called “Dragon Board Racing”—essentially team paddleboarding. Have a daring, athletic group in tow? You can enter with no experience. Get out there and make (family) history.

Image © Steve Hopkins

7) August 4: Narragansett Boat Club Sweeps & Sculls
Providence, RI

Planning for a Brown crew alumnus? Check out the NBC’s annual Sweeps & Sculls regatta, an accessible, centrally located event to plan a family day around. This Rhody rowing club has a fascinating history (which you can read on its website) that will intrigue any passionate rower. The boathouse is perched right on the edge of the Seekonk River, in the Blackstone Park recreation area and upriver of the Brown boathouse. Graduates of that Ivy League rowing program can attest to the Seekonk’s strong currents and choppy waves—any race on this course is sure to be fun to watch.

Image Credit: The Yarmouth Rowing Club

8) August 19: Cow Island Classic – Maine State Championship
Brunswick, ME

Looking for a northeastern race that’s within driving distance? Hold your Father’s Day celebration over till August and hit up the Cow Island Classic, recently designated the Maine State Championship. Watch a small but mighty group of the region’s best rowers circle the eponymous Cow Island, on the Androscoggin River, then head in whichever direction calls your name for that ultimate Maine coast summer staple: a lobster roll.

A very happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there– on the boat or off! Don’t forget to use code RPLTR for free shipping at checkout.

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