Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day 2021: Upcoming Regattas, Rowing Programs, and More

Our annual Father’s Day listing of great races to head to with your dad this summer is back for 2021! This year we’ve included current information about favorite annual regattas along with a few new ways to share in the excitement of rowing with the guy who raised you.

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 East Coast (which RowingPad calls home) 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 seven summer regattas and rowing events we’ve rounded up below? Combine your outing with a special Father’s Day gift for your rowing patriarch: a new boat or erg pad. Is your pop following the #RowtoTokyo excitement? Make him the envy of his boat club with one of RowingPad’s elite-level boat pads featuring Anti-Slip Technology. A favorite training tool among some of today’s top pro rowers, the pads have a slip-resistant coating that provides stability even in wet or extra cold conditions. (They’ve even been spotted on the docks of the Olympic trials this spring!) 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.

1) June 19: 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. A planned massive dredging effort of the iconic racing river, which began last summer, has stalled, but racing is still taking place this year. Though this early summer race is lower profile than some of the other annual fixtures that take place here (see regatta No. 2 on our list), it is rich with America’s rowing heritage and set in Philadelphia’s stunning Fairmount Park.

2) July 3 and 4: The Independence Day Regatta
Philadelphia, PA

Make a Fourth of July pilgrimage 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. Though restricted to just two days this year, the event, originally called “the People’s Regatta,” has grown into a major competition featuring upwards of 1,000 boats and numerous ancillary activities. Book a nearby hotel and spend a couple beautiful summer mornings along the historic Schuylkill River before staking out a post for Philadelphia’s own spectacular July 4th fireworks display.

3) July 13 to July 18: US Rowing Summer National Championships
Camden, NJ

If your family includes teenagers or college students who are at all interested in racing, consider a trip to watch this year’s racing showcase for the most talented under 17, under 19, and under 23 athletes in the country. The US Rowing Summer National regatta, which also includes an open category for senior and elite rowers, features five days of competition on the seven-lane course along the beautiful Cooper River. (Check out the beautiful Camden County Boathouse in the park!) Stay in Philadelphia, just 18 miles from the Cooper River, to add some arts and culture to your trip or make a beach run east to the Jersey shore before or after all the rowing action.

4) July 31: 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.

5) August 11-15: Henley Royal Regatta
Henley-on-Thames, UK

Bring your patriotic spirit across the Pond for a summer escape to this most storied of rowing events. A milestone celebration for the truly passionate lifelong rower, a trip to England for this annual international regatta, which features more than 200 races, can’t be beat (Covid travel restrictions allowing). This year might see smaller crowds due to safety regulations and fewer entries by some school and university boat clubs due to the August timing, but it’s still sure to be an excellent few days of racing. Remember to pack your pinstripes (the dress code remains quite strict) and prepare to soak in all of the wonderfully quaint riverside rowing tradition.

6) August 12-15: US Rowing Masters National Championships
Oak Ridge, TN

Looking to head south this summer? Don’t miss the opportunity to road trip to beautiful Melton Lake, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This picturesque rowing venue, the home base for the Oak Ridge Rowing Association, will host a major event for the very passionate Masters rowing community in this year’s US Rowing Masters National Championships. Cheer on Masters rowers of all ages from across the country as they compete in more than 200 categories. With Melton Lake’s 30 miles of calm water surrounded by towering mountain ranges, it’s sure to be a memorable setting for excellent racing, spirited spectating, and lakeside sunsets.

7) Ongoing, Indoor Rowing Classes
Locations Near You

Maybe your dad is less of an on-water rower and more into the ergometer. Join forces for the day (or make a commitment to meet up for a weekly class) and motivate each other for a personal best. Indoor rowing studios across the country offer first-rate instruction from experienced rowers along with innovative ways to get your muscles pumped and your mind focused. In the New England region, we love Power Rowing, in Brookline, Massachusetts, right outside Boston, which offers a great assortment of straight rowing and combo classes. (Read our interview with Power Rowing’s inspirational founder, Bryan Fuller.) Bonus: You can scoop up a new RowingPad for Dad at the studio to add some extra comfort to his workouts.

A very happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there—on the boat or off!

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