Regatta 2017 looks to make a splash with Jaguar pride

The image caption followsView print quality image
Rowers are off to the races at the 2016 Regatta in this file photo. Saturday, Sept. 23, will mark the 2017 event, which will feature 150 teams of rowers vying for the fastest times. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

Ya gotta Regatta. Ya just gotta.

When there's an estimated 10,000 people lining the downtown Indianapolis canal while watching teams race their canoes over a half-mile of water, it calls for one of the biggest events on the IUPUI calendar. The 2017 IUPUI Regatta is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Paddles will first hit water in the north Admiral Spruance Basin near 10th and 11th streets.

The image caption followsView print quality image
Regatta 2017 by the numbers. An accessible version of this graphic is available online. Graphic by Tim Brouk, IU Communications

"It's one of those events that everyone looks forward to on campus," said Ryan Fraser, an IUPUI sophomore and director of marketing for Regatta. "It's one of our big, signature things. I've talked to a lot of seniors who've rowed in Regatta or just been to it, and they say it's one of their favorite college memories and highlights." 

Fraser and his fellow committee members have lined up more than 700 registered participants, who include 600 paddlers on 150 teams that will race in 15 heats throughout the morning and afternoon. Each heat features ten teams, with the canoes taking off in increments of five at a time. Heats begin every 20 minutes.

Winners will receive trophies and enough glory to make them float through the academic year. Saturday's competitors will have to work extra hard to beat 2016's impressive times: Minty Fresh (9:24, women's division), Teeth (7:07, men's division), and IUPUI Swimming and Diving (7:13, co-ed division).

Now in its ninth year, the Regatta has become ingrained in Jaguar culture. Scores of alumni come back to downtown for it. Staff and faculty members are side by side with students cheering on the teams. 

"It's the one day all of campus comes together for something," said Evan Goley, Regatta executive director and a senior studying human resources management and marketing.

"It's such a unique venue. It's different and not like any other sporting event." 

Scholarship and fellowship ahoy!

The image caption followsView print quality image
Regatta committee members Ryan Fraser, Evan Goley and Sarah Goy, from left, pose for a photograph in the Campus Center. They've registered more than 700 participants for the 2017 event, which is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

One of Goley's goals is to ramp up the scholarship side of Regatta. Over the past three years, the event has given back $30,000 in the form of 10 $1,000 scholarships a year to IUPUI students who had completed at least 26 hours and maintained at least a 3.0 GPA. The scholarships are awarded to students based on academic performance, financial need, and leadership experience in campuswide organizations or community service. The scholarship is named in honor of Stefan Scott Davis, executive director of the IUPUI Office of Alumni Relations and senior executive with the IU Alumni Association from 1994-2015.

While the scholarship is calculated, school spirit is another positive byproduct that has occurred at Regatta naturally. Team costumes aren't required, but they are encouraged. Gorilla suits, pirate apparel, hospital scrubs and other wild outfits are common. A team theme contest has been implemented, and winners will be chosen at the race.

Making a splash in downtown

The canal in downtown Indianapolis is always bustling. When the weather cooperates, joggers, walkers and cyclists use the feature as a backdrop for fitness. Tourists stroll along it or rent paddleboats.

Some Regatta competitors get into the canal, literally.

"There are people who tip their canoes," said Sarah Goy, Regatta associate executive director and a neuroscience senior. "The bottom of the canal is nasty and very slippery."

"It happened to me last year," Fraser admitted sheepishly. "I lost my glasses when I fell in." 

The south Walnut Basin, also known as the exchange or transition basin, is home to some of the most action and chaos. This is where the fresh paddlers hop in. Having donned life vests, the teammates receive oars from the first pair and hop into the canoes. Goley said some competitors get overconfident in the exchange.

"Getting in and out of the canoe is a mess," Goley said with a laugh, noting that this is when much of the tipping occurs. "Oh, don't get me wrong -- it's entertaining."

While rowers have taken spills and gotten to know the downtown canal closely, there haven't been injuries -- just raucous fun for a supposedly landlocked city. 

"We do as much as we can," Goley said. "There's pretty much something for everyone, whether you're a student or a 5-year-old with your parents."

Regatta events

  • Battleships

    Battleships is Jagathon's event held in conjunction with Regatta Week. This week it will be from 8 to 11 p.m. Sept. 19 in the IU Natatorium Competition Pool. Teams combine skill, balance, creativity and school pride into an all-out water fight. They use buckets and other water-throwing and -blocking devices to sink an opposing team's canoes while remaining afloat to be crowned the IUPUI Intramural Battleships Champion. 

  • Cardboard Boat Competition

    The traditional Regatta kick-off event starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, just before the race, at the and features teams of engineers that have constructed their own canal-worthy vessels. Don’t worry, they’ve signed proper releases and liability waivers.

  • Dog Costume Contest

    Dress up your pooch for prizes. Registration runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Regatta, and the contest will go from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. at the Community Festival Area in the south Walnut Basin.

  • Tug of War Contest

    At noon, the Regatta will break to make room for another canoe-based event, team tug of war. This event will take place just south of the Walnut Basin in the straight part of the canal before the walking bridge.