Regatta marks 10 years -- and IUPUI's 50 years -- with its biggest event yet

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Regatta X committee members Kyli Luna, Jason Kabir and Riley Gorden, from left, have organized the biggest IUPUI canoe race yet, which is scheduled for Sept. 22 at the south end of the canal in downtown Indianapolis. Photo by Ashlynn Neumeyer, Indiana University

They may have not been the best paddlers during their first year, but Regatta executive director Jason Kabir and director of rules and teams Riley Gorden have helped concoct the biggest event yet.

"We ended up falling in the water, which makes it all the more fun," laughed Kabir, now a junior studying neuroscience. "It doesn't matter whether you're an expert canoer to have fun."

Slated for Sept. 22, the 10th Regatta will feature 165 teams of canoeists vying for glory in their respective divisions -- male, female and coed. Previous races featured 150 teams, but since we've reached a decade of Regatta coinciding with IUPUI's 50th anniversary, it was time to go big.

To fit the festivities, organizers moved the race to the south end of the downtown Indianapolis canal. The start/finish line will be at the Blackford Street Bridge, while the action-packed transition area will be located at the Ohio Street Basin. Construction along the north end of the canal helped decide the move, too.

Most of the music, performances and student organization tables will be in Military Park, which is adjacent to the Canal Walk at West and New York streets. The races in the canal start at 10:30 a.m.

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Riley Gorden, director of rules and teams, holds the coveted Regatta trophy, which is on display at the Cultural Arts Gallery in the Campus Center. Photo by Ashlynn Neumeyer, Indiana University

"We're so close to campus," Kabir said. "It just seemed like a good move, and with the 10th anniversary along with the 50th anniversary, it seemed fitting.

"We've received a lot of support from campus this year. Everybody's buying into this 10th-anniversary year and kind of transitioning into our homecoming event."

New racing format

Due to the new route's physical obstacles, canoes will be launched every minute in individual time trials instead of the traditional waves of canoes. The paddlers will be racing against themselves, but the action will still be intense and continuous. The fastest times win, so the transition areas will still be hectic as the pairs of paddlers change out. Paddles are passed, and the fresh racers must get situated before heading back to the finish line. A lot of spills and chills are still expected.

Celebrity heat

Local television personalities, radio broadcasters and campus leaders will compete against each other for a special heat.

"We will also bring back past Regatta committee members to help celebrate our 10th anniversary," Kabir said.

Regatta philanthropy

Traditionally, Regatta raises money for 10 $1,000 scholarships to be distributed to IUPUI students. Last year, the Regatta steering committee began a Fundly campaign to raise even more money for the Regatta scholarship fund. The committee raised $6,000 through personal fundraising, which didn't include event proceeds. Money is still being collected for the 2018 scholarships, which will include two new Regatta Royalty scholarships.

The Davis IUPUI Regatta Scholarship shall be available to any IUPUI full-time or part-time undergraduate or graduate who has completed at least 26 hours and maintained at least a 3.0 GPA. Scholarships will be awarded to students based on academic performance, financial need, and leadership experience in campus-wide organizations or community service.

Most important meal of the day

The annual Regatta Family Breakfast will take place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the big tent in Military Park. This is a delicious opportunity to get energized for the day of canoe racing and Jag spirit. The meal is $12, but children 12 and under eat free. Be sure to register to get in on some of that bacon.

More Military Park details

The downtown park will be packed with family-friendly fun: inflatables, bands, DJs, yoga, food trucks and other vendors. The Herron School of Art and Design will debut its Regatta art fair.

Whet your Regatta appetite at the Campus Center

The Cultural Arts Gallery is showing a Regatta retrospective through Oct. 3. Past poster and shirt designs are on display, and the treasured Regatta trophy resides in a gallery window. The hefty hardware will be removed for race day, of course.

The exhibit is dominated by a spirit canoe. Visitors are encouraged to sign the vessel in the name of Regatta celebration. A Regatta backdrop complete with paddles and life vests will be available for the perfect photo opportunity.

Starship IUPUI

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Simon Rhodes, dean of the School of Science, will lead the IUPUI Starship team at Regatta X. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Looking to make a splash in the coed division, the Starship IUPUI has the advantage of bringing the same four paddlers to the past six Regatta events. Led by Simon Rhodes, the School of Science dean, the Starship also consists of Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson, Dean of Engineering and Technology David Russomanno, and Jay Gladden, associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education and University College dean.

Rhodes said he always shares his canoe with Russomanno, while Johnson and Gladden make a competitive pair of paddlers. The team has cracked the coed top 10 before and hope to do so again with the new course and format.

"We've worked out who goes where and what works best," Rhodes said. "Russomanno is an engineer, so he can keep us really straight."

Rhodes looks forward to Regatta every year but says the Sept. 22 edition has the potential of being an unforgettable experience. He expects the perfect team-up between the university and the city of Indianapolis. IUPUI and Indy are the real winners at Regatta, he said.

"We think it's great that Regatta is closer to campus," Rhodes said. "I love it. I think it's something the city is starting to be aware of. The more the city adopts the campus and the more the campus adopts the city, the better we are."