25th Highland Lake Regatta/Maine State Championship

  • Hosted By Maine Rowing Association

History of the Highland Lake Regatta/Maine State Championship

Ron Hatch had a couple of rowing shells behind his dental office. Brook Sulloway had an old Alden Ocean Shell. Marj Martin (Burgard) suggested to Brook that he start an adaptive rowing program in Bridgton. The Lions Club donated an Alden double and an adaptive oarmaster and fellow Lion, Steve Collins was enlisted to help with the project. By the end of the first season, Steve was hooked on rowing. The trio attended races at Moosehead Lake (where Steve won his first race) and the Isles of Shoals and decided to host a race in Bridgton. After a couple of seasons, it seemed more appropriate to have the US Rowing liability coverage serve all the races in Maine, rather than just our little adaptive program and race. Thus the Maine Rowing Association was born. Races offered by the MRA included the Quahog Bay Row Around, the Moosehead Rowing Regatta, the Kennebec Flatwater Drag Race, the Highland Lake Regatta, the Cow Island Classic, the Megunticook Mini-Marathon and the Head of the Scog.

 

The first Highland Lake Regatta was offered in 1991 at the Bridgton Town Beach and boat launch. As the regatta grew, so did the problems with power boats launching and taking out in the middle of the race. The race was moved to Arey’s Highland Lake Resort and in 1997, Dick and Pam Arey sold the resort to Woody Woodward, who graciously agreed to allow the regatta to continue to be held on his beautiful stretch of waterfront. With copious amounts of lawn for parking and a great spectator vantage point of the lake, it is an idyllic setting for a race. With the exception of 2011, when Steve Collins had a heart attack, the regatta has run continuously. We have had some blustery years when some rowers chose to scratch but others still braved the whitecaps. Be careful what you wish for; a clear, sunny day might encourage our enemy, a northwest wind! A threat of showers usually guarantees flat water. Somewhere in between is perfect!

 

The regatta has always welcomed all classes of row boats: Fixed-seat, adaptive, rec-shell, ocean shell, racing singles, doubles, quads, fours and, although we have never seen an eight, this could be the year. Generally, it takes at least two boats to make a class, with the requirement of one more boat than the number of medals offered for that class. (4 boats in a class=three medals offered) A boat all alone in its class will be moved to compete in the next more challenging class. YOUTH! Please, encourage youngsters to enter the race. We want to grow the sport and are generous with medals for youth classes!

 

The venue has been popular and the entries numerous enough that the MRA Board of Directors continues to designate the Highland Lake Regatta as the “Maine State Championship”. This prestigious label means that the previous year’s tally of the MRA “point system” for all of its races are announced and the champion awarded the trophy during our results ceremony.


The first Saturday in August is a great time to come to beautiful Bridgton, Maine and share in the comaraderie, competition and good food at the gorgeous waterfront of the Highland Lake Resort!