Grand Rapids Fall Classic

  • Hosted By: Grand Rapids Rowing Association



The Grand Rapids Fall Classic is hosted by the Grand Rapids Rowing Association. Beginning just north of the GRRA boathouse, near Fifth-Third Ballpark and ending along picturesque Riverside Park, the 3k course runs on a calm and scenic stretch of the Grand River that is perfect for rowing.


The regatta will be held at the Grand Rapids Rowing Association Boathouse. The boathouse is located at 291 North Park Street NW, Grand Rapids, and shares a driveway with Greenleaf Landscaping.

Trailer parking and shell storage will be in the parking lot and area closest to the boathouse with athlete and spectator parking in the field on the south end of the property. For crews arriving on Friday, trailers may be dropped off between 4:00 and 7:00 PM. The boathouse property sits behind a locked gate, but there will not be overnight security and storage of equipment is at your own risk. Gates will open beginning at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning.


Entries must be submitted online at RegattaCentral. The entry deadline is Wednesday, October 16 at 11:59 PM EST. Late entries will be accepted on a case by case basis and may be requested by emailing the regatta director.

Masters competitors must submit date(s) of birth for all competitors during the entry process. Masters crews with missing or incomplete date of birth information will forfeit the entire crew’s handicap. The lineup deadline is the same as the entry deadline, Wednesday, October 16 at 11:59 PM. Lineups and/or birthdates will not be accepted the day of the regatta.

All competitors may race in multiple events. Competitors are responsible for allowing sufficient time to race in one event, land, re-queue, and launch again.

The regatta will not refund scratches communicated after the Wednesday, October 16 entry deadline.


Junior: High school/junior rowers have been enrolled in high school in 2019 and are under the age of 19 as of December 31, 2019.

Novice: Novice athletes are in their first year of rowing.

Lightweight: High school lightweight rowers should comply with current USRowing maximums of 150 for men and 130 for women. There will be no weigh-in; lightweight entries are on the honor system, however a scale will be available at headquarters for protests.

Masters: Masters are 21 years of age or older and are at least one year removed from competitive college or national team rowing. Handicaps are awarded beginning at age 27.           

Mixed: Mixed crews should be 50% male and 50% female, excluding the coxswain.

Open: No age or experience restrictions. Gender restrictions and mixed boat requirements apply.


Handicaps for masters events are figured on the average age of the crew using standard USRowing handicap formulas. Handicaps will be assigned by age class. Rowers competing as masters who fail to provide ages for each rower in the boat will forfeit the entire crew's handicap. Masters competitors must submit date(s) of birth for all competitors during the entry process. The lineup/birthdate entry deadline is the same as the entry deadline. Lineups and/or birthdates will not be accepted the day of the regatta.


The race schedule is posted on RegattaCentral. The coaches and coxswains meeting will be held at the headquarters tent at 8:00 AM. The first race will begin at 9:00 AM. A final schedule will be made available to all competitors by Friday, October 18. Final race times may be adjusted depending on the final number of entries, but entries will be run in the order currently listed with reasonable amounts of time maintained to allow for athlete and equipment circulation between events where applicable.

All competitors may race in multiple events. Hot seating is permitted, but races will not be held to accommodate hot seats arriving to the start late. It is your responsibility to ensure there is sufficient time between races to return, land, launch, and re-que.


Coaches and scullers must report to the regatta headquarters tent to pick up their race packet. Registration/check-in will be open on Saturday from 7:00 to 10:00 AM.

Any scratches must be reported to the headquarters tent at least one (1) hour prior to an event’s start time. The regatta will not refund scratches communicated after the Wednesday, October 16 entry deadline.


All participants must complete a paper waiver available on RegattaCentral. Waivers will be collected at the headquarters tent during registration and will be required to receive a race packet and bow numbers.


Results will be posted as they occur and are finalized by the regatta officials (including any penalties) at the headquarters tent. After the race, official results will be available on RegattaCentral, Row2k, and the Grand Rapids Rowing Association website.


Medals will be awarded for first, second, and third place in each event. Medals may be picked up, once the official results are posted, by a team official from the headquarters tent.


All shells must be equipped with a bow ball. Each set of shoes within the shell must be equipped with properly-secured heel tie-downs no longer than three (3) inches.


Bow markers will be provided to all crews by the Regatta. Bow markers must be returned at the conclusion of racing and will be collected at the control commission tent at the dock. A $10 charge will be assessed for any bow markers that are not returned. All shells must have bow clips to race.


Trailer parking and equipment staging will be in the parking lot adjacent to the boathouse and in the north end of the field. Trailers should back up towards the highway to the edge of the lot. Equipment can be staged around and in front of trailers. See map at the end of the packet for detail.

Spectator and athlete parking will be in the south end of the field. Drivers are asked to follow the directions of volunteers for entering the field and parking. Busses may remain on the road to the west (highway) side. See map at the end of the packet for detail.

Team tents may be set up behind the trailers (between the trail and parking lot), in the lower field across from the boathouse, or at the edge of the parking area. See map at the end of the packet for detail.


The course offers ample spectating locations, including along the White Pine Trail (first 1000 meters), areas near the boathouse (1000-2000 meters), the North Park Bridge (just after the 2000 meter mark), and the north end of Riverside Park (the last 1000 meters). See map at the end of the packet for detail.


When heading to the dock to launch, crews should approach the dock bow first. Control commission will check the heel tie-downs and bow ball of each shell and mark down that the crew has launched. The control commission or dock master will signal when you may approach the dock. There is 150 feet of dock for launching and landing on both sides, but only a single ramp for all dock traffic. Crews will launch upstream – turn to the left as you walk onto the dock.

When returning from the finish line crews will land with their bow upstream. Crews should stay close to shore so as to avoid the race course and maintain a good position for docking. The dock master will provide direction for where to land.


After launching, crews will proceed upstream for about 1,500 meters to the start area. Yellow and orange buoys will separate warm up traffic from racing traffic and crews should take care to stay to the left hand side and away from the race course. Crews should proceed past the start line before turning and getting in bow number order for their race. A start area marshal will assist in arranging crews and directing them to the start.

At the start of the race, crews will be directed to approach the start by the marshal. This will be a running start. The start line is marked by two large orange buoys. When a crew’s bow ball crossed the start line, between the large orange buoys, the starter will say “GO” to alert the crew that the clock has started. Racing crews should stay to the left of the buoy line. The course has ample width to avoid collisions and tight passing scenarios.

The course is 3000 meters downstream. The finish line will be marked with two large orange buoys and a horn will sound when crews cross the finish line. After crossing the finish line, crews must continue rowing – do not stop immediately after crossing the finish line! We will do our best to mark all obstacles, but be advised that the river is a constantly changing environment.)  See map at the end of the packet for race course detail.

Please review the bridge pattern map at the end of the packet for details on which bridge arches to use. The arches will be marked from above and/or with buoys on race day and will be obvious. Using the wrong arch may result in damage to equipment or penalty for violation of the traffic pattern.


Officials will be situated along the race course to assure safety and fairness. Generally, USRowing rules of racing will be enforced. The primary goal of the officials is to ensure safety and fairness, not assess penalties.

In head racing, there is almost certainly passing that takes place. Crews being overtaken (passed) should yield to the overtaking (passing) crew. The overtaking crew must make it known which side they intend to pass on so that the crew being overtaken can provide them space. Neither the overtaking crew or crew being overtaken should force the other into any hazard, the shore, bridge abutment, or off the course. If necessary, crews should exhibit restraint until they are able to safely pass. Generally, the river is plenty wide to easily allow for passing. Failure to yield (by the crew being overtaken) or creating an unsafe situation (by either crew) may result in a penalty.

In no situation should any crew push a situation to the point of collision, in racing or otherwise. Coxswains and scullers should be aware of their surroundings at all time and remain in control of their boat at all times. Stopping, even in a race, is always preferable to collision. Causing a collision will result in a penalty.

All crews must adhere to the traffic pattern at all times and never cross the yellow buoy line that separates the warm up and return side of the river from the racing side. The river is more than wide enough for this to always be possible. Crews violating the traffic pattern will be assessed a penalty. Crews disregarding the direction of marshals and officials at the start and finish may also be assessed a penalty. If violating the traffic pattern results in an additional unsafe situation, collision, or interferes with racing, additional penalties may be assessed.

All participants, spectators, and coaches and expected to exhibit good sportsmanship. GRRA has a zero tolerance policy for disrespectful language or behavior. Unsportsmanlike conduct will result in immediate disqualification.

Crews must start and finish their race with their bow number to allow for easy identification by the officials and timers. A missing bow number may result in a penalty. All crews are expected to be on time to the start. All crews will be required to race in the event in which they are entered. Crews arriving late may be assessed a penalty and required to start at the end of the starting order. In extreme circumstances, the crew may be raced as an exhibition entry, at the discretion of the regatta director.

All penalties are subject to the discretion of the officials at the start, finish, and along the course.

Penalties are generally summarized below:

Failure to Yield

Failure to yield to an overtaking crew in a reasonable amount of time.

First offense: 30 seconds

Second offense: 60 seconds


Actions resulting in a collision, regardless of the right-of-way.

First offense: 60 seconds

Second offense: disqualification

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Inappropriate language or disrespectful behavior


Traffic Pattern Violation

Crossing over the center buoy line, ignoring the direction of a marshal or official, using the wrong bridge arch.

First offense: 30 seconds

Second offense: 60 seconds

Missing Bow Number

Bow numbers should be securely affixed to allow for easy identification by officials and the start and finish line timers.

30 seconds

Late to the Start

This will be at the description of the starter. Options include assessing the penalty as listed, allowing the crew to race as an exhibition, or issuing the crew a warning and allowing them to start out of order.

30 seconds


Protests must be filed on the water to the finish marshal. The protesting team will be assessed a $25 fee which will be returned if the protest is upheld. The protesting crew will have 30 minutes from the time they return to the dock to provide their protest in writing to the headquarters tent along with the necessary fee. Protests will be forwarded to the and regatta director for consideration and will involve a conference of the crew filing the protest, any other crews involved in the situation leading to the protest, coaches of both crews, and the necessary referees.