One of the biggest and most prestigious rowing regattas traditionally held on Lake Lanier is moving to Oak Ridge, Tenn. in 2021. The American Collegiate Rowing Association board announced its national championships will be on Melton Lake May 21-23. It will be the Oak Ridge Rowing Association’s second time hosting the regatta, the last time being in 2009.
The Lake Lanier Olympic venue, now Lake Lanier Olympic Park, has been the predominant site of the crown regatta for collegiate club programs since 2008. The Memorial Day weekend championship usually brings more than 1,500 athletes and spectators to Gainesville. Hotels and restaurants teem with crew members and fans in town for the regatta.
ACRA had planned to be on Lanier for its 2020 championships but canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
A press release from the ACRA board stated members unanimously accepted the Oak Ridge Rowing Association’s bid after reviewing offers from several venues. The Lake Lanier Rowing Club was among bidders for the 2021 event, according to Robyn Lynch, LLOP Executive Director and Gainesville Tourism Director. LLRC president Cliff Ward did not respond to a request for comment prior to Lakeside’s deadline.
Lynch indicated ACRA’s move was not completely unexpected. “There have been conversations over the past few years with ACRA and their interest in having several locations that alternate annually, so we were not completely surprised. We look forward to working with LLRC on bidding for 2022 and hope to have the event back soon,” she said.
“The ACRA Championships mean so much to LLOP, the city of Gainesville, local hotels and restaurants and we look forward to this event each year,” Lynch said. “In addition, we know that the athletes and coaches consider Lake Lanier one of the top courses in the US. We look forward to having the championships back in the near future.”
ACRA’s press release states that the Melton Lake venue provides many of the same amenities as LLOP, plus an added benefit. “An additional perk is that Melton Lake is closed to all other boat traffic and enforced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, eliminating pleasure boat wake,” it states. Such closures are not enforced on Lake Lanier, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.