High school rowing has a big profile in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island in April and May of each year.
On the last weekend in April, April 29th through May 1st, the 41st annual Brentwood Regatta will take place at Brentwood College School on the open waters of Mill Bay, BC. Brentwood College rowing is well known internationally and the program has produced numerous Olympic rowers and Olympic medalists over the years as recently featured by the Rick Mercer Report on CBC Television.
The Brentwood Regatta is the largest athletic event hosted by a single high school, and I’ve heard mention that it may be the second largest high school rowing regatta in all of North America. It is an official event sanctioned by Rowing BC. Typically there are about 1500 athletes participating, plus coaches, plus parents who come to watch their kids and help out with the teams. Numerous teams come from the Vancouver Lower Mainland area, but also from Washington State, Oregon, California, and of course Vancouver Island. Over the years teams from Australia, Bermuda, Ontario, and the UK have also participated. This regatta is probably the biggest event of the year taking place in the region, with Cowichan Valley Bed & Breakfasts and hotels/motels in Mill Bay, Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, Cowichan Bay and much of Duncan all filling up for this exciting sporting event. At Cobble House Bed & Breakfast we’ve had the pleasure of hosting parents from Eugene Oregon, St. Georges School in Vancouver, Sammamish Rowing, Green Lake Rowing and Everett Rowing in Washington State. We’re looking forward to welcoming some of last year’s parents back to this year’s event!
Two weeks after the Brentwood Regatta the focus shifts to Shawnigan Lake where Shawnigan Lake School will be hosting its annual regatta. Rowing is also a flagship sport at Shawnigan Lake School, making for some real competitiveness between the two private boarding schools, which are located just a few kilometers apart. While the Shawnigan Regatta is a much smaller and more BC centric event, it too offers high caliber rowing, a sport practiced year-round on Vancouver Island. Canada’s national rowing team trains primarily at Elk Lake in nearby Victoria, but also comes up to train on Shawnigan Lake. There are several regattas held at Elk Lake every year and also on the Gorge, and a small regatta at Maple Bay in the Cowichan Valley on April 16th. The relatively mild climate on Vancouver Island is definitely a factor in making this area a prime rowing environment.
If you’re in the area for either the Brentwood or the Shawnigan Regattas, do come out and check out some terrific Vancouver Island rowing!