US Rowing Masters Nat'l Championship sets off in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Thousands of people from across the country are in West Michigan for a national sports competition.

The U.S. Rowing Masters National Championship is underway in Grand Rapids, bringing hundreds of competitors to the Grand River.

It marks the largest regatta ever held in Michigan, and it will be right in Grand Rapids. Over the next four days, 1,400 boats will be racing in 200 events.

The Grand River at Riverside Park is hosting the first national rowing event to come to Michigan. The regatta is a 1,000 meter, 6-lane high-intensity race, as rowers are coming from far and near to become the 2014 USRowing Champions.

"About 200 people, give or take a few, 140 clubs from all the states, and also a couple from Canada," said Grand Rapids Rowing Association President Landon Bartley.

On top of races every four minutes, there's also a hospitality tent, and beer garden full of local brews to enjoy.

The partership between Grand Rapids Rowing Association and the West Michigan Sports Commission made the event possible.

They say it will put West Michigan on the map as a rowing destination.

"These are folks who are competitive and really want to win and want to have a good race. We have a great event for them and a great opportunity," Bartley said. "It's the national championship, so people are working really hard."

Big events like this are also big business to the area.

Organizers estimate the Masters Championship could pump $3 million into the local economy.

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