Spring has sprung here in Florida and that means regattas! Marathons! 5ks! Festivals! You name it, and we’ve got it right here in Sarasota. Nathan Benderson Park is a central host for the community’s sporting events. Here’s what on tap this spring at the park.
American Youth Cup I
The first regatta in this annual spring youth racing series will be February 17. The AYC is intended to be a training opportunity for the Youth National Championships. Boats earn points in each class; the crew with the most points in each class at the conclusion of the three regattas is awarded the AYC Cup. The team with the most overall points will be declared the team winner. Teams can also earn subsidies for travel to the Youth National Championships by qualifying in that event class and earning the cup in that boat class. Learn more at RegattaCentral.
Sarasota Invitational Regatta
The oldest rowing regatta (not including Youth Championships) hosted at Nathan Benderson Park returns again February 23-25. Racing is for middle school, high school, and masters athletes. The event typically draws 750+ entries and over 70 clubs from around the nation to compete. It includes a special “Row for Life” event mixing juniors and masters athletes and an Armed Services Veteran’s race. Standard registration closes February 12, so don’t delay in signing up if you plan to compete.
Circus Sarasota Winter Show
Throughout February and into March, Circus Sarasota presents “Ovation,” a show honoring 250 years of modern circus arts. Performers include a range of acts and renowned circus performers. Marvel at the grace of the Liberty Horses, laugh at the Anastasini Soccer Dogs, and sit on the edge of your seat during high wire acts. See Circus Sarasota’s website for the range of show dates, times, and tickets.
My Hometown Festival
Sample some of southwest Florida’s best food and craft beer during the My Hometown Festival March 3. Local sports teams will be present with special challenges. Enjoy live music and family-friendly events. The festival runs from 12pm-4pm, and tickets range from $25-40. All proceeds benefit the Sertoma Club of Greater Sarasota.
Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon
The ITU triathlon on March 10-11 includes eight events including the CAMTRI Elite Championships, CAMTRI North American Junior Championships, CAMTRI Paralympic Championships, and Youth Elite Cup. Starts are staggered throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. The swimming, running, and bicycling portions of the triathlons all take place inside the park. Register at SarasotaTri.
Southeastern Guide Dogs Walkathon & 5k
This fun “Wag N’ Run” 5k running event on March 24 benefits Southeastern Guide Dogs. The charity helps raise, train, and match dogs with visually-impaired persons and disabled veterans. If running isn’t your style, sign up for the 3k Walkathon. Enjoy music, local vendors, and the guide dogs gift shop. Sign up here.
Community Easter Sunrise Service
Crosspointe Church invites the community to participate in its Easter Sunrise Service at the park on April 1. Service should run from 6:30-7:45 am.
FIRA Rowing Regatta
The Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association hosts its championships on April 6-7. This regatta features collegiate teams, men and women, from colleges of all sizes. Note that Florida rowing as some great teams: Barry University women’s team has back-to-back national titles, Florida Tech ranked in USRowing’s 2017 poll, and Nova Southeast has a strong reputation of successful rowing.
FSRA Sculling Championships
Dozens of youth teams from Florida descend on the park for the first in a two-part, two-day state championship bid. On this weekend, youth race in sculling boats: singles, doubles, and quads. Sarasota Crew is the six-peating state sculling champions and has the world junior champion in the men’s single, Clark Dean. Regatta date: April 14-15.
Sarasota International Dragonboat Festival
Take to the lake for some different paddling action: dragonboating! On April 21, GWN dragonboat kicks off its MLDB series with competitive and recreational races. Teams race in 200m, 500m, and 2k pursuit events. The Sport division promises intense competitive action you don’t want to miss. Concurrently will be a health and wellness festival, beer garden, and food vendors. Learn more about the dragonboat festival.
FSRA Sweep Championships
Florida rowing teams return to determine the state champion in the final two-day regatta in their series, April 28-29. On this regatta, teams race only sweep boats: pairs, coxed fours, and eights. Sarasota Crew is the seven-time state champion and looks to extend their streak to eight.
Southeast Youth Regionals
This three-day regatta returns to Florida this year. Athletes from teams around the southeast look to qualify for the Youth National Championships, this year hosted in California. Expect intense racing from over 40 clubs on May 11-13.
NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships DI-III
Witness the best in women’s collegiate rowing at the national championships May 23-27. These women are the future elite athletes driving the sport forward. It’s sure to be an intense four days of racing from the nation’s top teams in all three collegiate divisions. The 2018 event is just the first taste of collegiate rowing at the park; the championships will be park in 2021 and 2022.