Edited note on 10/17/07: See this article for the 2007 Centennial Regatta.

I’ve finally done something on the Oklahoma River other than just drive around it and take pictures – I’ve gone to the 1st ever the first “sanctioned” night rowing competition in America! Oklahoma City University was the host, Chesapeake Boat House was the provider, and Oklahoma City was the venue. Overall, the event is called, “2006 OCU Head of the Oklahoma.” But as for the “night” stuff tonight, OG&E provided the lights to make Saturday night’s event possible.

According to Rowing News,

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City University announced the Third Annual Head of the Oklahoma regatta will be held Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 on the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. “We have been overwhelmed by the response of the rowing community to our regatta and our commitment to continuing our mission of innovating the regatta experience, providing first class hospitality, and attracting world-class racing to the Oklahoma River,” said Mike Knopp, OCU’s head rowing coach and regatta director.

The Head of the Oklahoma Regatta will stage the first-ever, US-sanctioned night races at this year’s event. US Rowing’s Glen Merry confirmed that no other sanctioned US Rowing regatta has added this element to its racing lineup before now. “The chance to row at night, under the lights in Oklahoma City this autumn opens up many exciting possibilities for US Rowing, and the rowing community as a whole. It provides us with a unique opportunity to market our great sport and to introduce rowing to thousands of people who would not be exposed to it through a typical regatta. We are elated to be working with the leadership at OCU and the Chesapeake Boathouse, as they constantly impress us with their cutting-edge ideas. We look forward to having our national team athletes be a part of this year’s historic event,” Merry said.

In rowing circles, Oklahoma City has been dubbed, “World Class,” and, tonight, Doug Dawg was there to see if the label was for real! Well, since I am so inexperienced about this sport, I couldn’t begin to compare what I experienced tonight with other cities’ and nations’ experiences, but, I surely can say this: It was exiting and it was a total hoot!

The under the lights action involved 500 meter “super sprints” – all of which took place on the river between ML King/Eastern & Byers. Some were collegians, others were non-collegiate teams from rowing clubs around the country. According to the event’s website,

The featured event for the 2006 OCU Head of the Oklahoma is the introduction of night racing on the Oklahoma River. The 500 meter OG&E NightSprints will be held after the sun goes down to create an electrifying atmosphere for competitors and spectators as four 100 foot light arms extend over the river to illuminate the course. The OCU Head of the Oklahoma will be the first regatta in the United States to feature night racing.

Click the image below to go to the website for this excellent Oklahoma City event!


It was on this night (tonight) that I also discovered how badly I need a much spiffier digital camera than I have … the night pics did not turn out nearly as well as I wanted, but, at least, you’ll get a few views in the rest of this post.

Here are the pics. Click any image for a larger view.

Byers (which is how you access the Chesapeake Boat House area) was closed to accomodate the hundreds of boats and other transport vehicles from around the country, many of which were parked on that roadway. This meant that Doug Dawg had to do much more walking to get there than he is accustomed to! This one shows a few boats from SMU on that road as I walked south to get to the Byers bridge over the river.


The pic below shows a couple of crews at the end of a sprint … I’ve already said that I just gotta get a better camera, so don’t give me any complaints … just give me a new camera!


This image is taken from the Byers bridge looking east … you might be able to make out the rowing lanes … most of the onlookers were on the north side of the river where the booths (artist vendors, etc.) were located.


This is perhaps the worst pic I’m posting, but I wanted to show at least one “disembarkment” following a race … looking down from the Byers bridge … in this case, a 1 person crew.


The next 3 pics were taken from the Byers bridge looking at the Chesapeake Boathouse toward downtown.


This one was taken to show some watchers on the Byers bridge, looking east on the river where the sprint races were taking place.


This one is from the Byers bridge, looking east and slightly north where most of the watchers (and vendors) congregated.


Finally, I left the Byers bridge and took some pics from the north bank of the river. This one looks west at the Byers bridge shown in the background.


The guys/gals from Cambridge were not in attendance tonight, but their shelter was.


This just shows some of the watchers watching along the north shore.


Given the limitations of my camera, it was hard to get decent shots of the competitors in action. The next 2 pics are the best of the lot in that regard. The 1st pic shows the leader, and the 2nd shows the pack close behind.


I think, tomorrow, I’d better get down there again and get some decent daytime shots! But, for now, there you have it … the 1st ever sanctioned nightime rowing competition in the whole United States of America … right here in downtown Oklahoma City!

Daytime Addendum

These are some pics I took this morning (Sunday) between 9:45 – 11:30 … same areas, generally, but the camera does better with daytime light.

Some Looks At Chesapeake Boathouse


Looking At Byers Bridge From Boathouse Grounds


Various Views From Byers Bridge


The Video Setup on the North Shore … see the lady, far left


That’s all, folks!