Lubbers Cup Regatta moving to Grand Rapids

Becky Vargo • Dec 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM

The collegiate rowing regatta that’s attracted numerous Division I athletes to the Tri-Cities area over the last decade will no longer be held on Spring Lake.

However, the Grub and Brew Fest — which has in the past been associated with the Lubbers Cup Rowing Regatta — will continue to be an annual springtime event.

Grand Valley State University Rowing Club’s outgoing Coach John Bancheri told local officials earlier this year that the Lubbers Cup would be returning to the Grand River at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids next spring.

The event will be held April 6-7, he said.

“We absolutely loved Spring Lake and the community, as well as the help from the Chamber and fantastic donors,” Bancheri said. “It was just that we had to cancel and/or modify (because of weather) one too many times for our competitors. It came down to a safe and consistent venue or not having a regatta.”

Last year’s Lubbers Cup was canceled because of high winds that made conditions too dangerous on the lake. Previous year’s events had to be shortened because of similar conditions or storms.

Chamber of Commerce President Joy Gaasch said that she was disappointed in the decision.

“It was great to have a collegiate event in Northwest Ottawa County,” she said. “We, with Grand Valley State University and Bob Stoll, really kind of created an amazing event that garnered world wide attention for the Grand Haven/Spring Lake/Ferrysburg area.”

The Lubbers Cub was originally established as the team trophy for the annual GVSU/Michigan State University dual race. In 2000, it grew into a multi-team regatta that included MSU, University of Michigan, University of Western Ontario, Eastern Michigan University and Northern Michigan University.

The race moved to Spring Lake in about 2009 and eventual competitors over the years included Ohio State, Purdue, Marquette, Illinois, Minnesota, Case Western, Drake, Notre Dame, Robert Morris, Cincinnati, DePaul, Dayton, the United States Coast Guard Academy, Wheaton College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Virginia and Brock University of Canada.

The Chamber Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, became involved with promotion and organization in 2011.

“Although I am sad to see it leave the area, I understand the decision,” Lubbers Cup committee member Paul Winter said. “We (Spring Lake Crew) practiced on Spring Lake for four seasons. It presents many weather challenges. Rowers seek calm water. Wind, rain and cold are not easy obstacles to overcome, especially when you hit the trifecta.”

“We at the Spring Lake Yacht Club are sorry to see this wonderful event go back to Grand Rapids,” added Commodore Brian Deblanc. “We’re proud we had the opportunity to represent the community and extend our club’s hospitality while promoting the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship on the water. An event like the Lubbers Cup takes lots of volunteers and partnerships for success, and the organizers and Chamber of Commerce did a fantastic job of pulling it together through the years. We understand that river venues are often preferred for crew regattas but will welcome the Lubbers Cup back, should they opt to return to Spring Lake in the future.”

Rowing history on SL

A Grand Haven Tribune article from 1893 talked about former area resident Frank Yates who stole all the attention as he won regattas held on Spring Lake and the Grand River. Yates continued racing in Chicago and in 1874 won the American Championship.

Rowing history of GVSU on SL

Rowing was first offered as a physical education class in 1964 at what was then Grand Valley State College. The college was established in 1960. Rowing became a varsity sport in 1966. It changed to a club sport in 1979.

Historical articles note there was so much interest in the sport that the team started holding practices on Spring Lake. 

Rower and Class of 1967 GVSU graduate Bob Monaghan wrote about loading an 8-man, wooden shell on the back of a former farm truck. The team rode in the back of the truck and supported the shell. They transported it to Barrett’s Marina in Spring Lake.

Grub and Brew Fest

The Grub and Brew Fest will be held on April 27, 2019, from 4-8 p.m., at Old Boys Brewhouse in Spring Lake.

The event will no longer be held the same weekend as Lubber’s Cup.

The event focuses on local food, local brews and local music.

“For the fourth year in a row, Old Boy’s will be hosting the event on their deck on the channel, under a large tent,” Gaasch said. “We will have live music, local restaurants and Michigan breweries. The restaurants will be competing this year using a favorite ingredient.”

The event is open to the public.

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