The John Hunter is open to all college, scholastic and youth rowing teams and is held at the rowing venue used for the 1996 Olympic Games at Lake Lanier. The 2000 meter course is a 6 lane buoyed course with starting platforms, enclosed finish tower and stadium seating for 3000 fans. This is one of the first sprint regattas of the season for many teams. Because the regatta became so large, in 2016 we moved to a 2-day format with collegiate racing on Saturday and youth racing on Sunday. This allowed for more events to accommodate more rowers each day while making the event more manageable for volunteers.
John Hunter Regatta - Celebrating a 33 Year Tradition
Roswell, GA (March 28, 2019): The 33rd Annual John Hunter Regatta was held this past weekend at Lake Lanier Olympic Park with over 42 clubs from around the country and totaling over 385 entries. This annual event attracts top College and High School programs, bringing spectators from across the southeast and entries from rowing communities as far away as Texas and Minnesota, with many other clubs traveling from across the north and southeast.
The John Hunter Regatta started in 1986 as the Atlanta River Festival and was a collegiate rowing competition for local clubs in the south. The Festival was originally celebrated in Roswell, on the banks of the Chattahoochee River with many local families donating food and drinks for the traveling rowers.
Fast forward 33 years and we now have a full 2-day event which many teams consider an important start to their spring race season. With over 385 boat entries this year, many of these athletes spend their spring breaks training in warmer weather in preparation for the upcoming season and have a tradition of participating in the John Hunter for a chance to start the season off with a gold medal.
The John Hunter Regatta is co-sponsored by Georgia Tech and Saint Andrew Rowing Club, both sharing a boathouse and training facility in Roswell near the original regatta location. As the popularity of the event has increased and the race has moved to the new venue, the decision was made to expand the program to a full 2-day event. The new format ensures that race schedules stay on track while providing greater capacity for future growth. College clubs practice on Friday and race on Saturday, while the High School programs get in a full day of racing on Sunday.
With the expanded format comes an expanded effort. While most of the planning and coordination at the venue is handled by a dedicated committee, parents of St. Andrew Rowing Club head up the orchestration and coordination hundreds of volunteers to fill over 500 volunteer positions across 3 days of activities. Parent and Rower involvement includes parking, driving boats, running concessions, start line boat holders, boat recovery docks and judging. Every year, SA Rowers, parents and Alumni enthusiastically lead the charge and fill critical roles for the weekend’s festivities. “Our athletes and their families love the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the rowing community. They really take pride in coming back year after year to help make the John Hunter a success for the next generation of athletes.” Says Renee Stevens, President of St. Andrew Rowing Club. “Many alumni return to this amazing venue with their new families to share their love for the sport.”
Here’s where you come in: the John Hunter has the reputation of being one of the best events of the season in the rowing community. This is also our biggest fundraiser of the year. The regatta is entirely operated by SA volunteers, friends and family. It provides a fun and hands on way to learn about this Olympic sport and to take part in your rower’s experience. Every parent and supporter is important and needed!
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In 1986, Georgia Tech started a rowing team with used boats and oars purchased through the Student Foundation. The team grew and in 1988, John Hunter became involved in the team. John Hunter was an ardent Georgia Tech supporter and loved the rowing team. He agreed to sponsor the GT crew on St Andrew Catholic Church property and fund a boathouse. Mr. Hunter worked with Reverend E. Peter Ludden to gather support from the congregation to donate the land to start the rowing center we have today. In 1988, the Georgia Tech Rowing Club received permission to build its boathouse on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, behind St Andrew Catholic Church. If you stand at the boathouse and look back at the church, you’ll also see John Hunter’s name on part of the church building.
One stipulation was that Georgia Tech would start a youth rowing club. The youth team was started in the fall of 1988 with great success. In 1990, the youth team and Georgia Tech separated with the youth team taking the name of the property—St Andrew Rowing Club—while keeping the black and yellow colors of Georgia Tech. In 1989, the clubs co-hosted the Atlanta Rowing Festival, now known as the John Hunter Regatta in honor of the vision and generosity of Mr. Hunter to build our incredible rowing teams in Roswell, Georgia.