Michigan State crew prepares for the Head of the Grand regatta, which will take place at Lansing's Grand River Park on Sunday, Oct. 17. The regatta marks MSU's only home competition of the fall racing season and gives novices their first opportunity to race. Competition begins at 9 a.m. and concludes around 1 p.m.
"This is the novices' first race and we want them to have fun," said MSU head coach Matt Weise. "We want to make sure it is a good experience for them. They have practiced pieces and they know what to expect. They are a little nervous, but mostly really excited."
The Head of the Grand, which began in 1992, entails a 3,500 km (2.0-mile) racecourse. MSU's opponents in the day's competition include Eastern Michigan, Grand Valley State University, Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech, as well as the MSU club rowing program.
Other participants include the Lansing Oar and Paddle Club and the Pink Ribbon Crew. Those involved in the Pink Ribbon Crew event are breast cancer survivors who learned to row as members of MSU's We Can Row program, founded by MSU assistant coach Stacey Rippetoe.
The Spartans have enjoyed enormous success thus far, as MSU captured nine first- place finishes in 10 total events at its first competition against Michigan and Eastern Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sept. 19. Despite a victorious season-opener, MSU has been working harder than ever to improve.
"We have been honing in on the technical side of things," Weise said of his team's recent focus in practice. "We want to work on holding those improvements in race situations. We have improved a lot and, now, it is just a matter of carrying those improvements into competition and not just this weekend, but throughout the fall."
Admittance to the regatta will be free of charge and directions to Grand River Park from the MSU campus are as follows:
496-W to the Lansing Road exit (exit 4). Just after exiting, go under a bridge and look for a brown Grand River Park sign on the left, marking the entrance to the park.