Nathan Benderson Park Rowing
Nathan Benderson Park Rowing

Row, Row, Row Your Boat to Nathan Benderson Park

Nathan Benderson Park offers world-class rowing in addition to a plethora of fun-filled outdoor events

Driving along Highway 75, amidst the condos and retail establishments, you see it in your peripheral. Something zipped. Unlike anything you’ve seen before, it was there, sliding across 400 acres of cobalt waters. When you see it, follow its allure, embrace your intrigue. Pop off the highway at the next exit (Fruitville, exit #210, or University #213 will do) and investigate the goings on at Nathan Benderson Park, home of sliding sculls, dragon boats, and world-class international events.

Rowing Regatta at Nathan Benderson Park
Rowing Regatta at Nathan Benderson Park

In building this new County Park, the goal was events. Rowing, running, festivals - all outdoors and all fun. While Sarasota boasts numerous opportunities for fresh-air enjoyment, Nathan Benderson Park has something nowhere else has – rowing regattas. In the design and development of NBP, crew and rowing were a primary focus. For the sport, the conditions are rather specific, and because of the design of NBP, it’s here and more to come.

In Fall 2017 the World Rowing Championships returns to the USA at Nathan Benderson Park, for the first time in 20 years.  According to WorldRowing.com, this regatta is the biggest annual rowing event and the most important of the season. The last three events were in France, the Netherlands, and Korea. And now they’re coming here. Visitors from around the world will come to view this spectacular event of world-class athletes, fresh off the Rio Olympics, as they zip across the water in their sculls.

Nathan Benderson Park hosts a variety of rowing (and related) events
Nathan Benderson Park hosts a variety of rowing (and related) events

To get your fix until then, Nathan Benderson Park hosts a myriad of events - from rowing to walking, beer fests to circuses - throughout the year.  All these events are advertised on their website. Upcoming highlights include:

  • October 2, 2016: Florida West Coast Half Marathon and 5k. As a runner or spectator, be sure to catch the “Floating Final Mile”!
  • October 8, 2016: Beer, Boats, and Bacon. ‘Learn to row’ courses, a plethora of beer options with unlimited sampling (plan on taking an Uber that day!), and culinary treats from local chefs (with and without bacon).
  • November 5-6: 2016 NBP Rowing Festival. The two-day event features regatta races, kid zone, market, food, beer garden, and bands including Rebel Heart and Jah Movement Reggae Band, amongst others.
  • February 10-March 5, 2017: Circus Sarasota Winter Show. The circus is as much a part of Sarasota as the beach. Amust-do.
  • February 25-26, 2017: Sarasota Invitational Regatta. This annual event attracts participants from around the world.
  • April 1-2, 2017: FIRA Rowing Regatta
  • April 8-9, 2017: FSRA Sculling Championships
  • April 29-30, 2017: FSRA Sweep Championships
  • May 13-June 3, 2017: American Athletic Conference Rowing Championships. Three weeks of die-hard rowing spectatorship.
  • May 20, 2017: SUP & Run 5K. My husband participated in this unique event last year and will surely do it again. Registration options include bringing your own Stand Up Paddleboard or renting one through the race.
  • June 7-11, 2017: USRowing Youth Nationals. It’s amazing enough to see the adults row; watch in wonder as the youth blow your mind.
  • Recurring: Sarasota Model Yacht Club. Sitting aside the peaceful waters, watching model sailboats glide across the surface just screams serenity.
2014 Dragon Boat Event
2014 Dragon Boat Event

In addition to the numerous scheduled events at Nathan Benderson Park, it’s a public space for anyone to enjoy at their leisure. Run the 3.5-mile loop around the lake. Let the kids play on the playground. Have a picnic. Grab some friends and give a try at Dragon Boat Paddling. Launch your paddleboard or kayak (any non-motor boat) into the wave-free waters and enjoy the serenity on the water. The opportunities are endless, and there’s always more to come.