The Memphis Riverfront International Championship Regatta: That’s quite a mouthful. But the title befits the event, which boasts an extensive list of attractions and hopes to draw a sizable crowd to Tom Lee Park July 31st through August 2nd. The regatta is not only the first in Memphis, it is the first on the Mighty Mississippi — a stretch of river that boat racers have been clamoring to tackle for years.
Jesse Briggs, event coordinator, says this race will make Memphis a major player in the powerboat arena. Whereas high-speed boat races usually bring in around 20 boats, Briggs expects to have 40 boats contending for the championship. Powerboat contestants will race around a rectangular track, reaching speeds of up to 125 mph. Between races, the waterway is cleared to accommodate passing barges, something Briggs touts as a sort of slow-paced interlude. In addition to high-speed boat races, the regatta will feature live music, food vendors, kiddie park, kayak races, and jet-ski acrobatics. Radio station Rock 103 is covering the event, along with Fox Sports South.
This is the inaugural race of what is slated to be a yearly event. “We have a five-year contract with the APR Powerboat Super League to make their championship cup destination the great city of Memphis, with an option for an additional five years,” Briggs explains.
The festivities begin each day at 10 a.m. and end at 7 p.m. After the races on Saturday, head over to Primetime Sports Bar and Grill for an after-party with the drivers, V.I.P.s, and sponsors. And as for tickets? “The event is free,” Briggs says. “It’s what we like to call financially friendly.” — Hannah Sayle