The 185 km (115-mile) Corvallis-to-Portland Row (CPR) is one of the longest rowing events in the world involving conventional racing shells. The Ringvaart Regatta (whose slogan is in English: Length Does Matter) at 100 km seems to be the next longest. Meanwhile, The Guinness Book of World Records suggests that the longest rowing event is the Tour du Léman à L’Aviron, however this regatta is "designed for four rowers and a coxswain in larger boats called 'yolettes.' " Meanwhile the Murray Marathon is longer still at 404 km, but it seems to involve primarily kayaks, canoes and surfskis over 5 days. The Atlantic Rowing Race, involving specialized craft, is clearly longer still.
|Event||Total Distance||Longest One-Day Distance||# Days||Boat Types|
|Murray Marathon||404 km||96 km||5||Kayaks, canoes, surfskis. It's not clear that rowing shells are allowed.|
|CPR||185 km||137 km||2||Racing shells: 1x, 2x, 4x, 4+, 8+|
|Tour du Léman à L’Aviron||160 km||160 km||1||4+, 4x "Yolettes" generally|
|Ringvaart Regatta||100 km||100 km||1||Racing shells: 1x, 2x, 4x, 4+, 8+|
Whether it's the longest conventional racing shell regatta or not, CPR is certainly the most understated. There are no brochures like Ringvaarts, no reports like the Murray Marathon's, and no fancy website like any of the other events. There is virtually no publicity, no marketing, and no self-trumpeting. Last year, the simple event website didn't even have a link to an entry form until right before the event was supposed to happen. Organized by Tiff Wood, better known for helping start the Crash-Bs (aka the World Indoor Rowing Championships), the bulk of the information about the event is basically contained in this one short paragraph.
"The distance is 115 miles, including a trip through the Willamette Falls Locks at mile 104. CPR is a 2-day event, with 85 miles rowed on the first day, ending at Champoeg Park with a campfire and an excellent catered dinner (bring your own tent). Then early to rise Sunday morning for the 19-mile row to the Locks, a half-hour to rest while descending 45 feet to the lower Willamette, then a mere 11-mile sprint to the finish. The medals, designed and made by Bill Byrd, are worth rowing the distance."
Don't let the phrase "excellent catered dinner" deceive you into imagining this is some cushy tour with brie and Sauvignon Blanc. Far from it, this is really a self-sufficient event with minimal support. Any food, drink, medical attention you need during the rowing portion has to come from you or your crew (if you have anyone). You will likely row for hours at a time without seeing a "race official".
This is not a closed course and there are many obstacles, including barely submerged tree stumps, rocks, logs, old dam walls, projecting docks, and an assortment of motorized watercraft like jet-skiers and wakeboard boats. Many past participants have run aground, ripped holes in the their hulls, knocked off skegs and generally abused themselves and their boats. Here is a paragraph from one of Ted Katauskas' accounts:
"We drifted alongside the other eight, which had also struck the log. Foundering, we paddled to a beach, removed our oars, and lifted our boat from the water. It was missing its skeg and had sustained an arm's-length gash in its bow; the other boat, beached nearby, had a hole near its mangled rudder. There was nothing to do but bake in the noontime sun. Our neighboring castaways from Corvallis cranked the volume on their cox box and converted their useless Dirigo into a karoake machine."
Lest you need more pampering or think you've earned the right to complain about your blisters, swollen wrists, butt aches, chafing, wind, temperature, wake from jetskis and wakeboarders, etc, think again. No Whiners is the motto for this event.
Don't expect informative communications from Tiff either. He is laconic, borderline cryptic, and non-promotional. Once in a blue moon he will respond to email. It would seem he is more interested in rowing the event than organizing it. And, in fact, you may see him participate in a boat on one leg of the event or maybe the whole distance.
Volunteers are sometimes obtained the day before from rowers' support crew. Susan Parkman seems to be heavily involved and one wonders if the event would happen without her.
Why do I care? I hope to row in CPR this year, actually in less than two weeks. More about that in the next post.