American Youth Cup races set for Saturday at Nathan Benderson Park

UNIVERSITY PARK -- The last of an annual series of three not-for-profit regattas is slated for Saturday at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park, leading up to national championship races to be held in June in Sarasota for the first time.

The American Youth Cup regattas precede the national USRowing championship, slated to be held at the park June 12-14, said Casey Galvanek, head coach for Sarasota Crew, which is hosting Saturday's regatta.

Possibly 1,500 athletes, or about 150 teams from across the United States, will be taking part in the USRowing Youth National Championship event, he said.

As of Thursday, six clubs had signed up for Saturday's race, including those from Orlando, Tallahassee, Windermere, Osprey, Tampa and one unaffiliated team, according to the website regattacentral.com.

"This series in general is to help kids prepare for national championships," explained Galvanek. "And this weekend will be great, because the kids that win the event over the course of the three-regatta series will get a special award in addition to their medal, and they're the champion of that event."

The other two events in the series took place earlier this year for the teen rowers, he said.

Galvanek said his club will have 24 entries during the regatta, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and continues to 2 p.m., according to Sarah Kupiec, event and volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit organization that manages the park at 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle.

The event is free and is open to the public.

For more on the upcoming championships, visit usrowing.com.

Sara Kennedy, University Parkway reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.