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New tradition SOARs on downtown canal

Nearly 200 students, alumni, faculty and staff got 'wet and wild' this past September in the inaugural IUPUI Regatta on Indy's Downtown Canal.

The canoe race on the canal drew entries from nearly 50 teams of four paddlers each, and the action was at times fierce, funny and frenzied, but always “fan-tastic” for team members, wellwishers and numerous other fans who enjoyed the action under the bright sun and blue skies of a glorious Indian summer day.

The first-year event, run by students from SOAR (the Student Organization for Alumni Relations), exceeded even the fondest hopes of Stefan Davis, the executive director of IUPUI's Office of Alumni Relations, SOAR's parent organization.

“It was such an all-encompassing event for a student organization to put together — I'm just amazed at how well things went,” Davis says. “What was especially exciting was how many relationships SOAR was able to build across the campus to make the day a good time for everyone.”

Laughter, good-natured competition and more than a few trips into the drink accompanied the six qualifying heats and the finals that eventually settled the final standings. The top three finishers were GBD (first place), the Jaguars Champions (second) and BUPUI (third).

The action left many paddlers shaking their heads at the level of skill it takes the tandem oarsmen (and oarswomen) to keep their boats on the straight and narrow. It also left many vowing to “practice like crazy” before next year's event in order to move up the ranks of top finishers.

Davis believes the event can become a model for other SOAR-run and student-organized events at IUPUI, continuing to fuel the growth in campus life.

“We've been looking for a signature event to bring together alumni, students, faculty and staff, and I think SOAR has found it for us,” he says. “All you had to do was look at the way Chancellor (Charles) Bantz felt at the Regatta to see how it all came together!”

The second annual event will be held Sept. 25, 2010, and already many of last year's competitors are plotting strategy — and practice sessions — to challenge all comers in the quest for the top prize.