The Sproat Lake Regatta, far from being an offspring of the recent huge upsurge of interest in boats and water recreation, has a long and varied history dating back 80 years to mid-summer of 1928 when the first race was held on the lake.
While the Regatta was held each succeeding summer in a gradually expanding form, it was by no means certain that it was an “annual” event.  The 1929 running included races of up to 5 miles and boats up to 20 hp; the Sproat Lake Motor Boat Club was formed in June, 1930, with the object of sponsoring and expanding the event further.
The following five years saw the introduction of “racing hydroplanes”, including Douglas Stones justly famed Golden Arrow ll, one of the top contenders for honors on the coast and perhaps the best known of the local boats which have been front runners over the years.
The Regattas, swimming and water sports competitions and the dance which followed annually drew a large portion of the valley’s rather small population at the time.  But gradually the event felt the effects of the depression and went into the slump which finally killed it off after the 1935 competition.
First the depression and then the war years made the challenging roar of powerful engines, and the feast and frolic always associated with a regatta, nothing more than a warm memory for almost 20 years.
In 1953 the Sproat Lake Ratepayers’ Association, with Frank Flitton as chairman of the committee, saw the growing interest in boating and people with the urge to get out on the water with fast boats, and the Regattas were revived.
The Sproat Lake Ratepayers’ Association built the Regatta into something that shaped it into one of the top events in the Northwest.  They affiliated with the Canadian Boating Association and received official sanction for the event which meant that times set up during a competition would stand as national or international records.
This attracted more, larger and faster boats from the mainland and the U.S.  In 1958 Joe Van Bergen set a new Canadian record travelling over 69 mph in his 13 foot boat Sassy.
In 1959 the Regatta had grown so large the Sproat Lake Ratepayers’ Association decided they could no longer handle the work load so the Port Alberni Kinsmen Club took over the sponsorship of the Regatta.
The Regattas were successful but the organizers were getting tired.  While thousands came to see the races, swimming, and water sport activities, mayor Fred Bishop opened the last Regatta in 1962.
In 2013 a new group registered the “Alberni Valley Regatta Association” and sponsored a Boat Show and Shine plus an impromptu race on the Sunday followed by a Poker Run which proved to be very popular.  During the fall and winter this group applied for the use of the Sproat Lake provincial park (Smith Landing).

The regatta has continued to grow every year, and has become a succesful event once again. Thank you to all our volunteers and sponsers for making this free community event that draws spectators and racers from all over to the Alberni Valley possible.

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