The Sproat Lake Regatta is returning in 2022 after a two-year absence. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

The Sproat Lake Regatta is returning in 2022 after a two-year absence. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Sproat Lake Regatta returns to Vancouver Island lake after two-year COVID-19 break

Formula 1 racers return to Island waters for first time since 2015

The Sproat Lake Regatta will be returning to the Alberni Valley after a two-year absence.

During a meeting on April 13, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District granted the Alberni Valley Regatta Association a noise control exemption permit for three days in July so that they can host their annual “Lightning on the Lake” boat races.

The Sproat Lake Regatta was revived in 2014 after a more than 50-year absence in the Alberni Valley. The event sees two days of boat races at Sproat Lake Provincial Park.

However, the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent health orders pulled the plug on the 2020 event, which regatta president Aaron Weisgerber said was “about 80 percent” organized. The club tentatively planned to host an event in 2021, but this was also cancelled as COVID-19 cases spiked again.

Now, in 2022, Weisgerber says it’s full steam ahead. The association has consulted with BC Parks and prepared a COVID-19 Safety Plan for the event, which will take place July 8-10.

“We hope to have a good attendance this year,” said Weisgerber. “And we hope to get more people interested in this sport.”

This year, said Weisgerber, the regatta will see the return of Formula One race boats.

“That will be quite entertaining,” said Weisgerber. “We haven’t had those since 2015 or so.”

The 2022 event will also be dedicated to the memory of Joe Van Bergen, who passed away earlier this year. Van Bergen was a long-time regatta volunteer, and set a Canadian speed boating record in 1963.

The actual race days will be on Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10, although set-up and testing will take place on the Friday. A show ‘n shine event is also scheduled for Friday, although a location has not been determined yet.

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Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictPORT ALBERNI