Lightening on the Lake – the Sproat Lake Regatta

The Sproat Lake Regatta has been an exciting annual event for Port Alberni and Vancouver Island dating back almost a century to the summer of 1928 when the thrilling races first hit the water. Originally the drag boat event included boats with speeds up to 20 horsepower and races varied in distance up to 5 miles. Due to a lack of volunteers, the event was absent for nearly 50 years but made an incredible comeback in 2014 after The Sproat Lake Regatta Association came together to revive the event. The community was in full support to bring back the famous drag boat races and the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District even granted the Regatta Association a noise control exemption permit for the weekend event each year. Today, “Lightening on the Lake” happens every July and is best spectated from the Sproat Lake Provincial Park or from a boat in the area. A weekend is a family-friendly event (bring ear protection for small children!) with performances and watersport competitions in addition to the races.

Home to Canadian speed boating record

Sproat Lake and the Regatta is also home to a Canadian speed boating record set in 1963 by Joe Van Bergen who was a long-time Regatta volunteer and Port Alberni resident. The record was set by Joe in his boat “Sassy” and stands true to this day. Sassy hasn’t been the only extremely fast boat to hit the waters of Sproat Lake; each year the event holds quarter-mile races for boats ranging from 10 horsepower all the way up to 260 horsepower. Every year the Regatta showcases immaculate and over-the-top boats with their owners cruising and parading around the lake for viewers entertainment. Some honourable mentions in the past include Formula One Tunnel Boats and a Top Fuel Hydro which is capable of reaching speeds up to 200mph. Racers attend the event from all over Canada and beyond to get their fix of adrenaline, comradery and spend a peak weekend on the beautiful waters we are so blessed to have part of our community.

Event Revival

Since the revival, spectator and race attendance has been steadily increasing each year as the sport gains traction after many years at rest. The largest attendance recorded for the event took place between 1953 and 1963, where over 5000 people came out to watch and show support for the 200+ racers each year. The Sproat Lake Regatta has no doubt that the event will build up to host that many, if not more racers and valuable spectators in the future. The event could not be possible without the dedication of the Sproat Lake Regatta Association and many volunteers.

This Years Event

The Dave Koszegi Group has been a proud and major sponsor of the event for over 20 years. Supporting local family-friendly events is a top priority for Dave and motorized objects that go extremely fast have always held a special spot in his life. This year’s event will take place on July 8/9, we look forward to seeing you there!

Written by: Stephanie Wakelin