Sitting in the shadow of the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, Kristy Jacobs had the perfect view of a victory.
Jacob's son, Chris, was in an eight-man boat Saturday morning that was tearing up the Oklahoma River, while mom was on the shore shouting encouragement.
“This is his first race so I got to be loud,” she said. “I'm just proud of him for taking up a new sport and excelling at it. This is just such a fun atmosphere.”
Jacobs wasn't the only one cheering along the river as thousands turned up to watch friends and family compete in the Oklahoma Regatta Festival.
A cool breeze whipped the flags along the river's edge as rowers from across the country lifted their boats above their heads to carry them to the water.
Men's and women's crew teams from colleges competed in timed 4,000 meter races while other amateur rowers competed in solo and two-person competitions.
Jenny Holcomb, 34, watched her husband compete early Saturday, and she spent the rest of the day with her two young daughters playing in the children's area and walking through all the booths that vendors set up to sell food, clothing and other merchandise.
“I had no idea there was so much to do out here,” she said. “I thought we come out and watch the race and go home, but the kids' area is so much, and the kids have been playing, so I think we might just stay for the night races now.”
Adam Nizgoda said the regatta has been his favorite Oklahoma City event for the past couple of years.
Nizgoda, 28, said he remembers growing up with the river being an eyesore.
“The development of this area is just incredible,” he said. “That used to be just a big mud hole, and now look at what we have. This is truly a big-time event.”
While he's never gotten around to learning how to row, Nizgoda said he loves the area around the river for the bike trails.
“My friends and I come out here and just ride for hours,” he said. “One day I think I'll get around to learning how to row. I think everyone in Oklahoma City might one day.”