Viking Regatta Weekend 2009 in St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Fla.

The award-winning Gateway to Florida Lodge in Jacksonville, Fla. invites you to join them for the popular and competitive Viking Regatta in historic St. Augustine from March 20-22.

Viking Regatta. Photo from Norway Times archives.

This fun-filled weekend that starts Friday evening with a welcome wine tasting at the San Sebastian Winery, followed by the regatta on March 21. A casual and friendly reception will follow, catered by renowned Norwegian chef Willie Hansen and awards at the St. Augustine Rod and Gun Club. The weekend will conclude on March 22 in Jacksonville with a performance by Norwegian pianist Knut Erik Jensen, who performs the works of great Norwegian composers in concert at St. Marks Evangelical Lutheran Church.

While in St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest and most charming city, visitors can stroll the streets of the delightful historic district with its cobblestone streets, quaint cafes and unique shops. A Welcome Wine Tasting at the San Sebastian Winery is scheduled Friday at 3:30 p.m., located in the historic East Coast Railway Building. A hospitality room at the Days Inn will be from 5 – 7 p.m. Visitors can select from a wide range of restaurants for dinner, many within walking distance. Prior to the race Saturday, visitors can enjoy lunch on the patio of the White Lion Inn directly across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine’s Spanish Fort built in the late 1600s.

The Viking boats will launch from the boat ramp at 12:30 p.m. and proceed to the Fort. The Captain’s meeting will be at 2 p.m. at the docking platform in front of the Fort, followed by the Viking Regatta in the bay directly in front of the Fort on the Matanzas River. There will be two preliminary heats with men’s (mixed) crews and a women’s race followed by the men’s final race. The Regatta is open to the public with no admission charge.

The Happy Hour with assorted Scandinavian appetizers at the historic St. Augustine Rod and Gun Club will begin at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. We will be in the Gun Club’s Range House overlooking the estuary of the North River just north of St. Augustine. Please dress casually. Celebrated Norwegian Chef Willie Hansen will prepare the dinner with an extensive Scandinavian menu. Æbleskivers and krumkaker will be served for dessert. Assorted beverages will be provided. The evening will conclude with recognition and awards to the winning teams, remarks from Sons of Norway International President Dan Rude and other SON dignitaries. Reservations with payment must be received by March 17.

For our out-of-town guests planning to stay in St. Augustine Friday/Saturday or Sunday nights, rooms are reserved at the Historic Days Inn, 1300 N. Ponce DeLeon Boulevard, St. Augustine, FL, 32084 with a rate of $75 plus tax per night. These are non-smoking rooms. Call the Days Inn directly at 904-824-3383 for reservations and request the Sons of Norway group rate. They will hold this group of rooms for SON until March 13. They will provide extra parking for the Viking boats. Other hotels are nearby but we do not have a rate.

Continue to enjoy St. Augustine Sunday morning and close out the Regatta weekend Sunday afternoon with a unique cultural experience at St. Marks Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3976 Hendricks Avenue, Jacksonville at 3 p.m. Famed Norwegian pianist Knut Erik Jensen from Trondheim will perform the works of Norway’s greatest composers with a reception to follow in the Fellowship Hall. A free-will offering will be taken and CDs of Jensen’s work will be available for sale.

For Regatta questions call Eugene Yerkes at 904-268-9924 or Eric Nord at 904-699-0460. For the special events, contact Kent Larson at 904-260-4064. Check these web sites for additional information: www.sonjax.com, www.sansebastianwinery.com and www.augustine.com.

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