BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Cow Island Classic kicked off on the Androscoggin River Saturday.

Organizers call it the largest rowing regatta ever held in Maine.

There were two events: a 5K race around Cow Island and a 1K sprint.

Organizers said they saw a bigger turnout this year because it's earlier, and the regatta has a new affiliation as the Maine State Championship. The rower who wins both events will be named Maine State Champion.

Merrymeeting Community Rowing Association, which hosts the event, said a public regatta like this brings more attention to the sport.

"Our mission is to educate both youth and adults about rowing," said program director Anna Jordan. "We have a fledging youth rowing group, high school students and we are really looking forward to having more students come on.

"We're really excited that this is the largest ever turnout for a regatta in Maine. We have 67 athletes and they're rowing from 15 different clubs. Those clubs are as far away as Philadelphia, and they represent — expect for Vermont — all of New England."

Congratulations to John Tunnicliffe — he was the winner of the Cow Island Classic.