On Saturday, June 6, some 75 rowing clubs around the country will open their doors to the public for National Learn to Row Day. This is the third year San Diego Rowing Club has participated at its location next to the Mission Bay Yacht Club on Santa Clara Point (turn off El Carmel Place in north Mission Beach). The day includes introductory coaching of the fundamentals of the stroke and basic drills used to coordinate movement.
San Diego Rowing Club will have sessions at 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. for those 18 and up. Each participant will have an opportunity to learn with use of the ergometer (rowing machine). Next is the prep stage on the apron and then on-the-water instruction. Rowers will clean the boats on return and enjoy a free coffee and tour of the Garty Family Rowing Pavilion.
According to organizers, the most common mistake of new rowers is “thinking that this is an upper-body heavy sport. It’s really mostly legs and back.” One specific error to avoid is “letting go of the oar and flipping the boat. You go swimming for a few minutes.”
The San Diego Rowing Club touts a venerable history, going back to the 1880s. From 1911 to 1963, nine of the sixteen San Diego mayors were members of the male-only club.
According to the Journal of San Diego History, “Men of stature and wealth as well as everyday laborers were members of the club and all rowed, laid about nude on the sun deck, played handball, basketball, and/or baseball together.”
In 1974, facing dwindling membership, the club opened membership to women. Until 1979 it was located on the bay where downtown’s Hilton Hotel now sits. This year the San Diego Rowing Club will have another day for kids aged 10–18, which is not yet set. Check sdrcjrs.com for updates.