Announcements, Events, Outdoors, Sports

Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club to Celebrate 20 Years on June 17th

Photo: William McCrossan

The Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club is celebrating 20 years of fun on the water! We invite anyone interested in joining us for some fun rowing games and races on Bear Lake Saturday morning 10:00 a.m. on June 17th followed by a pot luck at the Branson Pavilion about 3:00 p.m. This is a fun row day and we encourage anyone that has never rowed, rowed just a little, hasn’t rowed in 20 years or just rowed last week to join us on the water and at the Pavilion!

Rowing is one of the oldest sports known to man and mention of it can be found as far back as Egyptian days. For most of the time it has been considered a male dominated sport. In fact, even though rowing was a part of the Olympics from as far back as 1896, it wasn’t until the Montreal Games of 1976 that women were allowed to compete, long after they had been permitted in other sports. None-the-less, women have been rowing since at least the 1800’s. In fact, a picture of a women’s double scull race made the cover of Harper’s Weekly magazine in 1870. In America, competitive rowing can be traced as far back as 1756 when a pettiauger (Boat with no keel) defeated a whaling boat in a New York race. for several years to come, New York would remain the central hub of rowing, probably because of the ferrymen who transported people across the Hudson River.

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Founded in 1997, the Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club is the oldest rowing club in Alaska.  KCRC began as a single ad posted on the Moose Pass Post Office community board in Dec 1996. The first meeting consisted of 4 interested women, and, although none had rowing experience, they decided to give it a try and the club was born.Two of the members began searching for equipment, and in Feb 1997 they located 2 used 8+’s at Gonzaga University. Through community donations, membership dues and a no interest loan by a club member, they raised $4500 to pay for both boats and a used set of blades. Transporting the boats to Alaska was a tag-team effort: Gonzaga trailered them to Seattle where a Kenai Fjords Tour Boat set them aboard and sailed them to Seward where they were then transferred onto a Carlile flatbed truck and hauled to  the Trail Lakes Hatchery and Kenai Lake.

That summer of 1997 we found our first coach and learned to row with Marietta “Ed” Anderson, now with Anchorage Rowing.  In mid-June Ed suggested we race in Seattle at the Green Lake Frostbite and the Lake Union Head of the Lake Regattas in November. We thought she was crazy, but she kept bringing it up until we decided maybe it wasn’t such a crazy idea after all! She even joked about us becoming famous and getting our picture on the cover of USRowing Magazine. We now had a goal and we were excited at the prospect. We spent the rest of the season perfecting our technique and conditioning. As Alaskans we were minor celebrities and although we weren’t on the cover, in Jan 1998 we were a story in the USRowing Magazine!

Anchorage Rowing Association came along not too long later and eventually, our club including members from Moose Pass, Cooper Landing, Seward, Kenai and Soldotna split into two clubs and Alaska Midnight Sun Rowing out of Kenai/Soldotna was formed.  With three clubs in Alaska we soon started our own regattas, the Moose Nugget in Wasilla and the Head of the Kenai on Kenai Lake.  In recent years we changed the HOTK to the Tail of the Bear on Bear Lake. The Crewsers have enjoyed the skills of many different Coaches with many different styles over the last twenty years and learned from them all. We now number in the 30’s, rowing several days a week. Our club participates in our two in-state regattas every summer and one out-of-state regatta every fall. We are a fun group of many different skill levels and abilities that love to row and enjoy the fun camaraderie and many physical health benefits that it brings. If anyone is interested in trying it out keep your eyes and ears open for our membership drive every spring.

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