The new rowing shells … stronger, more stable, easier to learn with Essay

“This is the rebirth of the whole recreational rowing
world,” says Gordon Nash, a boat builder in Sausalito. He’s
speaking of the new generation of rowing shells that are cutting sleek
wakes in northern California waterways. Stronger, wider, and more
stable than traditional racing shells, these fiberglass boats are a
synthesis of new materials, design concepts, and construction

Portable and easy to row, recreational shells are introducing
people to rowing in unprecedented numbers. Whether it’s sunny and
calm or overcast and windy, these new boats can propely you quickly
across rippled bays, along wide rivers and quiet estuary shores. For
cruising, shore camping, or aerobic workouts, they’re a pleasure to
row, not a chore.

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Sitting on a sliding seat and firmly gripping the wood or
fiberglass oars, you pace your strokes, moving at 4 to 5 knots while you
take in waterline views of bay islands, city waterfronts, bird and sea

Your arms, legs, heart, and lungs are put to work equally with each
stroke, so joint and muscle stress is minimized. This constant lower-
and upper-body workout is one of sculling’s greatest appeals and
has attracted many bicyclists and sore-kneed joggers to the sport.

Most people prefer single shells, but you can share the fun by
doubling up in a shell built for two. Closed airtight decks and
automatic bailers on some models make swamping virtually impossible. The
single and double shells are 16 to 24 feet long, weigh 47 to 135 pounds.
You can transport them on a cartop rack.

Learning to row smoothly usually takes just a few hours. Initially,
finesse matters more than strength as you learn arm and leg positioning
and sculling technique.

You’ll find classes in Sausalito and through clubs. Dealers
will let you try a shell on a nearby body of water. Once you’ve
got the knack, you can rent a shell in Mountain View, Sacramento, or
Sausalito, and race in competitive but friendly regattas. Lessons off

Open Water Rowing, 133 Cazneau Ave., Sausalito 94965; (415)
332-1091. Lessons on Richardson Bay using single shells, $17.50 per
hour, including boat rental. Open 9 to 3 Saturdays, 10 to 3 Sundays,
October through April; 6 to 8 P.M. Modays through Fridays, 8 to 5
Saturdays, 10 to 5 Sundays, May through September. Reservations are
required. For weekend and summer lessons, reserve one week in advance.

Sausalito Rowing Club, 416 Main St., Sausalito 94965; (415)
332-4920. Hourlong lessons for members only (see club listing, page 67)
on Richardson and San Francisco bays. Rentals, Bay Area and Sacramento

Back Yard Boat Shop, Sacramento; (916) 393-3620. Daily rentals on
Lake Natoma near Folsom, by reservation only, $10 per hour for single
shells. No deposit required if rowing on Lake Natoma. Take-away rental
requires $100 deposit; cartop rack is provided at no charge.

Open Water Rowing, 133 Cazneau Ave., Sausalito 94965; (415)
332-1091. Rentals by appointment only, $6 single and $10 double
weekdays, $8 single and $12 double weekends. Open 10 to 4 Thursdays
through Sundays, October through April; 10 to 6 Wednesdays through
Sundays rest of year. Deposit and lesson required (see listing above).

Spinnaker Sailing, Shoreline Park, 3160 Stierlin Rd., Mountain View
94043; (415) 965-7474. Rentals at the park’s 50-acre salt-water
lake start this month. Call for rates and hours. Join a club to work
out, race

If you decide to take up the sport, consider joining a club. Most
have boats and storage facilities, offer inexpensive or free
instruction, and sponsor regattas.

Alder Ocean Shell Association, 418 Tideway Dr., Alameda 94501; no
telephone. Regattas for Alden owners only. Write for flyer with race
dates. Membership is $27 to join, $5 per year; no boats at press time;
rowing on the Oakland Estuary.

North Bay Rowing Club, 2390 St., Petaluma 94952; (707) 762-1832.
Membership costs $50 to join, $100 per year. The club has two Small
Craft singles and a Small Craft double; it rows on the Petaluma River.

Sausalito Rowing Club, 416 Main St., Sausalito 94965; (415)

Membership is $75 to join, $5 per month. Club has a single and a
double Small Craft, an Alden double, and a Vancouver 21 single.
Membership, limited to Marin County residents is currently closed as the
club seeks more storage space, but should repoen by summer. The club
rows on Richardson and San Francisco bays.

The monthly California Open Water Rowing Newsletter lists regattas
in California (Northwest regattas will be listed this fall). Upcoming
races include Coyote Point Regatta, which opens the season March 10:
Open Ocean Regatta, April 14 off Sausalito; and a race from San
Francisco’s Aquatic Park to Sausalito, May 12. For a subscription
($10 per year), write to California Open Water Rowing Newsletter, Box
2923, Sacramento 25812. Dealers

All prices include oars and seats. Back Yard Boat Shop, Box
161792, Sacramento 95816; (916) 393-3620. Boats shown by appointment.
Graham single is $1,595, double $1,995. Also carries same boats as
Rowing Crafters, listed below. Demonstrations on Lake Natoma.

Christian Maas Boat Company, 2100 Clement Ave, Alameda 94501; (415)
865-5894. Open 8 to 6 Mondays through Fridays, weekends by appointment.

Vancouver 21 single costs $1,700. Demonstrations on the Oakland
Estuary. Nautical Specialties, 14361 Chapman Rd., San Leandro 94578;
(415) 357-4841.

Open 7:30 to 4 weekdays, weekends by appointment. Alden single is

Demonstrations on the Oakland Estuary. Rowing Crafters–Pacific
Rowing Center, 247 Gate Five Rd., Sausalito 94965; (415) 332-3577. Open
9 to 5 Mondays through Fridays, 10 to 3 most Saturdays. Little River
Sea Shell single is $1,545; Small Craft single is $1,495, double $2,400.
Used Alden shells, $800 to $1,500.

Demonstrations on Richardson Bay. Seabird Sailing Center, 80
Bolivar Dr., Berkeley 94710; (415) 548-3730. Open 10 to 5 Wednesdays
through Sundays. Laser single costs $1,495. Demonstrations at Aquatic
Park in Berkeley.

Sonoma Rowsports, Box 726, Penngrove 94951; (707) 763-3782. Boats
shown by appointment. Small Craft single is $1,495. Demonstrations on
the Petaluma River.


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