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

“This is the rebirth of the whole recreational rowingworld,” says Gordon Nash, a boat builder in Sausalito. He’sspeaking of the new generation of rowing shells that are cutting sleekwakes in northern California waterways. Stronger, wider, and morestable than traditional racing shells, these fiberglass boats are asynthesis of new materials, design concepts, and constructiontechniques. Portable and easy to row, recreational shells are introducingpeople to rowing in unprecedented numbers.

Whether it’s sunny andcalm or overcast and windy, these new boats can propely you quicklyacross rippled bays, along wide rivers and quiet estuary shores. Forcruising, shore camping, or aerobic workouts, they’re a pleasure torow, not a chore. Sitting on a sliding seat and firmly gripping the wood orfiberglass oars, you pace your strokes, moving at 4 to 5 knots while youtake in waterline views of bay islands, city waterfronts, bird and sealife. Your arms, legs, heart, and lungs are put to work equally with eachstroke, so joint and muscle stress is minimized. This constant lower-and upper-body workout is one of sculling’s greatest appeals andhas attracted many bicyclists and sore-kneed joggers to the sport. Most people prefer single shells, but you can share the fun bydoubling up in a shell built for two.

Closed airtight decks andautomatic bailers on some models make swamping virtually impossible. Thesingle 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 positioningand sculling technique.

You’ll find classes in Sausalito and through clubs. Dealerswill let you try a shell on a nearby body of water. Once you’vegot the knack, you can rent a shell in Mountain View, Sacramento, orSausalito, and race in competitive but friendly regattas. Lessons offSausalito Open Water Rowing, 133 Cazneau Ave., Sausalito 94965; (415)332-1091. Lessons on Richardson Bay using single shells, $17.

50 perhour, 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 5Saturdays, 10 to 5 Sundays, May through September. Reservations arerequired. 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 onLake Natoma near Folsom, by reservation only, $10 per hour for singleshells. No deposit required if rowing on Lake Natoma. Take-away rentalrequires $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 doubleweekdays, $8 single and $12 double weekends. Open 10 to 4 Thursdaysthrough Sundays, October through April; 10 to 6 Wednesdays throughSundays rest of year. Deposit and lesson required (see listing above). Spinnaker Sailing, Shoreline Park, 3160 Stierlin Rd.

, Mountain View94043; (415) 965-7474. Rentals at the park’s 50-acre salt-waterlake start this month. Call for rates and hours.

Join a club to workout, race If you decide to take up the sport, consider joining a club. Mosthave boats and storage facilities, offer inexpensive or freeinstruction, and sponsor regattas. Alder Ocean Shell Association, 418 Tideway Dr., Alameda 94501; notelephone.

Regattas for Alden owners only. Write for flyer with racedates. 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 SmallCraft singles and a Small Craft double; it rows on the Petaluma River. Sausalito Rowing Club, 416 Main St.

, Sausalito 94965; (415)332-4920. Membership is $75 to join, $5 per month. Club has a single and adouble Small Craft, an Alden double, and a Vancouver 21 single.Membership, limited to Marin County residents is currently closed as theclub seeks more storage space, but should repoen by summer. The clubrows on Richardson and San Francisco bays.

The monthly California Open Water Rowing Newsletter lists regattasin California (Northwest regattas will be listed this fall). Upcomingraces include Coyote Point Regatta, which opens the season March 10:Open Ocean Regatta, April 14 off Sausalito; and a race from SanFrancisco’s Aquatic Park to Sausalito, May 12. For a subscription($10 per year), write to California Open Water Rowing Newsletter, Box2923, Sacramento 25812. Dealers All prices include oars and seats. Back Yard Boat Shop, Box161792, Sacramento 95816; (916) 393-3620.

Boats shown by appointment.Graham single is $1,595, double $1,995. Also carries same boats asRowing 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 OaklandEstuary. Nautical Specialties, 14361 Chapman Rd., San Leandro 94578;(415) 357-4841. Open 7:30 to 4 weekdays, weekends by appointment. Alden single is$1,745. Demonstrations on the Oakland Estuary. Rowing Crafters–PacificRowing Center, 247 Gate Five Rd.

, Sausalito 94965; (415) 332-3577. Open9 to 5 Mondays through Fridays, 10 to 3 most Saturdays. Little RiverSea 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, 80Bolivar Dr.

, Berkeley 94710; (415) 548-3730. Open 10 to 5 Wednesdaysthrough Sundays. Laser single costs $1,495. Demonstrations at AquaticPark in Berkeley. Sonoma Rowsports, Box 726, Penngrove 94951; (707) 763-3782.

Boatsshown by appointment. Small Craft single is $1,495. Demonstrations onthe Petaluma River.

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