Celebrating five years on the water, the Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association will hold a National Learn To Row Day session on Saturday, June 5 from 9 a.m. to noon.
The event, sponsored by U.S. Rowing, is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the exciting and fast-growing sport. Kevin Sixbey, president and co-founder of CLRA, said that rowing is often considered the ''sport for the non-athlete.''
''You don't need to be able to throw a ball, you don't have to coordinate dribbling - we'll teach you everything you need, we'll bring the equipment,'' Sixbey said. ''There's definitely a lot of tricky stuff to rowing, but it's easy enough that we can put you in and have you able to do just about anything that anyone else is doing within a couple of practices.''
The Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association will hold a National Learn To Row Day session on Saturday, June 5 from 9 a.m. to noon. On land training will include work with a “dock box,” a contraption that Kevin Sixbey, CLRA president and co-founder, said has been built to better simulate the feeling of being inside a boat while still staying on dry land.
Anyone who attends the Learn To Row Day on June 5 can get the added benefit of those couple of practices right away - follow-up sessions with CLRA on Tuesday, June 8, and Friday, June 11, are included at no additional cost.
Sixbey said that the Saturday morning session on Learn To Row Day will be jammed full of information for those who are interested in joining the club, which currently contains about 60 active members. After a conversation about safety, attendees will learn the basics about how to handle themselves in a rowing shell.
Potential members first learn on land with the help of indoor rowing machines called ergometers - described by Sixbey as ''the stationary bike of rowers.''
''Those simulate rowing almost perfectly,'' Sixbey said. ''The only thing you don't get is the wobbliness of the boat, and you don't go anywhere.''
After the learners have gotten the feel of rowing from the ergometer, they will move to the next station. There, they will sit in something called a ''dock box,'' a contraption that Sixbey said has been built to better simulate the feeling of being inside a boat while still staying on dry land.
''We set it down on the dock, and we actually put an oar out in the water,'' Sixbey said. ''We have a sliding seat, and we have an oar attached to a rigger, and now you can actually feel how the oar moves through the water - but you still get to do it with the stability of being on the dock.''
From there, the transition into the water is next. Six learners will get into a shell with two experienced rowers and a coxswain, and each crew will travel about 5,000 meters up the Chadakoin and on Chautauqua Lake - about half the normal distance traveled during a CLRA practice.
Sixbey, as one of five co-founders of the club, said he is especially excited about this Learn To Row Day. Marking five years since the first event - one which brought out between 30 and 40 interested people, he said - Sixbey feels this milestone proves that CLRA, whose members compete in regattas across the state and region, has truly made it.
''Five years is a great mark,'' Sixbey said, adding that the club began with borrowed equipment from Mercyhurst College and now owns six shells and two coaching vessels of its own. ''If you listen to the business gurus, they say it takes three to five years to determine if a business is going to make it, and a club is in many aspects a business.''
Registration will be limited to between 12 and 18 rowers for the June 5 National Learn To Row Day event. Subsequent, more informal, Learn To Row Days will be held later this summer on July 10 and Aug. 14. The events are geared toward the inexperienced, so all are welcome.
Cost for participation is $10 for students and $20 for adults. For more information or to sign up, call coach Steve Odrzywolski at 913-2409 or visit www.rowchautauqua.org.
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