The Los Gatos Rowing Club
John Martin

Rowing club photos

The Los Gatos Rowing Club was started in 1978 to provide access for young people in the Santa Clara Valley for what was then mostly an eastern sport. In the past twenty years, over 2000 children from fifteen different schools have participated in the program. Many participants have gone to colleges and universities to row competitively.

Rowing is a great sport. It demands mental and physical fitness and the ability to work together as a team.

In 1994, the boathouse was destroyed by an arsonist. Without missing a season, a highly motivated group of parents and coaches built a temporary boathouse of storage containers while they acquired loans, grants and donations. Within two years, the land, building and boats had been acquired and were ready for use.

Many of the parents and other interested adults joined the club during the rebuilding period, swelling the adult membership from 17 to over 175 in 18 months. These adults form a nucleus of support for the club, donating their time and efforts to keep the club running. Additionally, many have taken up the sport of rowing.

We started a program called "U-Row-Girl" in 1997. The objective was twofold. First, to introduce girls to rowing who could otherwise not afford it. Secondly, to expose girls from various economic and ethnic backgrounds to a team experience. It involved girls from Saint Andrew’s School in Saratoga and Luther Burbank Middle School in San Jose. The program was run by two of our adult members, and coached by teenagers in the regular rowing program. It was a great success.

We held a second program in 1999 for a group from Luther Burbank school. Channel 11 came out and did a short segment on it. Again, it was very successful.

The year 2001 saw the beginning of a relationship with The Foundry School. This is an alternative school for kids at risk with police records, or who have been truant from school. The school holds a special program in the summer for students who want a physical and environmental challenge. The kids who become part of this group have to apply to the program and sign a contract to join. They spend two to three full days with the rowing club and receive comprehensive rowing instructions. At the end of each day there is a "processing session" with our club members (both juniors and masters) to express what rowing meant to them and what they learned about themselves through the activity. The relationship with The Foundry School has been valuable for us. We repeated the program with The Foundry School in 2002.

The Los Gatos Rowing Club is a California non-profit (501c3) corporation. With the exception of coaches and program director whom we pay, volunteers do the work.

If you go to our Web site you can get more information on the club and it members. We currently have 125 children in our junior program and over 90 adults in our masters program. Over half of the members are women. We offer both recreational rowing and competitive rowing. Our hard-core competitive rowers compete on the national level. We are members of US Rowing and are guided by their bylaws and policies. Most rowers practice on Wednesday and Friday from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. We also have practices on Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 12 noon. We practice every day except Thursday.

The rowing club owns an impressive fleet of boats: ten Kaschper/8+, two Vespoli/8+, seven Kaschper/4+, two Kaschper/quads, two Kaschper/doubles, four Maas/singles and two Owens/singles. The 8+ and the 4+ are sweep shells with each rower using one oar. The quads and doubles are sculling shells that require the rower to use two oars. The Kaschper 8+ usually costs around $25,000. The Vespoli 8+ costs more than $30,000. As you can see, we have a lot invested in capital equipment, including the boathouse, launches, training equipment (ergs/weights), dock and maintenance.

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