BRONX, N.Y., June 4, 2003 -- Sleek racing shells will glide down the 150-year old "Speedway" race course along the Harlem River Drive at the inaugural New York Rowing Association (NYRA) Championship Regatta and Festival on Saturday, June 7, 2003 at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx.
(See also Rowing in New York - A History
The Empire State Rowing Association (ESRA) and Roberto Clemente State Park are proud to host this event, which will feature local club, high school and Masters (over age 27) rowers competing in 2,000, 1,500 and 1,000-meter races, respectively, as well as a race for Whitehall-class boats. The racing will commence at 7:20 a.m. sharp and last until 1:00 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to all first place finishers.
The regatta festivities include a Festival boat flotilla down the Harlem River, as well as boat rides for spectators in the afternoon. The New York Rowing Association Championship Regatta and Festival will conclude at 4:00 p.m.
A series of off-the-water activities at Roberto Clemente State Park will round out the regatta and festival. These include an exhibit of historic images of the Harlem River, sponsored by the Harlem River Valley Development Corporation and the Harlem River Conservancy; music; a "throwback" baseball game, in which players abide by century-old baseball rules; a "Growing with Rowing" workshop to introduce youngsters to the sport of rowing; and a variety of Victorian-era street games which were popular at the turn of the century.
For competitive rowers, the regatta kicks off the Summer rowing season and provides a chance to compete for bragging rights in the tri-state area. It also serves as a showcase for those interested in learning more about the sport of rowing.
One of America's fastest growing lifetime sports, rowing is both an indoor and an outdoor activity. It is often called a perfect exercise because it provides a low-impact, aerobic workout that improves circulation, promotes endurance, reduces body fat and relieves stress. In addition, rowing is the only sport that simultaneously develops the upper body, abdominals, lower back and legs, increasing strength and power.
The sport of rowing has deep roots in New York City, and in the Harlem River in particular. One hundred years ago, New York was a center for rowing enthusiasts. Prior to the widespread popularity of baseball, football and basketball, rowing was one of the most popular spectator sports. Thousands of New Yorkers crowded the edges of "The Speedway" (now known as the Harlem River Drive) to cheer local clubs competing in rowing regattas. New York City rowing clubs -- as many as 31 in 1905 -- produced national, international and Olympic champions.
The sport of rowing began to decline in New York by the mid-twentieth century, due to increased development of the Harlem shoreline and the exodus from the city of the prospering immigrants that founded the local clubs. Rowing on the Harlem continued through local universities and a few remaining clubs. The Harlem's last publicly-accessible boathouse, a lavish Victorian-style structure, succumbed to fire in 1978.
Rowing on the Harlem began to rebound in the 1980s, spurred by the fitness boom and the success of U.S. rowing teams at the 1984 Olympics. In the 1990s, rowing benefited from a surge in women's collegiate rowing programs as a result of NCAA status and Title IX requirements, and from the national urban movement to recapture the waterfront for recreational purposes.
Established in 1985, the Empire State Rowing Association, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing the sport of rowing to New Yorkers. Since 1987, ESRA has been operating from a temporary facility in Roberto Clemente State Park on the Harlem River.
Established in 1866 as the Harlem Regatta Association, the New York Rowing Association is a voluntary organization of rowing clubs located in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Its purpose is to coordinate, promote, sponsor and attend regional regattas hosted by New York Rowing Association member clubs; to strengthen and grow masters rowing at the club level; to host and sponsor an annual regatta; and to establish a mutual aid and information network among New York Rowing Association clubs.
The NYRA, consisting of 18 rowing clubs in the tri-state area, is dedicated to the continued growth of New York's proud rowing tradition through staging and promoting rowing events that are exciting, safe and fun. ESRA, like its fellow NYRA members, continues to make rowing available to local New Yorkers through competitive, recreational and outreach rowing programs such as the Growing With Rowing program for Bronx youths, which introduces local middle school students and their teachers to the Olympic sport of rowing on Saturday mornings at Roberto Clemente State Park.
Roberto Clemente State Park is a 25-acre waterfront park located along the Harlem River in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. Opened in 1973 as the first major urban State Park in the United States, today it is one of seven State Parks located in New York City. The Park offers year-round recreational, educational and cultural programs, special events and community services. It is located at West Tremont Avenue and Matthewson Road in the Bronx. For directions, call 718-299-8750.
For more information on the New York Rowing Association Championship Regatta, call 917-865-3055 or send an email to email@example.com