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September 12th, 2012

Newburgh Rowing Club hosts Gig Boat Regatta

The Newburgh Rowing Club recently held its first annual Hudson River National Park Gig Boat Regatta. Pictured are Najib Portillo, Adrian Fuentes, and Richard Guerrero.
NEWBURGH - On September 8, 2012, the Hudson River became one of the first rivers to attain National Park status, and on September 9th, the Newburgh Rowing Club celebrated with the First Annual Hudson River National Park Gig Boat Regatta. This free event was a gig boat race among the Newburgh Rowing Club, the Rondout Rowing Club of Kingston, the Storm King Rowing Club and the “Building Bridges, Building Boats” Rowing Club of Cold Spring, NY.

First place went to the Cold Spring Club, comprised of Corbett Francis, Wylie McDonald, Nolan Shea, Cooper Nugent, and Cameron Henderson. The Newburgh Rowing Club took second, and Roundout took third.

“The athletes used Whitehall gig boats, the same boats that were used to ferry people and equipment across the Hudson and from ship to shore, from the time of the Revolutionary War until the Industrial Revolution,” said NRC Programs Director Ed Kennedy.

“We wanted to do something that would celebrate the National Park status and tie into the history of rowing on the Hudson River,” said Coach Kennedy. “The win by Cold Spring was well deserved.  These kids practiced for this race by rowing the entire length of the Hudson from Albany to Cold Spring this summer. They stopped over every night while they were rowing down the Hudson. One of the places they stayed was up at the Vassar Boathouse.”

When asked about the National Parks recognition, Coach Kennedy said, “Everyone in the Hudson Valley Rowing League is thrilled with this recognition. It means the chance for greater public access to the river, more people who are likely to come out and enjoy the parks we row out of, and a greater chance of getting grants to improve our physical sites.”

“Our best grant-based program to date has been the Student Ambassador Program,” said Coach Kennedy.  “That is the program where we give scholarships to students residing in the City of Newburgh who qualify for financial need, teach them to swim, so they can pass the US Rowing swim test, and then teach them to row. It has been wildly successful.”

One of the Kingston crews had the oldest participant in the meet, Rich McCormick, age 97. He and Coach Kennedy’s father coached against each other years ago. “It just goes to show,” said Kennedy, “Rowing really is a sport for life, and this Hudson River is a national treasure to be enjoyed by everyone.”
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