Niantic Marina Welcomes CT Rowing Club

Photos/SECRC Rowing

For the first few months after launching their fledgling rowing club, Clai White and head instructor Tyler Page faced hours of prep work before they could even get on the water. Then, at the end of the day, they had to de-rig the shells, load them onto a trailer and transport them back to a storage site.

Photo/New England Boating

That was before White met Tobey and Libby Russ, the owners of Three Belles Marina in Niantic. The Russ’s offered White the use of their facility—which has its own ramp and docks on Smith Cove, just off the Niantic River—as a home base for his club and a place to launch and store the shells. “I figure they saved me at least 2 hours a day in extra work,” says a grateful White, founder of the Southeastern Connecticut Rowing Club (SECRC). “Plus, the Niantic River is ideal for rowing. It’s long and straight, and well protected.”

White, who has rowed competitively for 12 years and coached for 3 years, started SECRC in May 2011 as way to get middle-school kids involved in rowing, and training advanced rowers to compete at a collegiate and national level. “I wanted to bring rowing to areas that didn’t have it,” he says. Eventually, White hopes to introduce an adult rowing program, as well as an outreach program that would give inner-city kids a chance to experience rowing.

To get started, White self-financed the purchase of several rowing shells and “called in favors” to obtain others. He also acquired used shells, some in questionable shape. “Let’s just say I got pretty good at carbon-fiber repair,” he laughs, adding that he has also received generous support from other rowing clubs along the coast.

In its first summer, SECRC attracted 60 kids, and is currently gearing up for its fall session, which will run into late November. In a major coup, SECRC will also field a team in this year’s Head of the Charles Regatta, which should bring more attention to the club.

“I’d actually like to start our own regatta on the Niantic,” says White, who envisions a fun community event where spectators raft up along the course to watch the races. “So far, feedback from the local boating community has been fantastic. I even had a guy ask if he could watch us train.”

That’s no problem, of course, and if you want to see what SECRC is all about you can find them most afternoons on the Niantic River. If you’d like more information on the club, including how to enroll, contact White at (203-558-8907) or CLICK HERE for the website.

Watch 2 videos on boating in Niantic!

  • For a Video QuickTour: Niantic, CT, CLICK HERE.
  • To watch the video Protecting the Niantic River, CLICK HERE.

 

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