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Nassau RC promotes national development of rowing with gift to Skullers RC in Exuma
By Kyle Chea
Sep 16, 2020 - 3:55:14 PM

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The Helen T in action on Lake Cunningham (2018)

Nassau Rowing Club gifted one of its first boats to Skullers Rowing Club in The Ferry, Little Exuma to develop their nascent youth program. The Helen T, a 45-foot long rowing boat made by Vespoli USA in Connecticut, holds four rowers and a coxswain, and can be configured for sweep rowing (each rower has one oar) or sculling (each rower has two oars).

Nassau RC President Kyle Chea remembered when the Helen T arrived in Nassau in 2013: “We raised $6,000 to pay for shipping from Virginia; larger rowing boats exceed standard container measurements, so shipping from the US is more expensive and is a huge barrier to entry for our sport. That said, as the Nassau RC fleet grows, we’re so happy we can help our sister program develop and continue supporting rowing at a grassroots level, especially in the Family Islands.”

Skullers RC, established in 2015, focuses on training 20 students and adults in coastal rowing. The club maintains a fleet of 5 coastal sculling boats, which are wider and heavier than fine rowing boats in order to handle rougher water conditions. The Helen T will be their first fine rowing boat, and will help the squad prepare to race fine boats in international regattas.

Skullers RC President and Head Coach Michael Knowles is excited about the new arrival: “It’s a great moment for our club. While we are primarily a coastal club we have always recognized the need for a more varied fleet to provide the best training environment possible. We have immense talent here in our little community, and the Helen T represents a significant step toward the next level of development.”

The Helen T landed in Exuma

As the bonds between the two clubs grow, plans are underway for more regattas and cross-training opportunities between New Providence and Exuma. Skullers RC has already hosted an intra-squad coastal regatta in June 2020, and Nassau RC plans to host 1,500m and 2,000m sprint courses on Lake Cunningham, following guidance from the relevant authorities later this year.

The cancellation of such headlining competitions as the Miami International Regatta and the Head of the Charles Regatta due to COVID-19 has spurred the two clubs to become more creative within Bahamian borders. Nassau RC Head Coach and Program Director KariAnne Kulig explained, “Historically, NRC Juniors and Masters have had to travel to the States to compete. With the growth of Skullers RC in Exuma, we can expand our range and depth of racing experience, encourage friendships between athletes, and build a base for the strongest national team possible. Michael and I are building a domestic regatta calendar here in The Bahamas. We are already a top tourist destination - why not make it a top rowing destination, too?”

The growth in rowing over the past eight years since Nassau RC’s inception has not gone unnoticed, either. Romell Knowles, President of the Bahamas Olympic Committee commended the progress, saying, “We are excited about the opportunity for rowing in The Bahamas, and in particular, this great collaboration between Nassau RC and Skullers RC. The future for rowing in The Bahamas is bright. We have already produced one Olympic athlete, and we look forward to producing more through these kinds of initiatives and kind gestures among members of the rowing community. I would like to congratulate both clubs and wish them very well in their endeavours.”

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