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Rowing Pad Q&A: East Bay Rowing Club Director Caroline Cahill
One of the best parts about selling rowing pads is getting to know the rowers we meet and the ways our products have made a difference in their practice—on the erg, in the boat, and often, both. We recently worked with East Bay Rowing Club on a group order for boat and erg pads personalized with the EBRC logo and individual rowers’ names. The members made an immediate impression on our crew with their cheerfulness and passion for the Oakland-based rowing organization. Once we learned more about EBRC’s special mission to expand access to rowing and its efforts to promote inclusivity in the sport, we knew we had to help shine a spotlight on this standout club.
GET TO KNOW: East Bay Rowing Club
Based in: Oakland, California
Program director: Caroline Cahill
Rowing Pad: How many members does East Bay Rowing Club currently have?
Caroline Cahill: EBRC offers both masters and juniors rowing programs. Our masters team races under East Bay Rowing Club and has about 160 members. Our junior rowing program is open to all Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) students and races under the team Oakland Tech Rowing (OT Rowing). We have about 50 juniors who represent 4 OUSD high schools.
RP: Does the club have a mission or motto?
CC: We’re the home of community rowing in Oakland and the East Bay. We value the rich diversity of the communities we serve and aspire to provide a sense of belonging.
RP: Sounds like a special place. What is the vibe at the boathouse?
CC: We have both competitive and recreational rowing teams, so we like to have fun AND go fast!
RP: How long have you personally been involved with EBRC?
CC: I initially joined EBRC as a rower for our women’s competitive team in 2017. I started having more of an interest in helping the organizational capacity of EBRC and OT Rowing, so I joined as program director in August of this year .
RP: They are lucky to have you. Tell us a little about rowing on the Oakland Estuary.
CC: In beautiful California, we’re lucky to be able to row on the water all year round! The Oakland Estuary is also a commercial waterway, and the Coast Guard is one of our neighbors. That means we occasionally get to see Coast Guard cutters making their way to the ocean. The wildlife is also special—we’ll row beside sea lions, pelicans, and egrets.
RP: What advice do you commonly give to people who are just learning to row?
CC: The boat and oars know what to do, so just take a deep breath, hold on, use your legs, and let the boat be a boat. Also, everyone should be engaging and strengthening their pelvic floor—it is not only important for the health of all individuals, but especially important for rowers to protect their low back and maintain core connection from the catch to the finish. So do your kegels!
RP: Who makes up the coaching staff at EBRC?
CC: We have coaches who have been involved in rowing their entire lives. Rowing is truly a sport where you can foster a lifelong commitment. Our coaches have everything from junior, college, and national team rowing and coaching experience. We’re lucky to have such dedicated individuals who wish to inspire and give back to rowing through community programs and learn-to-rows.
RP: EBRC held a first-time regatta this year called Boats Without Barriers. How did it go?
CC: Boats Without Barriers was such a special regatta! We’re thrilled to be able to say it will now be an annual event. Boats Without Barriers: Out in the Bay Regatta—that’s the official name—took place for the first time on Saturday, August 20, 2022, celebrating being out in the Bay.
EBRC developed this regatta to boycott USRowing’s Masters National Championships, which was scheduled to take place in Florida. Attending Florida-based events, as long as the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law remains in effect, is at odds with the EBRC mission—to make the sport of rowing accessible and welcoming to anyone who is interested, regardless of identity. BWB was such an amazing success. We had teams from all over California and independent rowers races. DC Strokes, the first LGBQT+ rowing club in the U.S., also made the trip out from Washington, D.C., to race and support our mission.
RP: Incredible. Any other programs or events people should know about?
CC: Every year we hold our annual OT Rowing Erg-a-thon, which raises funds to make junior rowing accessible to all Oakland public school students. The money goes toward scholarships, covering race fees, uniforms, and equipment for our junior rowing program. Our junior program is one of three public school rowing programs on the West Coast, and we have the lowest participation fees of all rowing clubs west of the Mississippi. People can still donate to our GoFundMe page [donate here], and we are listed on corporate matching websites Benevity and CyberGrants.
RP: What do you personally love about the sport of rowing?
CC: I love that rowing can be a part of your life from high school through your 80s or beyond. I love that you can always chase getting more technically proficient or faster. And I love that you can make lifelong friends through your teammates!
RP: Agreed, with all three! Before we say goodbye, we must know: How are Rowing Pad’s boat and erg pads making a difference for the EBRC members?
CC: Personally, I have a short torso and long femurs, so Rowing Pad’s boat pads have really helped me get a bit more body angle as I move into the catch position. Also, I had reconstructive hip surgery, so this helps as my range of motion starts to decline as I get a bit older and creakier. Rowing Pad’s boat pads are extremely durable and long-lasting, which is so important because we row on saltwater, which destroys just about everything. I have seen a huge improvement in our masters rowers who use the boat pads in their increased catch angles and being able to sit up more effectively from their pelvis.
To learn more about East Bay Rowing Club or to support its efforts, visit www.eastbayrowingclub.org.