The Perfect Father’s Day Gift: On the Water with Dad

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift: On the Water with Dad

Our annual Father’s Day listing of great races to head to with your dad this summer continues for 2019, though this year we’ve added a few new ways to share in the excitement of rowing with the guy who raised you.

We may be (just a bit) biased, but in our opinion quality father-child bonding time doesn’t get much better than sharing in the energy and excitement of a day spent watching live competitive rowing. This time of year, the New England region is chock-full of prestigious, well-run events along some truly scenic waterways, not to mention some major annual events taking place a bit farther afield.

Why not enjoy a memorable family day at one of the 9 summer regattas and rowing events we’ve rounded up below? Combine your outing with a special Father’s Day gift for your rowing patriarch: a new boat or erg pad. This year you can make him the envy of his boat club with one of RowingPad’s brand-new boat pads featuring Anti-Slip Technology. Already a trusty tool among some of today’s top professional rowers, the pads have a slip-resistant coating that provides stability even in wet or extra cold conditions. If you’re shopping for a regular erg user, you can’t beat the quality and design of our ErgPads, available in several densities and with or without comfort cutouts.

1) June 15: The Schuylkill Navy Regatta
Philadelphia, PA

Stroll back in time as you check out the 15 boathouses, all at least a century old and home to the member clubs of the Schuylkill Navy, that make up historic Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River. The iconic racing river is undergoing a massive dredging effort this summer to ensure it continues to be a viable waterway for rowing. Though this early summer race is lower profile than some of the other annual fixtures that take place here (see regatta No. 2 on our list), it is rich with America’s rowing heritage and set in Philadelphia’s stunning Fairmount Park.

2) June 28, 29, and 30: The Independence Day Regatta
Philadelphia, PA

Make a pre-Fourth of July pilgrimage to the birthplace of the nation—and the birthplace of American rowing. This annual regatta, one of several hosted by the Schuylkill Navy, dates back to the 1880s and figures prominently in the rich history of the sport in the U.S. What was originally called “the People’s Regatta” has grown into a major competition featuring upwards of 1,000 boats and numerous ancillary activities, including a College Expo for rising seniors. Book a nearby hotel and spend a few beautiful summer mornings along the historic Schuylkill River before setting out for afternoon adventures around Philadelphia with your own crew.

3) July 3–7: Henley Royal Regatta
Henley-on-Thames, UK

Bring your patriotic spirit across the Pond for a last-minute July Fourth escape to this most storied of rowing events. A milestone celebration for the truly passionate lifelong rower, a trip to England for this annual international regatta, which features more than 200 races, can’t be beat. Remember to pack your pinstripes (the dress code remains quite strict) and prepare to soak in all of the wonderfully quaint riverside rowing tradition.

4) July 9 to July 14: USRowing National Championships
Bethel, OH

If your family includes teenagers or college students who are at all interested in racing, make the trip to Harsha Lake in Ohio for this steadily growing summer regatta that showcases the most talented under 17, under 19, intermediate, senior and elite athletes in the country. This year the regatta will expand to 6 days and has dropped “Club” from the title moving forward to reflect the re-integration of elite-level race categories. Stay in Cincinnati, just 25 miles from the lake, for the weekend—the small city might surprise you with all that’s new and cool to see there (for ideas, check out this article).

5) July 13: USRowing Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Masters Regional Championships
Lowell, MA

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are some of the most active in the country’s rowing community, so this Masters level championship is sure to feature some excellent racing. The Bellegarde Boathouse at UMass Lowell, the home base for the action, is perched right on the Merrimack River in Lowell Heritage State Park with views of the entire course from the shoreline—a great setting for a day of spectating, picnicking, and riverside sunsets.

Share an old-timey racing day with Dad at the South End Rowing Club’s Wooden Boat Classic Regatta in San Francisco.

6) July 27: Wooden Boat Classic Regatta
San Francisco, CA

Surprise Dad with a West Coast excursion to a beloved throwback rowing event at the South End Rowing Club’s Wooden Boat Classic. The San Francisco Bay-based club, founded in 1873, maintains a fleet of over 30 boats, including wooden rowboats and Whitehulls, some of which are 100 years old. Enjoy the scene of wooden boat enthusiasts rowing against a backdrop of Alcatraz Island, then tour the South End boathouse, which displays out-of-service wooden shells from years past, including Pocock boats, which your pops may have read about in the book The Boys in the Boat (another fantastic Father’s Day gift idea), about the University of Washington’s journey to the 1936 Olympics.

7) August 3: Narragansett Boat Club Sweeps & Sculls
Providence, RI

Planning for a Brown crew alumnus? Check out the NBC’s annual Sweeps & Sculls regatta, an accessible, centrally located event to plan a family day around. This Rhody rowing club has a fascinating history (which you can read on its website) that will intrigue any passionate rower. The boathouse is perched right on the edge of the Seekonk River, in the Blackstone Park recreation area and upriver of the Brown boathouse. Graduates of that Ivy League rowing program can attest to the Seekonk’s strong currents and choppy waves—any race on this course is sure to be fun to watch.

8) Ongoing, Indoor Rowing Classes
Locations Near You

Maybe your dad is less of an on-water rower and more into the ergometer. Join forces for the day (or make a commitment to meet up for a weekly class) and motivate each other for a personal best. Indoor rowing studios across the country offer first-rate instruction from experienced rowers along with innovative ways to get your muscles pumped and your mind focused. In the New England region, we love Power Rowing, in Brookline, Massachusetts, right outside Boston, which offers a great assortment of straight rowing and combo classes. (Read our interview with Power Rowing’s inspirational founder, Bryan Fuller.) Bonus: You can scoop up a new RowingPad for Dad at the studio to add some extra comfort to his workouts.

9) June – August: Community Rowing Inc. Programs
Brighton and Auberdale, MA

For an on-water, hands-on experience for Dad and the whole family, take your rowing enthusiasm to the boats! Organizations like the excellent Community Rowing Inc. out of Boston are offering more diverse summer programming to get rowers of all age levels and experience out on the water. Let your personal rowing pro teach you the strokes at the two-hour Parent-Child Sculling Sunday, held along the tranquil Upper Charles River. The program runs throughout the summer. Or get your extended family together for the Charles River Rowing League, for 6 weeks of training and (friendly) racing against other groups of 8 to 10, based out of the Harry Parker Boathouse. It will be something you and your family can look forward to doing together every week—a Father’s Day gift that lasts all summer!

A very happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there—on the boat or off!

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