UPDATE on Aug. 25, 2023: Brenda says: “…anyone interested in taking a row to see how you like it for the Waterfront Festival on October 7th should plan to meet at Vallejo Marina 1 Harbor Way at 9 am on Sunday, September 10th. Hope to see a lot of you. Just wear work out clothes, bring any kind of gloves, water and if you want sunscreen. It is loads of fun!!!”
I discovered canoeing as a Boy Scout, and owned a canoe when I lived in Colorado. But I haven’t been paddling lately. I shared in the excitement a few years back when Steve and Jeff Burmann of Pike Fitness displayed their trophy win from a whaleboat team rowing competition in Vallejo. This week, I learned that the Hiddenbrooke community has sponsored its own boat crews in the Whaleboat Regatta at the Vallejo Waterfront Festival in past years.
The Straits of Mare Island Rowing Association will again be recruiting and training the 8-person whaleboat crews for the regatta which happens next on October 7, 2023. Anyone may participate in the competition with no experience required, according to Brenda Plechaty who is the Association President, but she recommends that each crew plan to practice at least twice before race day. Brenda says that the Hiddenbrooke community has sponsored 1-3 boat crews in recent years. Other past boat sponsors have included other neighboring communities as well as the police and fire departments, municipal organizations, and local businesses like Pike Fitness. The boat sponsor fee is a $200 donation to the Vallejo Waterfront Festival.
The 26-foot-long whaleboats that the eight-person crews row are modern day versions of historic whaleboats. In the old days, the craft were used for whaling, wartime, and as lifeboats. Today, whaleboats are still used as lifeboats and for rescue operations. The Association offers anyone up to four free rowing opportunities during their open sessions on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. After that, individuals are expected to become an Association member for $20/month. The Association participates in challenges with six other clubs in the Bay area.
Learn more about the Straits of Mare Island Rowing Association at https://somira.org/home/. Find out how to sponsor a boat in the Vallejo Waterfront Festival Regatta at https://www.vallejowaterfrontweekend.com/whaleboat-regatta.