Members of DC Strokes Rowing Club will pause during the 22nd Stonewall Regatta on June 7 to dedicate a new boat, whose name symbolizes the LGBT club’s momentum.
“The Big Mo,” a new $24,000 Vespoli boat for four rowers, will make its competitive debut alongside well over 200 boats from other clubs that will be participating. With the addition of this boat, the DC Strokes fleet has more than doubled since 2010. The club owns 11 boats and related equipment worth several hundred thousand dollars.
Stonewall Regatta Director Elisabeth Fondriest, who also teaches the club’s popular Learn to Row programs, said “The Big Mo” was a natural choice for the boat name, given the club’s recent growth.
That growth includes setting records for registration for this year’s Stonewall Regatta. Some 225 entries from more than 20 clubs will participate, with teams coming from states including Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. More than 470 rowers are expected to take to the Anacostia River for a full day of racing by rowers of all backgrounds, orientations and abilities, including adaptive rowing.
Fondriest, who also rows on DC Strokes’ Competitive Team, is especially proud of the club and regatta’s diversity: “I appreciate that DC Strokes has always been a mixed club, welcoming LGBT as well as straight rowers.”
The annual Stonewall Regatta kicks off the circuit of adult sprint race competitions in the mid-Atlantic region.
Races will run approximately every eight minutes between 8 a.m. to 4 pm., starting just north of the 11th Street Bridge and finishing at the Anacostia Community Boat House, 1900 M St. SE, Washington, DC.
Types of races/boats include: single (1 person, 2 oars); double (2 people, 2 oars each); pair (2 people, 1 oar each); quad (4 rowers, 2 oars each); four (4 rowers, 1 oar each, 1 coxswain for steering and motivation); eight (8 rowers, 2 oar each, 1 coxswain); and specially modified boats for rowers with physical or intellectual disabilities in adaptive events.
Spectators are welcome at the boathouse, and there is no admission fee. Parking and shuttles will be provided from Maritime Plaza at 1201 M St. SE. Good views also can be had from the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge, the Anacostia River Walk pedestrian bridge, and from Anacostia Park.
Fondriest helped plan the first Stonewall Regatta in 1994, when DC Strokes organized the race as part of Gay Games IV in New York City. The original regatta occurred at the Orchard beach Race Course in Pelham Bay State Park, site of the 1964 Olympic Rowing Trials. The event was such a success that DC Strokes continued it the next year in Washington, and it has been held every June since.
The regatta is named after the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, where a series of demonstrations following a police raid is considered to be the start of the modern day gay rights movement.
For information visit www.stonewallregatta.org
DC Strokes Rowing Club, the oldest LGBT rowing club in the world, provides competitive and recreational rowing opportunities in a safe and supportive environment for rowers of all skill levels. It offers a popular “Learn to Row” program every spring, as well as Novice, Club and Competitive teams. A new Sunday morning Recreational Program begins June 8. For more information visit www.dcstrokes.org