It’s official. With the announcement that the World Rowing Championships are coming to Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park (the first time the prestigious event has been held in the United States in more than 20 years), thousands more people will know what locals have already known: Sarasota is a mecca for rowers of every age and ability.
The World Rowing Championships, coming up Sept. 23 through Oct. 1 and anticipating 40,000 in attendance—and 1,700 elite, world-class athletes from more than 60 countries on hand—is the icing on the cake for our area, which is home to the Sarasota County Rowing Club, for women and men over 18; the Sarasota Scullers, the oldest organized youth rowing club in town; and Sarasota Crew, whose membership has grown by leaps and bounds since its founding in 2002.
For middle and high school-aged rowers, it’s often an all-consuming lifestyle of competition against other clubs, as well as for college scholarships. For some of the more mature rowers who live here or schedule visits just to row, it’s as much about fitness, health and the knowledge that rowing can be a lifelong sport.
Rowing is a low-impact, high-cardio activity, so it’s suited to almost anyone at any age. Adaptive rowing even engages those with certain physical limitations. And our calm, beautiful waters seem perfect for all, whether it’s the youth teams launching from Osprey’s Blackburn Point or Bay Point Preserve, master rowers who have been using their oars for years, or visitors taking advantage of the new Grade A facility (the only one of its kind in the country) at Nathan Benderson Park.
NBP, for example, rents single sculls to those properly qualified, and also offers “Learn to Row” courses for newbies, whether in single sculling, double sculling or sweep rowing with a team in larger boats. Private lessons available, too.