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spotlight on alumni rowing team

Everyone who takes part in a Rocking the Boat program—Boatbuilders, Sailors, and Environmental Science participants alike—learn how to row. They love rowing in the traditional wooden boats they or their peers have built, and while they are always welcome to come back and take a boat out on the Bronx River, historically, there had not been many organized opportunities for them to do so. This all changed in 2015 when Rocking the Boat launched the Alumni Rowing Team in order to create a structured way for program grads to keep rowing and remain engaged with Rocking the Boat. It was a big hit!

Currently ending its fourth season, the Alumni Rowing Team has flourished. Some 20 alumni juggle work and family commitments to consistently participate in 20 to 24 practices annually, typically scheduled on Sunday afternoons, as well as six local and regional races. Practices lasting four hours take place in handmade, four-oared 26-foot long Whitehall gigs at Rocking the Boat and at Village Community Boathouse at Pier 40 in Manhattan and races are based right here in New York City and as far away as Boston. The main event they train for throughout the summer is Rocking the Boat’s own fall fundraiser, Rocking Manhattan. Rowers exhibit both nautical and leadership skills as they serve as coxswains, or drivers, of the gigs that event registrants row nearly 30 miles over the course of nine hours around the entire island of Manhattan. Practices are devoted to building endurance, reading wind and water conditions, navigation, docking, and motivating their crew.

The coach of Rocking the Boat’s Alumni Rowing Team is Captain Tizoc Gomez, formerly a teacher at New York Harbor School and a Board member of the Village Community Boathouse. Tizoc got to know Rocking the Boat way back in 2004 when Adam Green led an early boatbuilding project in the South Street Seaport, when Tizoc was working as a cook on the schooner Pioneer. With over 11 years of experience planning and leading rowing, sailing, and backpacking trips for students, Tizoc ably and enthusiastically leads every practice session and trip. Rocking the Boat recently placed third in a field of 40 teams at the 5½-mile Head of the Weir race in Hull, MA, and looks forward to returning next month to compete for the coveted "Key to the Harbor" in the Icebreaker Northeast Regional Youth Open Water Rowing Championships. With 250 participants, it is one of the largest public rowing events on the calendar. For both the Icebreaker event and a youth race at Village Community Boathouse, Alumni Rowing Team members will be coxing gigs rowed by Rocking the Boat students.

“I fell in love with the water as a Rocking the Boat student, so being back as a member of the Alumni Rowing Team is a joy. I try to do as many of the races as I can, but Rocking Manhattan is special. I do my best during that row—encouraging them, being super positive—to help my crew enjoy their time in the boat like I did when I was a student.”

Haajar Carter coxed for one of two Goldman Sachs teams that participated in last month’s Rocking Manhattan, the 10th anniversary of the event, which generated a record $475,000.

“I truly was impressed at the degree of boating skill retained by alumni rowers, especially for some who have had so many years away from Rocking the Boat before joining the team. This is a testament to the impact rowing has on the students. My job as coach is then about focusing on fine tuning coxswain skills and rowing techniques.”

Tizoc Gomez has served as the Alumni Rowing Team coach since 2015, but his longtime connection to Rocking the Boat extends to collaborations at the South Street Seaport and the annual Clearwater Festival.



kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474

info@rockingtheboat.org
phone: 718.466.5799
fax: 718.466.2892

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