Author Archives: Rob

Stretch gunning dory–fast, and fast to build

A few shots of Don Betts’ new Chamberlain Gunning Dory, based on plans by the late John Gardner but stretched from 18 to 25 feet in order to accommodate four rowers. This is essentially the same boat as the Sound School’s ‘First Constitution.’ Very light (less than 250 pounds?), very fast, and very easy to get in and out of the water. Also very traditional, in that its basic shape harks back to the ‘bateaux’ of the French and Indian wars. Those boats were sometimes built in a day; Don figures that with a bit of organization, this one could be built in two.

VCB 2011 highlights

Here are 99 select photos from the past year, with an emphasis on boatbuilding, special events, and the East River. Lots more shots posted here.

Around Manhattan Fundraiser, 2011

Ten boats, a little less than 9 hours, $6000 raised for VCB and more than $100,000 for Rocking the Boat. Thanks to Adam, Rachel, Bryce, Geoff, Dawn and the rest of the RTB team, and thanks to all who helped, contributed and organized on the VCB side: Henry, Pablo, Tizoc, and Phil Shinn on shore support and Sally, Ruth, Becky, Lissa, Jane, Kith and Hans in the boats. Thanks too to the RTB Program Assistants who volunteered at Pier 40 and learned to cox in the process: Nara, Caroline, Michelle, and Stephanie. And thanks to the weather gods for providing a lovely north wind to blow us home!

Visit of Cetterames (French Rowing Club) to VCB

Earlier this month, VCB was invaded by an army–or rather, a navy–of 65 French rowers from the Mediterranean port of Sete. They had shipped two of their traditional six-oared boats to Newark via container, and we helped them tow the boats to Liberty Landing in Jersey City, then row them across the Hudson to Pier 40.

On the morning of September 10, we squared off against them for a series of four short stake races. They kicked our derrieres in three of them–the men’s, women’s, and ‘staff’ (basically, their board of directors vs. ours). We won the fourth–the ‘masters’ event–but probably because we interpreted masters to mean “over 50” while they understood it to mean “over 60.”

But as the French say, ‘on s’en foue’–roughly, who cares? The main event was really lunch, a catered event featuring octopus pie, a specialty of Sete, and a fabulous array of French wines. There was a lot of speechifying, many awards and t-shirts handed out, and a heartfelt invitation to us to return the visit next year in Sete.

Afterwards we boarded their boats plus four of ours for a cruise to Liberty Island, which, after some resistance from the Coast Guard, we eventually managed to circumnavigate.

Merci a tous, et a la prochaine!

Art Installation at Pier 49

On Friday August 21, VCB rowers provided logistical support to five swimmers from the Windmill Factory, an artists collective in Williamsburg, as they installed more than 200 solar powered LED lights atop pilings at Pier 49. Thanks to Dave Clayton, Emily Travis, and Karl Schuman for a hot day spent wrangling a fleet of small boats. For more on “Reflecting the Stars,” which will run through October, click here.