Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association Holds Gala

BEMUS POINT – Area residents gathered recently to celebrate the “ultimate sport.”

The Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association held a gala to celebrate the sport of rowing at the Lawson Center in Bemus Point.

The Hon. Joseph Gerace Sr., a founder of the club, said that it was his first time at the Lawson Center, and that he was proud to be in attendance.

According to Gerace, his involvement in bringing rowing to Chautauqua Lake was a “matter of chance.” His brother-in-law, who was involved with rowing in Saratoga, encouraged him to get the sport onto the lake and things fell into place.

Joseph Carlson, Panama class of 1977 graduate, was the event’s featured speaker. He is currently the assistant varsity coach at the Saratoga Rowing Club.

Carlson told of the many benefits of rowing and his beginnings with the sport as a freshman in college 37 years ago.

“With rowing, there is one team, not separate individuals,” Carlson said. “Everyone must be participating as one. There’s nothing like that magical feeling when everyone is swinging together – it fees like nothing.”

Carlson explained that rowing is the “ultimate sport” because anyone can do it – no age is too old or young to start. According to Carlson, it is also great for meeting lifelong friends and is an excellent workout. The only sport that provides better overall fitness in cross-country skiing, he said.

“(With rowing) you will find new personal limits and successes, you will help others succeed and you will make friends forever,” Carlson said.

For individuals interested in the sport but unable to participate, there are various volunteering efforts, including organizing events and being a finish line timer, that are available and necessary for competitions.

Emily Wuebbolt, a Southwestern graduate who will row for Cornell, and Haley Jones, a Jamestown graduate who will row for Syracuse, spoke about their experiences with the CLRA.

“Rowing provided a sense of integrity,” Wuebbolt said. “I believe every rower has a turning point where they instantly become addicted to the sport.”

Wuebbolt said that rowing is an excellent way to stimulate both the body and mind.

Jones added that she considered rowing to be her “place of contentedness” – going so far as to write about her experiences on her Syracuse University college application.

“Going to the boathouse, I feel the coolest, calmest and most clear-headed,” Jones said. “I have learned valuable skills that I use on and off the water.”

Kathleen McCarthy, president of the association, said that the girls are “what keeps us going.”

The event included various drawings and one lucky attendee won a free time-share stay at the city of their choice throughout the world. All proceeds benefited the association.

The CLRA will be hosting “Learn to Row” days Saturday, July 12, from 9 a.m. to noon; and July 14-16, from 5:30-8 p.m. The cost is $50 for the four sessions, and no experience is necessary. Participants must be 18 and older.

For questions, call 410-1851. Register at www.rowchautauqua.org.