Great publicity this week about the opening of the channel by Lake Merritt (thanks, Measure DD!). As a former LMRC member, I can attest firsthand about what grand tradition they have, seeped in 100 years of history. One of the oldest clubs on the West Coast, the LMRC has been cordoned off in their landmass-surrounded lake for their entire existence, the dam having been implemented 150 years ago (thanks, Sam Merritt!).
LMRC has been a great sister club to the EBRC. We relied on them physically and mentally to get through the times when our location and club status was still uncertain. With Lake Merritt, still home of the SW Regionals, there was only the possibility for about 100-125 strokes before you had to spin your boat and go back the other way. Now, with the gradual opening of the channel over the next few years, the possibility for a unique sprint course presents itself.
A boathouse-to-boathouse journey back into the history of Oakland, the community and the bay. What will start at the boathouse of Lake Merritt will end at the boathouse of the boathouse of the EBRC. I present to you now, rowing community, the first draft of the Lake-to-Estuary Race.[youtube height=”305″ width=”520″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8S5vZMUqpw&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]
- Starting at the Southeast end of the lake, the timed heats begin. Southwest finger will be for warm-ups and staging.
- Dodging the flock of ever-present Canadian Geese that hang out by the fountain, the boats first wind their way to the around the Fairyland area.
- Once in the center of the lake, the boats begin to position for a wide right turn to go under the 12th Street bridge, to the sound of hundreds of screaming, cheering fans.
- The boats continue down the channel, past Merritt college, the track stadium, baseball field and Knickerbocker’s Bend.
- Rowers will be able to see the bay as they hit Stelter’s Strait, continuing on under 880 until the furious reach the Jack London Aquatic Center (EBRC boathouse) where they will weave their way out to the estuary.
- A final right turn awaits them, setting themselves up for the sprint the flagpole in Jack London square, where more legions of screaming fans await to grant them their deserved glory. Google Earth tells me this is just over about 3500 meters, a perfect ‘short head’ or ‘long sprint’.
As the changes from Measure DD continue to take effect, bridges will be raised and the waters of the lake will creep closer to those of the estuary. We’re looking forward to many more celebration days together as these barriers between are brought down.