By Morgan Banville | Sep 19, 2015 Dartmouth Week
The serene sounds of nature that typically surround the Lloyd Center for the Environment were replaced with hoots and hollers as racers paddled their way to victory – no matter what kind of seafaring vessel they were in – during the 10th annual Slocum Challenge Regatta.
“This event is to get people out on the water and enjoying the water,” said the Lloyd Center’s Director of Communications JoAnn Cornell. “This is a great way to gain awareness of the Slocum River.”
The regatta is unique in that it’s open to racing shells, open-water shells, kayaks, canoes, surf-skis, traditional rowing boats, whaleboats, pilot gigs and stand-up paddleboards. All proceeds of the Slocum Challenge Regatta will go to benefit the Lloyd Center’s Estuary Education Programs that promote stewardship of the river.
Participating in this year’s regatta, were last year’s reigning champs of the Women’s Elite Whaleboat event, the “Dirty Oars” from the Whaling City Rowing organization. “It’s fun and always a nice day,” said Elizabeth Labelle of the Dirty Oars. “It’s a good distance.”
According to Labelle, last year was the first year the course was exactly two miles because it was mapped out with a GPS.
The Whaling City Rowing organization entered four teams into the various events. “We row year round and it’s really affordable for all ages,” said Dirty Oars member Melissa O’Dowd. “No experience is needed.”
Labelle said the club has members of all ages, even those in their eighties. To join, members must be older than 13. “It’s good exercise,” said Labelle. “You leave everything at the dock and everyone is so helpful.”
Sailor Helena McClafferty said that the Whaling City teams get to keep their boats at the Lloyd Center so sometimes they get to take trips without the pressure of competing. “It’s a great course. It’s smooth, the weather is perfect, and families are out cheering for you on the docks,” said Lisa Belanger of the Rowmones. “There are a lot of families rowing together.”
“Everyone wants to do well. We help one another and we cheer them on,” said Rowmones member Debbie Gabriel. “It’s a fabulous race and we keep coming back.”
Photos by: Morgan Banville