Rowing has a long and colorful tradition in Duluth.
On a calm and cool summer morning down toward the end of Park Point, kids from east and west Duluth climb into a 60-foot long shell and pull away from the dock. Their energetic coxswain, who had never before competed in a sport, will join a west coast college crew team in the fall.
In a four-person shell, a retired firefighter and a teacher with the summer off have joined a doctor and an engineer. They move their backs, arms and bodies in perfect unison, powering their craft silently across Superior Bay.
That afternoon, young professionals and stay-at-home moms come down to the Point to learn a new skill and meet fellow outdoors enthusiasts. Young and old, the wealthy and the working class, diverse citizens are all united in the lifetime sport of rowing.
Some days, when the wind is right, rowers carry their shells across to the Lake Superior beach and row on the crystal clear waters of the Great Lake. On a few weekends each year, crew teams come to Park Point from across the Upper Midwest to race each other. All are in sleek shells and powered by 12-foot oars and muscle.
It all began with the Duluth Rowing Club.
The Duluth Boat Club was established in 1886. For nearly 130 years, the Duluth Rowing Club has brought world-renown rowing to Minnesota. The sport flourished in the early 1900s, producing some of the nation’s premier crews that dominated the sport and brought fame to the city.
- Duluth’s Walter Hoover won the prestigious Diamond Sculls at the 1922 Henley Regatta.
- Like the “Boys in the Boat” from the University of Washington, Duluth’s “Invincible Four” went undefeated at national races in 1913 and 1914, winning 22 national and international races.
- In 1988, Duluthian Dave Krmpotich rowed to a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, as a member of the U.S. men’s team.
- Today, the Junior Men’s Eight, with rowers from across the city, is undefeated in three years of championship competition. From summers spent on the water, these teenagers will make lifetime friends and fantastic memories while rowing.
Rowing has definitely made me the person I am today. It has given me confidence in life, and has shown me what it’s like to work for something and not give up when it gets tough.”
— Andrea Rosenberg, Rowing coach, college and junior rower
CONTINUE LEARNING MORE: An aging boathouse.