10/06/13 8:00am
10/06/2013 8:00 AM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | East End Rowing has a new home in downtown Riverhead. Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio joins (from left) East End Rowing co-founder Co Rentmeester, webmaster Dan Jablonski, vice president George Woodhull and president Bill Hale.

If it weren’t for the 27-foot-long, 11-inch-wide racing scull in the front yard, the brown-shingled house at 30 McDermott Ave. in downtown Riverhead probably wouldn’t get more than a passing glance.

But this property isn’t just any abode — it’s the new home of East End Rowing and, after spending more than a decade on a chunk of land in Flanders without a structure to store their equipment, the group and its 35 members are happy to be there.

“There was no indoor anything in Flanders,” said club member Dan Jablonski, who manages East End Rowing’s website. “It was 12 years without a roof, basically. So when [storms] Irene and Sandy came, all the members went down there and had to make sure the boats were tied down and far enough away from the water.”

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The building also has workout space for its members, including rowing machines.

Fortunately, that sort of hassle is now a thing of the past. In May, East End Rowing entered into a licensing agreement with Riverhead Town that gives the club rent-free use of the McDermott Avenue house. The five-room house was purchased by the town earlier this year for $160,000 and is now the property of the town sewer district, said that district’s superintendent, Michael Reichel.

Mr. Reichel said the town bought the house with the intention of demolishing it to make way for a new pump station, but he does not anticipate that occurring for at least another two years. In the interim, East End Rowing is responsible for paying all utilities at the house, he said.

“There have been so many different locations proposed for the boathouse,” said Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. “Now, with the sewer district getting this property, it just made sense to put it here.”

This isn’t the first time local government has stepped in to assist the club. A few years ago, East End Rowing was awarded a $90,000 grant from Suffolk County. Part of that money was used to put build a new floating dock on the Peconic River.

“It was just in time because the old wooden ones had given up,” club president Bill Hale said.

The new dock was a plus, but East End Rowing, which was founded in 2001 by Co Rentmeester, Michelle Knox Zaloom, Dan Johnson and Alice and Marty Golden, needed a home base. Club members had hoped to build a boathouse in the form of an addition to the East End Arts building on Riverhead’s East Main Street, but that didn’t pan out, Mr. Hale said.

Now that East End Rowing has a house, Ms. Giglio said town officials are also working on an easement that would allow the town to purchase a pre-fabricated boathouse to put in the home’s backyard. In the meantime, East End Rowing members can store their sculls outside and take a hot shower in the home’s second-floor bathroom after rowing the Peconic River. There are also two rowing machines in an upstairs room, where members can train during the winter.

Club members agree the timing was just right to help firmly establish themselves in downtown Riverhead, which is enjoying a revitalization that East End Rowing hopes to be part of.

“Rowing is exploding across the U.S. right now,” said Mr. Hale. “I think people are finding that they can do it all their life, like golf.”

East End Rowing expects to draw a crowd of at least a thousand people when it hosts its annual Snowflake Regatta on the riverfront Nov. 10. Participation at last year’s event was negatively affected by superstorm Sandy, but 2011’s regatta included 108 entries from 14 rowing clubs.

And when rowers are doing their thing on the Peconic River, Mr. Jablonski said, all eyes are on them.

“Everybody’s got a big old motorboat,” he said. “When you’re rowing a 27-foot-long, 11-inch-wide boat, everyone’s watching you.”

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07/11/12 7:00pm
07/11/2012 7:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Bri Ristau (right) from East End Rowing was joined this summer by Allsion Simmons to form a doubles team. Simmons, who is entering college in the fall, came from Pittsburgh Steel Crew to compete with Ristau. The two took third at the Independence Day Race in Philadelphia two weeks ago after only training together for two weeks.

ROWING: Fundraisers for East End Rowing A “North Fork Wine & Culinary Sweepstakes” is being held to raise money for a scholarship fund and equipment for East End Rowing. The raffle features 25 prizes, ranging from a full wine tasting getaway package to gift certificates for restaurants across the North Fork.

Local rowers who compete for East End Rowing have been busy selling raffle tickets at events around town. They’ll also sell tickets Saturday outside Waldbaum’s in Riverhead selling tickets and on July 21 at the Oldies Concert, July 28 at the triathlon and Aug. 4 at the Mardi Gras Festival. The raffle runs through Aug. 28. Tickets are $2 each, 3 for $5 or 13 for $20. The goal is to raise about $10,000.

For questions about purchasing tickets, contact Caitlin at [email protected].

Local rowers have experienced a great deal of success recently competing at East End Rowing. Riverhead High School students Dan O’Neill and Erik Divan won a national competition Memorial Day Weekend. Bri Ristau from Riverhead competes there as well as Hunter Bingham. Ristau placed fourth at nationals and was second at the New York State championship. All four students train together.

LACROSSE: U-19 Men’s Team Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz left for Finland July 9 to help the U-19 U.S. men’s team compete for its seventh straight World Championship. Rotanz was selected as an assistant coach for the team, which will compete July 12-21 in Turku, Finland.

The tournament is held every four years. The team features nine players from Long Island. Coach Rotanz will provide updates throughout the tournament via Twitter. Follow along @PowerShaft. Rotanz guided the Wildcats to their third state championship in program history last month. As soon as the high school season ended, he began working to help prepare the U-19 team for the World Championship.

BASKETBALL: Three on three tourney The Timothy J. Casey Memorial three on three basketball tournament will be played on Saturday at the Aldrich Lane courts in Laurel at 11 a.m. In case of rain, the tournament will be played in the Mattituck High School gym. The tournament will have A and B divisions for adults, a college division and a high school division. The cost is $60 per team. All proceeds will benefit the Timothy J. Casey Memorial Fund. For more information, call (631) 298-5043 or email: [email protected]

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Tournament in Mattituck The Peconic Bay Medical Center will host its second annual beach volleyball tournament on Sept. 8 at Breakwater Beach in Mattituck. Registration will start at 9 a.m., with play starting at 10 a.m. The cost is $20 per person with six players per team. Individual players are welcome. For more information, contact Priscilla at (631) 548-6217 or Jennifer Miglino at (631) 548-6219.

TRIATHLON: New event for Riverhead The inaugural Riverhead Rocks Olympic Distance Triathlon will be held on Sunday, July 29, at 6:40 a.m. Athletes will start off with a 1.5-kilometer swim in the Peconic River, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run that will go through the heart of downtown Riverhead before finishing in front of the historic Suffolk Theatre.