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Catawba Yacht Club Rowing Celebrates 25th Anniversary

This year CYC Rowing will be celebrating 25 years of rowing at Catawba Yacht Club on Lake Wylie, on the outskirts of Charlotte, NC. CYC was originally formed as a sailing club in 1939, celebrating its 75th year in 2014.

In 1990 CYC member David Newton bought an old double and, with fellow club member Russ Davie, began teaching themselves to row.  The lure of rowing held fast and soon there was interest in forming a rowing program at the club.  Meeting up with another double on the lake rowed by twin brothers Bob and Dick Fuller, new members of Charlotte Crew Club at Davidson’s lake campus, not surprisinglysparked conversations of scrimmages and competitions.

CYC, at about that time put up $9,000, which allegedly came personally from three members for equipment. The money went to two 4+s and 2 rec doubles. Dick Fuller and Dave Newton drove to Philly and bought both 4+'s from Drexel, fiberglass hulls with wood interiors. The two rec doubles were Little River Sea Shells that Bob and Dick sold to the club for what they paid for them.  The first sweeps were wooden oars, purchased in terrible shape and rebuilt by the Fullers and their father, Richard.

T Connally Guerrant, Betsey Arnett's father, was one of those original funders.  A subsequent 4+ boat was named Connally in honor of his generosity.  (picture attached).

Rowing facilities began with docks, primarily built by David Newton and Bill Davis, followed soon by boathouse construction.  Donated materials and ones scavenged from construction sites in downtown Charlotte were used to alleviate costs.  An open-sided boathouse was designed by Richard Fuller and Bob Hillis with engineering by Bob Fuller and labor from Dick Fuller, rowers Jay Kilkenny and Lew Acampora plus sailor Tom Guerrant.  By May 1995, the boathouse was completed and named after David Newton. The wonderful CYC Lake Wylie sitewith its new rowing facilities and equipment attracted more rowing members.

Backtrack to 1990; Dick Fuller in characteristic competitive style had challenged Furman to a scrimmage while purchasing a neglected 8+ for CCC, not knowing whether they would be able to fill enough seats to compete.  Repairs on the eight took all summer to be ready for an early September scrimmage. 

The September race materialized on Lake Wylie with competitions in men’s 8+, 4+ and 2-, plus a women's 4+.  The week before the event the Lake Wylie contingent snagged an experienced rower for the last seat saving their ability to compete.

In the next few years, scrimmages were held with Augusta. Pamlico, Palmetto, Cape Fear, Carolina, Clemson, N.C. State, and UNC Wilmington rowingclubs, along with many single rowers.  However, Dick clarified, “Scrimmages, to us implies ‘for fun’. We were serious.”  Most of the races were open with no handicap.

Masters rowing has continued at Catawba Yacht Club with both recreational rowers and an active competitive team.  Clinkage has been collected every year from regional and national regattas, including Head of the Hooch gold metals as far back as 2001. 

Soon after 2001, rower John Zinkevich with a handful of interested high school women students began a juniors program.  It continues today as its own 501 C-3, Charlotte Youth Rowing, a co-ed team numbering 50-60 students from Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Hosted by Catawba Yacht Club, primary coaches Byron Walthall and Nancy Teaff are assisted by an all-volunteer coaching staff of member and area rowers. The team has had rowers qualifying for nationals the past three years.  This year, CYR had three doubles entered in Nationals, one making the A finals for the first time.  




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