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On The Bay: February 1, 2012

Port Rowing Team Wins the Dorman Cup at the First Annual Gold Coast Classic

Monika Dorman, a resident of Sands Point, and an avid rower, had a dream for many years of starting a rowing club for the children of Port Washington. In 2010, Monika, along with Mitch Tamkin, a former high school, college and U.S. Junior Team rower, Bo Hansen, a former Danish National Lightweight rower and Steve Panzik, a former high school, collegiate and U.S. Junior Team member, and community advocates, formed Friends of Port Rowing. In April 2011, under the leadership of Steve Panzik, executive director and head coach, 94 novice rowers in seven (donated) boats took to the water from the Village Club of Sands Point. Within a year – they are celebrating their first year anniversary right about now – this group bought boats, hired coaches, and launched what was to become an incredibly successful rowing club.

In just one year they have become the largest rowing club on Long Island, with over 150 new and experienced rowers enrolled in the “sold out” Winter Training Program. Since that first day in April, 2001, the team won five races at their first regatta, the Big Duck Regatta, a gold medal for boys four at the Long Island Championship, and a huge win for the girls four at the New York State Championship. And that was just the spring season. In the fall, the team won two races at the Head of the Passaic, coming in second in the team points race and winning 13 medals (five Gold, four Silver and four Bronze) at the Snowflake Regatta in Riverhead. The varsity boats also competed at the Head of the Charles in Boston and Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia. For those who are unfamiliar with rowing, these last two regattas are major competition.

To celebrate their first year and bring rowing to the forefront for the Port Washington community and beyond, Steve Panzik, along with his small staff, organized their first indoor regatta. Not surprising, considering all that they have accomplished in 2011, this regatta is the largest indoor regatta in the Northeast, attracting over 250 rowers, from the very young, 5 years old, to competitors 70+. According to Steve, “We wanted to bring rowing front and center to the community and let them see what rowing and Port Rowing can do, not just for Port youth, but for everyone. Rowing is a low impact, no-knee-injury kind of sport. This spring we have added more adult classes and in the summer will offer adult learn to row courses. We want to bring as many people as possible and as many levels of expertise as possible to the sport.” They are also planning a kids’ summer camp. 

Your columnist caught up with Mitch Tamkin, who serves as president of the Friends of Port Rowing and is also an assistant coach, with his daughter, Eva, who was competing on Sunday. Pride in the program and excitement about the rowers were obvious as he related the events over the past year. He spoke of the great kids in the program, the families who have siblings and parents rowing and competing. Rowing, he said, is a great family sport. Take for example, Philip Adsetts, who just won a medal in the Masters 500 meter sprint on Sunday, who has two sons who are rowers, Joe and Eric.

With all the sports that our community provides, one has to wonder why so many took to rowing with such vigor. When asked this very question, Taylor Hirschfield and Isabella Goetze, who have been on the team since it started, said they didn’t know anything about rowing but it seemed like a fun sport. They added, “It is the most intense workout of any sport we have ever tried. It’s very team-oriented and more like a family than any other sport.”

Asked the same question to three young men, Jared Hirshfield, 14 and a freshman at Schreiber, Jake Timothy, and Ed Condon, both 13 and in the eighth grade at Weber Middle School, they tried rowing because it is a “good way to stay in shape; it’s a team sport where everyone works their hardest for the team.” They also like being on the water, which while not an option at last Sunday’s regatta, was something to look forward to once spring arrives.

Ricki Sloan and Ashley Iannucci, both on the varsity woman’s team, started rowing because it was “something new to try, it was a great family sport, and they just got hooked.” They did admit that winter training is not the most fun, but it is worth it. They have made tons of friends at Port Rowing. They really liked that rowing was a team sport. And inadvertently they demonstrated their team spirit by finishing each other’s sentences… now if that isn’t a team, and great friends, too!

So the First Annual Gold Coast Classic was won by the team from Port Rowing. The team got 23 medals overall for 62 points. Second place went to the Long Island Rowing Club with six medals and 22 points. It seems fitting that Port Rowing was the first recipient of the Dorman Cup, named after founder Monika Dorman. How lucky are we in Port to have residents with a vision who just don’t talk about it, but turn it into a reality? Thanks to Monika and that first group of rowers who saw the potential of a rowing club. Through their hard work and persistence, they turned that early dream into something quite remarkable.

And since this is still an early part of 2012, when we all make those New Year’s resolutions… maybe readers may want to think about rowing, a sport that is truly for the entire family. With Port Indoor Rowing Center on Channel Drive, and lots of classes to learn or improve your skills at rowing, why not give it a try? No excuses, we have all this talent right in our back yard, with terrific coaches, state of the art facilities, and the chance to meet new people. Young and old, novice and experienced, are all welcome. See you out on the water!

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