The Saugatuck Rowing Club has become such a fixture in Westport that it is easy to forget they have been around for just twenty years. A former Fordham University coach and oarsman with the Garda Siochana Rowing Club in Dublin, Ireland, James Mangan founded the club by converting an abandoned rail freight station into a boathouse on the banks of the Saugatuck River. His goal was to introduce rowing to people of all ages and make the sport easily accessible.
I think it is safe to assume his goal has been accomplished. The "boathouse" is now an impressive 15,000 square-foot building with a fitness center, restaurant, locker rooms, as well as a large boat storage facility. The property and grounds are equally attractive.
With three straight days of blustery, damp conditions, I didn't expect to see much activity here on a Tuesday afternoon in October. I could not have been more wrong however, as the club was as busy as a sunny day in June. Young rowers made their way up and down the river, followed by a coach in a small motorboat. Viewers like myself, stood in the foggy drizzle and watched the action from atop the bank. I know very little about crewing; my closest experience was drinking beer at the Head Of The Charles Regatta in 1986. But I do know that I enjoy watching it, and apparently, many other people do too. The dreary weather made for poor photography, but the atmosphere was bright and fun.
One other thing I like about the Saugatuck Rowing Club is the handful of spaces along the south end of the lot reserved for "public parking". It is a nice touch from a club that has found amazing success, but hasn't forgotten its roots and original intent.
Soundbounder: Orchard Beach Lagoon