More Than a Nursery Rhyme

(Left to right) Zack Meredith, Jordan Shefchik, Rodrigo Mattos and Jacob Sheartne row in the junior men’s four of the newly established Sturgeon Bay Rowing Club.

On July 28, a new sport will discover Door County, and hopefully Door County will, in turn, discover a new sport. That sport is rowing, and the hope is all Bruce Tully’s.

Tully is the founder and president of the Sturgeon Bay Rowing Club, which was established last year and plans to host the first annual rowing Maritime Regatta Saturday, July 28 in Sturgeon Bay. His biggest challenge: many people do not know what rowing entails or even what a regatta is.

If everything goes according to his plan, however, people will be fully enthralled with rowing – a sport that bears little resemblance to the nursery rhyme that ends in “life is but a dream” – by the end of the weekend.

For the many “crews” taking part in the race event, rowers will squeeze into long skinny “shells” that measure around 12 inches wide, leaving little wiggle room. If any excessive wiggling does take place, the balance of such a boat can be easily impaired.

That is where the oars come into play. Tully compared the oars of a racing shell to the balance pole of a tightrope walker. As a team rows “hard as hell,” in his words, the slightest change in rowing pace can cause an extreme change of direction or even its buoyancy. There are clearly some extremes that the nursery rhyme discarded.

Tully described rowing as “a great spectator sport,” and he hopes that local spectators take the time to stop by and join the expected 500-plus viewing family members.

The regatta is sanctioned by the United States Rowing Association, and each race will cover 1,000 yards. With the race lining the calm shores of Memorial Drive from approximately 15th Avenue to Quincy Street, viewers will not only get a great taste of the action but will be able to enjoy the beauty of the canal as well.

Better yet, this event is only a kickoff for the week known as Sturgeon Bay Maritime Week: A Salute to the United States Coast Guard. With a great tribute on hand, and the success of a future event impending, Tully hopes for a large showing.

“There’s no charge, and we hope that the community will come out,” Tully said. “We hope they line Memorial Drive with their beach chairs and enjoy an exciting day of racing.”