Learning to row has different paths for different people. Some members come to the club with plenty of experience, some with none. We try and adapt the pace to fit the needs of the individual, but the general path is the same for all.
To request an orientation, please fill out our Training Request Form
If you’re just curious about rowing, and have never rowed before, you might want to just go out with an experienced rower as a passenger. Make friends with a rower and ask them if they’ll take you along. Along the way you can switch out and try rowing yourself. It’s a fun, simple way to get a feel for the boats.
To start rowing by yourself, you’ll need to go through an orientation to become familiar with the procedures and use of the craft. The orientation lasts 2-3 hours and you’ll learn how to launch, row, and return our boats. Orientations are typically done in a wooden whitehall, although if you have previous sculling experience, you may request to do your orientation in one of our coastal boats.
Solo Practice (In Cove)
After your orientation, you’ll be encouraged to practice within Aquatic Park cove by yourself on your own time. Most beginners require a number of outings to become comfortable and confident behind the oars. Improving your rowing technique makes rowing more enjoyable and easier on your body. You can learn a bunch of tips in our Rowing Technique Guide. We recommend that you come down to practice again within the first week after your orientation.
Outings & Swim Piloting
The best way to build experience is with others. Once you’re confident handling your boat, you may join other certified members for outings outside of the cove. You are also encouraged to participate in club swims as a pilot escort – there is no better way to become involved in club activities, get experience on the bay and and meet other members.
Join Practices in Doubles, Quad & Wieland
Once you’re feeling comfortable behind the oars, you may also go out in doubles with other certified rowers, or join a practice in our four-person quad or six-person barge. Keep an eye on our WhatsApp group and the Rowing Calendar for opportunities.
Our fleet of boats is largely maintained by members like you. Wooden boat night is held every Tuesday evening from 6-9, and there’s a Boat Night for our non-wooden fleet once a month. Please join for one of these so you can appreciate what goes into keeping the boats going.
There’s a lot going on out on San Francisco Bay. Winds, Tides, Currents, Shipping, Wildlife and more. Work through the Bay Safety Guide to become familiar with what’s out there. Passing the test is required for certification.
Once you’re comfortable rowing solo, understand Bay Safety, you can seek certification to go outside the cove alone. This is the standard where we check you know how to take care of the boat and yourself and others around you. You will plan a trip with an instructor to check that you have the skills and capabilities to take on the more challenging conditions of SF Bay.