Boating Guide Menu



Rowers come to the Dolphin Club from many backgrounds. Some have extensive experience; some are pulling an oar for their first time.

You can go many places while rowing at the club. Some members choose to do it for tradition, for relaxation, for exercise, for competition, for adventure, and to be part of a team.

The Fleet

The Dolphin Club has a diverse range of rowing boats in wood and plastic that will appeal to different types of people pursuing different activities. Whether you’re rowing to catch a break in your day, piloting a swim, or practicing for competition, there is a boat for you.

  • Wooden Rowing Boats
    The Dolphin Club’s fleet of traditional ‘whitehall’ style rowing boats that are all hand-built and lovingly maintained at our club-house. Some are over 100 years old, some were built recently. We have over a dozen singles and 5 doubles. Rowing these boats is a special privilege that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.
  • Coastal Rowing Boats & Shells
    For the more athletically inclined, the club also has a fleet of modern coastal style rowing boats and open water shells. These are ideal for exercise, and competition, and all are designed to handle the rougher waters of San Francisco Bay. The club also has a half-dozen flat-water shells over at our Lake Merced boathouse.
  • Team Rowing
    The club operates two boats for crew/team rowing training. Wieland is the queen of our fleet – built in 1887 By Al Rodgers, it is a 125 year-old, historic six-oared barge. Each fall a crew of Dolphin women compete in the Wieland against a similar crew from the South End club. The ‘Storm’ is our coxed four person coastal shell that is ideal for training for competition in the new FISA Coastal Class. It’s light and fast and fun!. 

Where Can You Go?

The Dolphin Club runs a volunteer-led training program where you will learn how to take care of the boats, how to row confidently, and how to be safe on the water.

Training typically starts with an orientation class. After this you will be encouraged to practice by yourself in the cove, and join other members on group rows. Once you’ve reached a level of confidence, and understand Bay Safety, you’ll be ready for your checkout certification row. Learn more about our Rowing Learning Path

Once certified, Dolphin Club boats can take you to many interesting places. 

  • Along Crissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge
  • Out and around Alcatraz
  • San Francisco Cityfront
  • Angel Island
  • Treasure Island

Remember that our wooden boats in particular are delicate and incredibly precious. YOU are responsible for their care while they are checked out in your name. Do not leave them unattended anywhere they might be damaged, do not pull them up on a beach.

Races & Competition

Dolphin Club rowers compete in a number of events across the Bay Area and beyond. Shell rowing is the most competitive aspect of our program, but SUPs, kayaks and wooden boats sometimes compete too. 

The biggest event in our calendar is the Dolphin – South End Triathlon which is held every October. This is an annual rowing, swimming and running competition where the success of our rowing fleet often dictate the success of the club. 

Throughout the year there will be opportunities to row at several regattas including the McCovey Cove and Angel Island regattas hosted by the Dolphin Club, South End and other clubs in the area. 

Coaching, practice and casual racing is held throughout the year. 

Excursions and Expeditions

Over the course of the year, you might hear about longer “expedition” trips to faraway places. Popular overnight destinations include China Camp, Petaluma, and even Sacramento. These trips by definition require a certain degree of skill and fitness.

Such trips are often advertised only by word-of-mouth. The best way for new boaters to find out about these is to become involved in the program. Show up for Boat Night, Friday morning rows, and team rowing on Wieland and the quad.

If you’d like to organize an overnight trip yourself, you must arrange with the Boat Captain well in advance.

Rowing at Lake Merced

The Dolphin Club has a small boathouse at Lake Merced where a half-dozen flat-water shells are available for use by experienced shell rowers. 

The Lake Merced boathouse is available for experienced rowers only. Introductory rowing training is not currently available at this location.