History, A Timeline

History Highlights of the Des Moines Rowing Club

1983 – The Des Moines Rowing Club (DMRC) is incorporated. The club hosts the Morris Scholarship Trophy Dash, a September river sprint race, with a banquet featuring Iowa basketball coach, George Raveling. Ric Jorgensen, a city councilman, is elected president.

1984 – To raise funds, male rowers dress in togas and row an opera singer to a riverboat party hosted by a wealthy patron. Using the hard-earned cash, the club purchases red Robinson eight. Two new double-hulled Omni cats are donated for handicapped rowing. The first head race regatta is held in the fall after an ice-breaker sprint race is cancelled in the spring due to high water. Mercy Hospital becomes the major regatta sponsor for four years.

1985 – The University of Wisconsin Women’s coach teaches a coaching clinic. The club hosts the Midwest Rowing Council annual meeting. The regatta has about 18 clubs and 175 competitors. Dues are $15. The president is Al Garson.

1986 – The club buys the three Julien singles. The regatta hosts about 17 clubs and 400 competitors. Dues are $20. Jamie Wade is president.

1987 – The city declines to enter into a long-term lease at the river (Guzman). Regatta shirts (with a cow theme) sell out for the first time. Dues are $25. David Lynch is president and serves for 4 years.

1988 – The club buys a wooden eight and four. David Lynch rows in the Head of the Charles and Chicago Iron Oars. Club membership is about 40 people. Iowa Methodist Medical Center becomes the major regatta sponsor for 8 years.

1989 – Club membership jumps to 125. The rainy regatta hosts 25 clubs and about 600 competitors and concludes with a keg party at the boathouse for the first and last time.

1990 – The club purchases a brand new 4-person racing shell (the IMMC) and a Maas recreational single (the John Moon). The club launch sinks in a rainstorm. DMRC wins the Bud Poe cup at the Waterloo regatta. HOTDM hosts 650 rowers from 27 teams. The club hosts the Midwest Rowing Convention in November. Dues are $30.

1991 – The wooden Kaschper 4 winds up sideways on Second Ave. bridge in cold, fast May water and splits in half. All are rescued and the boat halves are rejoined at Kaschper in Canada. Club members march in the Beaverdale parade for the first time to promote the regatta. Harvard and Radcliff race at in three events and sell American Gothic-inspired rowing shirts to cover their trip expenses. The Des Moines Register Datebook features the regatta on its front cover. Ed Wilson gives the weather from the cox seat of an 8.

1992 – Scullers pay to add a sculling bay to the old Gray’s Lake boathouse. Club members and power boaters agree on the first river traffic pattern: down the center and up either side. The regatta hosts 500 rowers from 35 teams. DMRC races at the Head of the Mississippi and Head of the Iowa, car-topping a four on a Chevy Blazer. Lori Heles is president.

1993 – The flood of 1993 fills both boathouses, but the club decides to swim instead of sink. With enough warning, crews evacuate almost all of the boats to members’ yards and other dry-land shelters. The club votes to carry on the 1993 regatta, holding it at Easter Lake in several inches of rain. The club has 88 members. Dues increase to $50. Julia (Malloy) Martinusen begins serving the first two of what would become 11 years as president.

1994 – The club buys its first double (the Downey) and a used 4 (the S4). Dennis Malloy installs homemade homemade cox boxes in all the sweep boats. DMRC competes in seven regattas throughout the Midwest, plus the Head of the Charles in Boston. Some members attend the World Rowing Championships in Indianapolis.

1995 – The club purchases a boat trailer from Nebraska, enabling members to more easily travel to out-of-town regattas. Club members race at Masters National Championships in Minneapolis, bringing home a bronze medal for the women’s lightweight double. Some of the 190 club members represent the club at 10 out-of-town regattas. Des Moines picks up the Drake men when the Drake decides to focus on women’s crew. Julia Martinusen coaches the club’s first Junior program, with a women’s 8 competing at the HotDM. We build 16 new dock sections. Dues rise to $75. David Hiatt is president.

1996 – The river traffic pattern changes to rowing upstream on the far side and downstream on the boathouse side. The club purchases a used 8-person schoenbrod shell plus oars. Ten of the new dock sections are lost downstream, so club members rally to build 10 sections in time for the regatta. The regatta is a featured event for the Iowa’s 150th anniversary celebration. Julia Martinusen is president again, this time for 4 years.

1997 – The club receives a used recreational single as a donation. Due to an accident with the Drake men damaging a borrowed double at the Head of the Schuykill the previous fall, the board adopts a boat loaning and borrowing policy. The Des Moines Register features the HotDM regatta on the front page of the Des Moines Register Today section. Thanks to Channel 8 reporter Jenny Atwater’s involvement with rowing, Channel 8 gives the club exceptional coverage. The regatta fields about 22 clubs and 606 rowers, with our biggest race being the women’s open 4 with 22 boats. The Minneapolis boathouse burns to the ground the night after our regatta, but their best boats are saved by being on their trailer.

1998 – The river traffic pattern changes again: rowing up on the boathouse side and down on the far side. The club purchases enough cox boxes to furnish all the 8s. The Gray’s Lake boathouse floods, halting our 72-person novice program temporarily. Mayor Preston Daniels awards the club with a key to the city on Regatta Day, declaring it Des Moines Rowing Awareness Day. So many members are racing that the board adopts a boat selection policy to establish a fair process to determine who races in which boats. Club members officiate at the second annual NCAA Women’s National Rowing Championships on the 1996 Olympic racecourse in Atlanta and at the National Rowing Championships on the 1994 World Championships racecourse in Indianapolis.

1999 – The club buys a used recreational single, a used 8, and a used 4. Members participate in the dedication of the railroad bridge as a bike path. Lesleh Heim, a former Canadian Olympic cox, teaches our annual coxing clinic. Des Moines native Marney Jaastad wins a silver at the Pan-Am Games in the lightweight quad. The HOTDM regatta design wins a Silver Award at the Art Directors Association of Iowa Annual Design Exhibition.

2000 – The club purchases a brand, new Avante double. The first club survey finds that members are most interested in upgrading equipment. Taylor Ball donates materials and labor for dock building. Ramsey Subaru becomes our major regatta sponsor for 5 years. Dues are $100. Sue Voegtlin and Tom Rosborough share the presidency.

2001 – An improved Gray’s Lake reopens, after members spend four years on the planning task force. The club buys a used dirigo 8 and launch and motor. DMRC launches its first website. The club has 147 members. Sue Voegtlin is president for 2 years.

2002 – The club purchases a new 4 (Ric Jorgensen) and a new quad (Meredith). The club grows to 160 members (84 novices) and institutes a volunteer policy as part of dues structure, as well as a policy for who can cox and steer brand new boats.

2003 – The club is granted 501(c)(4) status and holds board elections online for the first time. DMRC serves as an incubator for a fledgling ISU rowing program. Julia Martinusen wins a silver medal for rowing in the inaugural Twin Cities 26.2-mile marathon row. HOTDM celebrates its 20th anniversary with 30 clubs attending. Eric Ware is president.

2004 – The club surveys members again and finds developing coxing skills, improving the novice program, and improving the docks are the top three priorities. The club performs a benchmark survey of Midwest rowing clubs. DMRC hosts Iowa Games at Gray’s Lake. The club replaces another stolen motor. A record 203 members join, including 73 novices and 12 juniors, noted on a new file-maker pro database, developed and maintained by Randall Wilson. Sue Voegtlin and Tom Rosborough create a formal sculling instruction program. Karin Wiberg serves as president for 2 years.

2005 – DMRC revises its bylaws, moving to a 10-member board with 5 members alternating for two-year terms, starting in 2006. Members gather for the first annual dinner with guest speaker ISU Head Coach Mandi Kowal. The club builds new dock sections with the help of Graham construction and buys a new Kaschper 8 and 4 (the Opportunity). Jack Taylor donates his single and the Juniors use their funds to purchase a Junior priority launch and motor. Randall Wilson develops list serves to facilitate email communications. The marketing committee designs a new logo. Founder Jamie Wade dies. The regatta “changes its course” by purchasing new buoys for the 22nd HOTDM. Dues are $150.

2006 – The city finally presents a lease for both boathouses, so the club starts paying rent, with a credit for novices. Members build boat racks in the new boathouse at Gray’s Lake, although the city-supplied docks are unusable. International medal winner Marney Jaastad speaks at the annual dinner. The board hires a web master, staffs a promotion table at two wellness fairs, and moves some supplies to off-site storage. The regatta holds a design contest with Grandview College, and ultimately uses three designs created over the next three years. Julia Martinusen serves for a third stint as president, this time for 1 year.

2007 – The club exhibits at the downtown Farmers’ Market and earns a Polk County Community Betterment Grant to fund a new motor for river clean-up. Our nonprofit status changes to a 501c3. The club starts hosting a volunteer site for the annual River Run Garbage Grab (R2G2) clean-up, but the board schedules Iowa Games on the same day. A dam-to-dam row coincides with the annual dam-to-dam run. Olympic cox Lesley Himes speaks at the annual dinner. The regatta hosts 30 clubs but high winds cause officials to shorten the course in the late morning. Terry Hardy serves as president for 2.5 years.

2008 – Both boathouses flood, but the same weekend, DMRC competes in Minneapolis in boats borrowed at the last minute. Members march in the Drake Relays parade for the first time. The R2G2 river clean-up is a success and the club earns two grants to fund a new launch. However, both motors are down by regatta time, so club members row docks up to Prospect Park. The club buys a new quad (Raven), which Kaschper delivers and exhibits at the regatta. For our 25th regatta, we display all of our posters and a bluegrass band plays at the park. Mike Hughes, Women’s Head Coach at the US Navel Academy, speaks at the annual dinner. The club holds at 180 members despite flooding and a dues increase to $175. Rent is assessed to private boats at a rate of $125 per seat.

2009 – The bylaws are revised to expand the board to 12 directors, with half serving alternating two-year terms. The board purchases a computer for treasurer and regatta use. A winter erging program nets donations to buy a Concept II model D erg. Volunteers market the club at two companies, the marathon expo, and the IPTV March telethon. Some members participate in an All-American Rowing Camp in June. David Carr hosts monthly scrimmages among members. Jessica Lambert takes on coaching the Juniors, developing a program with staying power. The regatta attracts competitors from 34 clubs. Club members gather for a post-regatta sunset cruise on the Jon White riverboat. Jeff von Brown takes over as president when Terry Hardy moves away in September.

2010 – The annual meeting in January features boathouse designs from ISU architecture students. The board adopts the Vision strategic plan. Dawn Taylor and David Hurd donate their singles to the club. Des Moines Parks and Recreation names the Des Moines Rowing Club as its Volunteer Group of the Year due to our river clean-up efforts, however the R2G2 clean-up is cancelled due to flooding. Flooding also impacts our novice numbers and regular membership, only 87 members at year’s end. Scrimmages and our second rowing camp are also affected by flooding. Rain and rising water hurt our regatta day the most, forcing organizers to cancel racing after 28 races, the first time we’ve ever stopped racing. Dues increase to $200. Kristofor Vokes serves the first of 2 years as president and brings the club into the google app age with oarmail addresses and google docs.

2011 – To accommodate a Bylaws change moving annual meetings to fall, two annual meetings are held, one in January and one in November, highlighting members’ rowing and extracurricular interests respectively. The board votes to institute a $25 boathouse levy for regular members and approves a safety policy. New coxes start a Saturday morning cox practice boat. Tow trucks help us launch 5 new dock sections built under Doug Argent’s direction. The regatta offers half-price entry to crews affected by the 2010 cancellation. To eliminate docking from upstream, the regatta changes direction to race downstream, but this proves to be unpopular with competitors. And to overcome radio failure experienced the previous year, radio operators accompany each official. The club regains some ground with 124 members; 26 crews attend the regatta, from as far away as Philadelphia.

2012 – Randall Wilson orchestrates moving to online membership with Ronin. Drake coach Charlie DiSilvestro runs winter erg sessions at Drake. The club resurrects an ergathon at the downtown YMCA but club attendance is low. DMRC explores building a new boathouse with Drake, but when club members understand the limitations on growth and autonomy, they decline the partnership in not one, but two, all-member votes. Channels 8, then 13, give us amazing coverage for our novice program and regatta. Brenda Copley plans fun monthly social events, including a scrimmage with the Hawkeye masters program. Sixth Ave. bridge is under construction for most of the season. Brian Whymm and Rob Mcdougall share their Wisconsin and Washington rowing experiences at our annual meeting. The regatta strikes a deal to get USRowing sanction without buying duplicate insurance. We move to a new bow marker system, making it easier to count boat entries: 334 in all. Monetary club dues remain the same, but the volunteer requirement increases to 15 hours and must include 5 regatta hours. Julia Martinusen begins her fourth stint as president, this time serving for four years.

2013 – DMRC brings back the rowing portion of Iowa Games and hosts it successfully at Gray’s Lake. The club buys a new pair/double, institutes a pair rowing clinic, and tries to balance pair and double rowing, but members are not ready for pair rowing. All boats get permanent bow lights. The dock building committee finishes three years of dock building, launching another 4 sections, for a total of 14 new sections. Randall Wilson tries to protect them with a goose-poop prevention system, but several efforts at restoration are met with vandalism. Boat reservations move to an online system. A Junior committee is created to oversee the Junior Policy and Finances. Jessica Lambert develops an away regatta policy and companion web site. Hy-Vee Grocery stores become our major regatta sponsor for 2 years and Holiday Inn-Mercy becomes our official regatta hotel by donating rooms for officials. The Riverbend House Tour is on the same weekend to cross-promote with the regatta. A late-breaking handicapped construction project at Prospect Park causes the regatta committee to construct platforms to ensure safe launching on race day. The new Iowa Head Coach, Andrew Carter, speaks at our annual meeting. Membership recovers to 160.

2014 – The club purchases a second Pocock 8 plus 8 sweep oars through the University of Iowa, a new computer, a new Maas recreational single, an oar-pitch device. All of the club hatchets are painted professionally by Howard Martin, the pitches are checked, shafts are labeled, and oarcare guidelines are issued. Riggers all get oar-lock foam protectors. Jean Brommel institutes the use of Volunteer Spot to track volunteer needs for the club and regatta. Juniors transition to a new coach, Allison Cook, and develop a parents’ manual. The regatta starts offering lunch as a profit center and the course changes slightly due to construction at start and Prospect. For the first time ever, our fastest time of day trophy goes to a women’s crew. The annual dinner at Chuck’s nets a big turnout with Julia sharing highlights from the year. Winter erging is in Ann Jarnagin’s basement. Regular dues increase to $250 and membership returns to 200.

2015 – The marketing team develops a new marketing brochure, power point, and showcases the club at five different corporate wellness events, plus three downtown farmer’s market Saturdays. Linda Railsback starts an adaptive rowing program with two male rowers and a few donations. The club buys two Winn Tech singles, a used Kachper 8 and two 4s, erg sliders, launch and trailer, and adaptive rowing equipment. Karl Schaefer and Ann Haegert donate their racing singles. Gray’s Lake floods in June, causing a cessation of the novice program for most of the summer. We offer a Junior novice day and a fall learn-to-row day for the first time. The regatta hosts a hospitality tent and adds an official below University. By the end of her last term, Julia Martinusen finishes compiling the club’s 35-year history and creates a spread sheet with critical details of all the equipment the club has ever owned.

2016 – The regatta again goes to Grandview for a design competition. Brenda Copley serves as president.