The Open Water Rowing Center (OWRC) was founded by Shirwin Smith in 1985 with four heavy, early design open water shells.
OWRC was one of many water-sports housed at Onshore Marine on Schoonmaker Point; shells, kayaks and wind surfers all shared the indoor storage (with pool table and hot tub) and launched from the beach.
The Boats & Boathouse
Less than a year later, the Onshore Marine building was demolished in preparation for construction of a new marina. OWRC moved a short distance south on the waterfront to the foot of Napa Street, next to the Gallilee Harbor houseboat community. After a long year and a half in tight, shared quarters, with temporary sheds for boat storage and where low tide meant no rowing, OWRC moved back to Schoonmaker Point and the new, spacious marina building.
That same year, OWRC – a huge fan of Maas shells – became a Maas Boat Company dealer. Maas shells at that time were a world apart from the other “recreational shells” used on open water; significantly lighter, more responsive and faster. In years that followed, Maas Boat Company regularly upped the ante; as soon as rowers mastered the newest shell design in even the roughest conditions, Chris Maas would be planning a new design that would push rowers’ skills to the next level.
From the late 80s through the 1990s, OWRC expanded to two boathouses, storing over 100 shells and OWRC rowers became a frequent sight on the waters off southern Marin. A dedicated core of OWRC rowers regularly competed in – and often won – the West Coast long distance regattas: San Diego Bay to Bay, Catalina to Marina del Rey Rowing and Paddling Derby, Monterey Bay Cross Sound, and the Great Cross Sound Race in Seattle, as well as the popular Bay Area regattas – South End Club’s Bridge to Bridge, our own Open Ocean, Petaluma River and Tahoe. At the same time, OWRC also encouraged recreational rowing, introducing (and reintroducing) hundreds to the pleasures of rowing on the Bay.
In 2000 OWRC was purchased by forty rowers, and operates today as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). The LLC members are dedicated to preserving a vibrant rowing community and facility in Sausalito. The LLC is managed by a Board of Directors with a President who is elected by the LLC members each year.