The East Bay Rowing Club was formed in March of 2011 from the ashes of the Jack London Aquatic Center masters rowing program.
The Jack London Aquatic Center (JLAC) community boathouse grew out of the tireless efforts of public officials and local residents passionate about opening the waterfront to the public and connecting it to Oakland’s neighborhoods. Built using Oakland’s Measure K Open Space bond funds, combined with major grants from the public and private sector, JLAC was dedicated in 2000 with a mission of inspiring the diverse communities of Oakland to experience the Oakland waterfront. JLAC’s staff encouraged participation in aquatic recreation and competitive sports on the Oakland Estuary, offering kayaking, rowing, sailing, dragon boating, and other programs.
Masters rowing at Jack London begin in the fall of 2007 when 10 women arrived at Boat Bay 1 to learn how to row under the guidance of Coach Peggy Johnston. They quickly became a competitive team, entering as many regattas as they could find. The young club began winning races, and in 2010 a men’s club was formed, coached by Dave Adams of Oakland Strokes. (Being too heavy for the lighter weight women’s shells, the men took to the water in a vintage Graeme King wooden eight, which turned a few heads at their first regattas!)
The fall of 2010 brought with it rumors that JLAC was struggling financially and might fold, due in part to City of Oakland budget cuts. But like good rowers, the women and men of the masters team did not let this faze them — they just kept rowing. In the winter of 2010, the Board of Directors of JLAC terminated their Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Oakland, returning control of the Boathouse to the City on January 31, 2011.
By the end of February, the Boathouse was inaccessible. The locks had been changed and all activities were suspended, leaving the former JLAC rowers to figure out what to do.
With no access to the boats and equipment, the team held land practices and, through the generosity of the Lake Merritt Rowing Club, held a few water practices at Lake Merritt, using equipment generously lent to the team. In the meantime, a new JLAC usage agreement was negotiated with the City of Oakland Dept. of Parks and Recreation (OPR). Within a month, the team had regained access to the boathouse.
A passionate and dedicated group, the former JLAC rowers began working with OPR to determine their own destiny. First, they established a purchase plan to buy back the rowing equipment from the City. Funding that purchase entirely from their own pockets, they borrowed a launch, opened a bank account, insured the boats, and filed paperwork with the State of California to establish their own nonprofit rowing club.
(View EBRC nonprofit status documentation and tax returns)
The group, renamed the East Bay Rowing Club (EBRC), was officially established on March 1, 2011, led by Head Coach Sabrina Hunter. Coach Reba Knickerbocker arrived in an interim capacity in the fall of 2011, and stepped into the position of Head Coach a few months later. Under Coach Knickerbocker, the EBRC flourished.
EBRC now hosts annual winter and spring Learn To Row events, as well as one on National Learn To Row Day. The efforts have paid off — the club now numbers about 150 men, women, and junior rowers. Led by an experienced and dedicated coaching staff, the club has steadily made a name for itself, competing and medaling at numerous regional regattas, as well as participating in friendly scrimmages with other local clubs. EBRC competes on the national level with regular entries at the San Diego Crew Classic and Boston’s Head Of The Charles Regatta.