VERPLANCK, N.Y. – Cortlandt Town Board member Frank Farrell is hoping the "right person" will step forward to begin a rowing team on the bank of the Hudson River, off of Veteran's Memorial Park in Verplanck.
"It's something that may happen if the right people get together," he said. A swath of riverfront property that formerly housed a seaplane base is becoming a series of parks, after it was granted to the town by James Martin. Two large steel sheds used as airplane hangars still exist on the property, one about 30 feet by 70 feet and another 30 feet by 100 feet.
Farrell is hoping these former airplane hangars will one day house the equipment necessary to run an independent rowing crew.
"It just occurred to me how wonderful it should be if the next Olympians got their start in the Hudson Valley," Farrell said about his hopes for a crew. The council member said Lake Meahagh, also owned by Cortlandt, could be used when conditions are not smooth enough to train in the Hudson.
A community boat launch is being constructed on the former seaplane base, with arguably one of the most spectacular views of Haverstraw Bay available. Standing on the edge of the riverbank, before a half-dozen trailers squatting on town-owned land, park goers will have nearly a 180-degree view of the river. A short walk across the street, Farrell said, Lake Meahagh could be used for crew training.
A bit of imagination must be used to envision the future of the concrete-floored, blue steel hangars. The buildings are still filled with trash, old tires and drums, among other items.
"I'm just hoping it will reach the ears of that right person," Farrell said.
Rowing teams can use sweeps or scullers, terms used to describe styles of rowing in which crew members use one or two oars, respectively. The boats used for the speed-centric style of rowing seen in the London Olympics are generally referred to as racing shells.
There are six basic race configurations. Sweeps will have rowers configured in sets of two, four and eight. Sculling boats can be configured in singles, doubles or quads.
An immobile member of the rowing crew, the coxswain, shouts race strategy and helps motivate the team as an on-the-water coach. The coxswain may also help steer the boat with a tiny rudder. All sweeping crews configured in sets of eight have a coxswain. Other configurations may or may not have a coxswain; those without will steer the racing shell with foot-controlled rudders.