Maintaining access to venues.Although the sport of rowing has been conducted on the Yarra in central Melbourne since the 1850's we face an ongoing battle to retain access to the river for rowers, particularly for regattas which require closure to other traffic for a day or weekend. This situation exists in other traditional venues nearby, where rowers compete with kayakers, waterskiers, tourist craft etc for the use of the water.Ultimately control of the venue resides with a local authority which adopts policies and rules. It seems to me that rowing is often very late to the political game which determines the rules.
Are there other locations which have similar problems? Can we develop a suite of suitable arguments and strategies?
In the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario Canada we are very fortunate that we have unrestricted access to the old Welland Canal that passes through the city of Welland. It is maintained by the Welland Recreational Canal Comission. This waterway allows only manually powered watercraft on the waterway.
The course is the typical 5 km course that starts close to the most northerly portion of the old canal. The course has gently turns, but passes under 5 bridges ( see the web site http://headofthewelland.ca/ and some arial photos on the clubs web site http://www.southniagararowingclub.ca/index.php/arial.html) It is a less challenging course than a narrow river with current, but still provided for a challenging day for all participants.
We row on the Mohawk River in upstate New York and deal with tons of river traffic, from big yachts down to jet skis. The jet skis are the worst, with the water skiers right behind. Luckily we don't have barges and tankers. Nothing including regattas closes the river, which is a federally regulated navigable waterway. Our solution has been lots of marshals on the water, Coast Guard Auxiliary at the top and bottom of the course and to put the course out of the channel as much as possible. We still have incidents, luckily not of any consequence. During practices all 6 local rowing organizations just try to be aware and careful. We try to be generous about sharing the river with the kayak and canoe racers as well. I have to tell a story here. One summer we were at the end of practice, turning the 8 to return to the dock. This happens just upriver from a good bend with a high cliff. We were broadside to the current and suddenly the cox is yelling frantically at us. When we were finally able to look at what was causing the yelling, we saw a large matte black pirate ship bearing down on us from around the bend. When we say there is access for everyone, we mean it!