Rowing in Cleveland

  • 1835

    The Ivanhoe Boat Club was founded in Cleveland; its primary competition, the Ydrad Boat Club. With the coming of the Civil War , rowing on the Cuyahoga died out, not to be seen again until the mid-1980s, after the river had ben widened, deepened, and then defiled all in the name of industry and commerce.

    The Cuyahoga River meanders through Cleveland around 1860.
  • 1989

    The Western Reserve Rowing Association (WRRA) was established at a location adjacent to Carter Road Bridge in 1989 as a non-profit corporation by five people who had rowed in the for-profit Flats Racing League, which had been established in 1988.

    Western Reserve Rowing Association’s wooden boathouse.
  • 1993

    As the Flats Racing League ended its run, WRRA began its Summer Rowing League in 1993, and remains one of the country’s largest summer rowing programs.

    Due to the growth of the organization, the Western Reserve Rowing Foundation (WRRF) was formed as an umbrella organization for the collection of high school, collegiate, and adult crew programs. It was established as a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to competitive and recreational racing and the expansion of the sport of rowing in the Greater Cleveland area, with a focus on youth rowing.

  • 1996

    The Cleveland Sprints Regatta was moved from Lake Erie to the Cuyahoga River, and the distance was changed from a 2,000 meter sprint to a 2.5 mile head race, marking the beginning of what is known today as the Head of the Cuyahoga Regatta.

    The initial head race, which was included as a Cleveland Bicentennial event, involved over 250 rowers and 3,000 spectators. The race has continued to grow and is now a 5,000 meter race.

    Cleveland Sprints Regatta in 1990
  • 2003

    WRRF changed its name, becoming the Cleveland Rowing Foundation (CRF) and revised its governance structure to officers and a board of directors that included rowing representatives as well as community and corporate directors.

  • 2004

    CRF moved into a new 11,000 square foot facility in the summer of 2004, directly adjacent to its existing boat bays. This new facility included staff offices, a workout facility, and a Common Room that could accommodate 100-plus.

  • 2010

    As the organization continued to grow, the CRF Board of Directors began a search for a new home along the Cuyahoga River that would accommodate the needs of its member organizations and secure the future of rowing in Cleveland.

    Partnering with The Trust for Public Land and with a generous donation from the Gund Foundation, the former Commodore Club Marina was purchased in 2010, which included 6.5 acres of land and a 19,000 square foot building.

    Former Commodore Club Marina
  • 2011

    CRF was situated in its new location and is part of Rivergate Park.

  • 2015

    An additional boat house consisting of 6,500 square feet was added.

  • 2018

    Head of the Cuyahoga Regatta hosted over 2,200 athletes in over 525 entries from 53 clubs, 38 cities, 11 states and Canada, and is currently the sixth largest Regatta in the country.