Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are The Categories Of Membership?

There is only one category of membership for both rowers and paddlers: full individual membership. Full individual membership is available only to persons who have been "certified" by CRRPC as possessing the requisite level of boat handling skills as well as safety and navigational knowledge for operation of human-powered craft on an urban waterway.

2. How Long Does The Membership Run?

CRRPC membership is annual, running from January 1 – December 31 of the current year. Renewals for the following year come due in February or March of that year.

3. How Much Does It Cost To Join CRRPC?

Dues for new memberships consist of a base membership fee of $375.00, plus a charge of $62.50 per month (covering the Boating Center’s operational months of May through October), which is assessed and commences in the month of joining. The base membership fee and the monthly charge are paid in advance, at the time of joining, and are non-refundable.
Renewing members are offered a base membership fee discount for meeting an annually determined early bird membership renewal deadline.

4. What If I Have Do Not Have Any Paddling Or Rowing Experience?

Membership in the Chicago River Rowing & Paddling Center is only open to experienced paddlers (canoeists and kayakers) and rowers (scullers).

Paddling - CRRPC does not currently provide instruction for beginning paddlers (canoeists and kayakers), but can provide guidance concerning where prospective paddling members can obtain the necessary training.

Rowing - From time to time CRRPC provides Learn-To-Row Program classes for beginning rowers. Persons with no prior rowing experience are directed to the Upcoming Events Calendar for announcements, class schedules, and instructions concerning how to register for Learn-To-Row program events and classes. When offered, Learn-To-Row classes are available in 5-lesson packages for $150, each lesson being of approximately an hour’s duration, and scheduled to take place on weekends in the 6:00-9:00 a.m. timeframe.

5. Do I Need To Own A Boat To Join CRRPC Or Take Lessons?

Paddling : CRRPC does not own any paddling equipment.  Canoeing and kayaking members must therefore provide their own equipment, which on a space-available basis may be stored free of charge at CRRPC.

Rowing : CRRPC-owned sculling equipment is provided free of charge to rowing members, as well as to everyone enrolled in the Learn-To-Row Program. Members who own their own sculling equipment may (on a space-available basis) also store it at the Boating Center for no additional charge.

6. What Is Involved In Becoming Certified To Qualify For Membership In CRRPC?

Every new CRRPC member is checked out and approved by the coach before being allowed to canoe, kayak or row without supervision. Achieving “certification” – that is, permission to launch a boat without the coach and to apply for membership – is attained by demonstrating basic technical and boat-handling skills, as well as by receiving appropriate safety and navigational instruction.

7. What Else Is Required To Become A Member Or Take Learn-To-Row Classes?

Swim Test : All new members and Learn-To-Row Program participants must submit a completed Swim Test form in advance of getting out on the water. The swim test is basic. It consists of swimming four continuous laps, treading water for ten minutes, and demonstrating the ability to put a personal floatation device on while in the water, which is performed under the supervision of and its successful completion attested to by a certified swim instructor. The Swim Test can be taken at any pool with a certified swim instructor who can administer the test, often available at a local private health club or YMCA for a nominal fee.

No one will be permitted to paddle or row at CRRPC who does not first submit all required paperwork and fees, including a successfully completed Swim Test (signed and dated by certified swim instructor).

CRRPC members and Learn-To-Row Program participants are also required to sign liability waivers; and CRRPC members are required to follow CRRPC rules set out in the CRRPC Policy Manual.

8. What Is The Age Range Of CRRPC Members And Learn-To-Row Program Participants? Am I Too Young Or Too Old?

CRRPC accommodates members and Learn-To-Row Program participants ranging in age from children 16 years old to adults over 70 years old.

9. What If I Don’t Know Anyone Who Paddles Or Rows? How Will I Fit In?

When you become a member or Learn-To-Row Program participant at CRRPC, you will meet and connect with other members and participants like yourself, who share your skill and interest level. CRRPC members span the entire range of skill and interest levels, from raw beginners and pure recreational enthusiasts to elite athletes with rigorous training and competition schedules. However, most members fall somewhere in between these two extremes – involved primarily as individuals for the exercise and simple joy of being out on the water, but also partaking of opportunities for being in boats with other members and participating in local excursions and regattas.

10. What Are The Health Benefits Of Becoming A CRRPC Member Or Learn-To-Row Program Participant?

Paddling and rowing are both non-weight bearing forms of exercise, and for this reason are often recommended by doctors to patients who have sustained injuries in other sports such as running. Rowing is also highly recommended by physicians because it simultaneously builds flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and full-body muscle strength (burning up a lot of calories in the process).

11. What Are The Social Benefits Of Becoming A Member Or Learn-To-Row Program Participant?

In addition to the friends you’ll make while pursuing paddling or rowing at CRRPC, there are often dining, party, and other types of group activities and competitions which provide additional opportunities for everyone involved in CRRPC to get acquainted, have fun and work together.

12. What Is Rowing? What is Sculling? What is Sweep Rowing?

The modern sport of rowing is not like rowing your uncle’s rowboat at the summer cottage. In the rowboat, the seat was fixed, so that all the effort to move the boat with the oars came from your upper body and arms. But in modern rowing shells, the seat slides back and forth on a track inside the boat, such that most of the effort (70%) to move the boat comes from your legs rather than from your upper body and arms (only 20%). The remaining 10% of effort is supplied by your back.

There are two forms of modern sport of rowing: “sculling” and “sweep rowing.”
In sculling the rower operates two oars, one oar with each hand, leveraged on each side of the boat through a metal frame called a “rigger.” A sculling shell can be a one-person boat (known as a “single”) or a team boat with more than one person in it: a “double” (2-person) or “quadruple” (4-person) rowing shell.

CRRPC emphasizes sculling because sculling is the fundamental rowing skill and thus the most effective way to introduce people to the sport of rowing. Sculling also allows members the most flexibility, because they can chose to row by themselves without the need to get other people organized for a team boat, or to row with others in team sculling boats when it is convenient and desirable to do so.

In sweep rowing, each rower in the boat handles only one oar, leveraged on alternate sides of the boat through a metal frame called a “rigger.”  There are no one-person sweep rowing boats because without a minimum of two people in the boat, the boat would never go straight and would tip over.  Sweep rowing boats are known as “pair-oared” (2-person), four-oared (4-person) or eight-oared (8-person) rowing shells. Although there are exceptions, sweep rowing shells also typically contain an additional person, a coxswain, who is responsible for helping to steer the boat and direct the action of the rowers.