POULSBO — The only thing holding back the Kitsap Rowing Association from rowing in Poulsbo: The docks at the Port of Poulsbo.
The docks are too high, and the association either needs one lowered or modified.
Calls to the port office had not been returned by deadline Thursday.
The young rowing club that was created less than two years ago is gathering momentum.
The Kitsap Rowing Association, originally Indianola Rowing Association, is finishing its move from the waters of the north end of the county to Liberty Bay.
The association is expected to get out on the water in a few weeks, association president Kirsten Jewell said.
“We’ve received very warm welcomes,” Jewell said. “We’re really excited.”
“Liberty Bay is a wonderful body of water to row on.”
A launch party will be 7:30-11 p.m., March 9 at the Poulsbo Yacht Club to celebrate the move. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and $35 for families. The “Rock ’n’ Row” party will include a silent auction and live music.
The party will be held to raise awareness of the rowing association and keep costs as low as possible. Jewell said the association charges each person $300 per year, or $100 per quarter to row.
The association is “trying not to make [rowing] an elitist sport,” Jewell said.
The move to Poulsbo and Liberty Bay creates a more centralized location for the association. The association ended the 2012 rowing season with 40 members. Jewell said the association anticipates “a lot more growth.” It is receiving more inquiries from interested people.
Rowing classes will also be offered this season. Beginning in April, a five-week class will let anyone interested in rowing try it for themselves, without competing.
The association will offer a recreational program and a competitive program, Jewell said. Those that are not interested in competing, can still use the association’s workout equipment and row in a non-competitive setting.
“Rowing is an excellent workout,” Jewell said. “You can be any shape or size to be a happy rower.”
Rowers in the association are ages 21 to 75.
The club started with one boat and a handful of new rowers last fall on Miller Bay in Indianola, then rowed through the summer and fall on Port Gamble Bay.
“I am glad that this has come together,” Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said in a message to the club. “There should be rowing on Liberty Bay.”
The new rowing venue, near Poulsbo’s Marine Science Center, will include dock space for launching 40-foot and 60-foot four- and eight-oared rowing shells, making it ideal for winter and spring rowing. Jewell said all the association’s equipment and racks have moved.
The association first rowed on Miller Bay and then Gamble Bay.
Rowing on Liberty Bay will allow the association to row more often throughout the year. Locations such as Gamble Bay, for example, become too rough during stormy weather.
Since it began the association built its fleet of boats to five four-oared shells and an eight-oared shell donated by the Port Townsend Rowing Club. The successful initial rowing season has drawn interest from new and experienced rowers across the county.
The name change, from Indianola Rowing Association to Kitsap Rowing Association, reflects a broader interest.
In its first full racing season, the association’s men’s and women’s crews participated in several large regional regattas. They won and placed at the Green Lake summer and fall regattas in Seattle and the Covered Bridge Regatta in Eugene, Ore. The club also took part in the Row for the Cure regatta on Lake Union in Seattle and raced in Everett and Port Townsend.
The association’s heavyweight men’s crew out-rowed four other crews from Washington and Oregon to win the Green Lake Frostbite Regatta in November, then finished fourth out of 11 crews the next day at Head of the Lake Regatta, a three-mile race that draws hundreds of top club and college competitors from across the U.S. and Canada.