About Riverfront Rowing

Riverfront Recapture’s Community Rowing Program began in 1988 with two borrowed training singles.  This grew to four rented single shells that were brought into Riverside Park on a trailer two days a week. The program had about 50 participants.


In 1988, Riverfront staff and volunteer coaches brought the trainers into city high school pools to expose and attract urban students to rowing. In the early 1990s, Riverfront received a grant to purchase two eights to start a high school program. Since the equipment lay idle in the morning and evening, adult classes were soon offered before and after work. The equipment was housed in steel shipping containers, and the park had no electricity or running water. A portolet was the only “amenity.” 

In 2002, after 13 years of working with city, state, and federal agencies to secure the requisite permitting to build in a flood plain, planning and fundraising, construction on the $3.6 million Greater Hartford Jaycees Community Boathouse was completed. Now, Riverfront Rowing operates year-round, offering programming….

Program Highlights

2022: The Men’s Rowing Team brought home the men’s championship trophy from USRowing’s Masters Nationals for the third time in seven years, and the men’s and women’s teams brought home the Overall Points Trophy, making the team Overall National Champions for the first time ever! Our U16 Girls went to Youth Nationals for the first time in program history. Our Masters Women brought home three golds, one silver, and two bronze medals from the Diamond State Masters Regatta. Our Men’s Senior Master Eights and Men’s Club Eights earned guaranteed entries for 2023, as did the Men’s Club Four, winning another gold medal as the fastest club team, with a time of 16:38.5.

The annual Head of the Riverfront is the largest ever, with more than 700 entries from 73 clubs and schools. 

2021: Our Men’s Club Four is the fastest at the Head of the Charles for the fourth consecutive time. Our Men’s Team brought home the championship trophy from USRowing’s Masters Nationals for the second time in four years. Our Men’s and Women’s teams combined for a strong second-place finish in the Club Championship!

June, 2018: Olympian Meghan O’Leary Returns to Hartford, Where It All Began

2017: Outpacing perennial powerhouses like the Texas Rowing Center and Potomac Boat Club, our men garnered 16 golds, seven silvers and four bronze on their way to capturing the first-place points trophy for the first time ever! Powered by the men’s team’s incredible first-place finish, Riverfront men and women finished 4th out of 47 teams at USRowing‘s 2017 Masters Nationals Championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 

August, 2016: Meghan O’Leary, who learned to row with us in 2010 heads to Rio to row in the Olympics. O’Leary said “From day one, I absolutely loved it.” Learn more here.

June, 2015:  Riverfront Recapture’s Community Rowing Program sends a junior’s team to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championship

2012: Two youth girls were invited to the US Junior National Team Camp system, and Boys 4+ earned one of only 36 invitations from across the country to compete at Youth Nationals in Oak Ridge, TN

2008: More than 2,500 rowers compete in the 10th Annual Head of the Riverfront 

2002: The boathouse in Riverside Park opens, becoming a permanent row for the rowing programs.  Adult rowing classes are fully booked, and the high school program triples in size.

1998: Riverfront Rowing hosts the first ever Head of the Riverfront, now held annually on the first Sunday in October. The Greater Hartford Jaycees commits $500,000 to launch a fund-raising campaign for a boathouse for our Community Rowing Program.

1997: The US Rowing Association brings its national convention to Hartford and sets USRA attendance records.

1994: Planning begins for a boathouse in Riverside Park to accommodate the growing rowing program.

1993: The rowing program continues to grow with two new eights and the creation of a new crew program at Hartford Public High School.

1989: Floating docks are installed at Riverside Park to facilitate the expansion of the community rowing program.

From the Archives

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