Rowing has an illustrious history in Duluth. The Duluth Boat Club was established in 1886 with its first location near the waterfront at 7th Ave West – now the site of the Great Lakes Aquarium.

Between 1911 and 1923, the Duluth Boat Club was consistently featured in the national media. Duluth crews won 47 of 58 races – earned 20 national championships, took nine-second place medals and one third. In 1913, Duluth’s “Invincible Four” crew- Dave Horak, Doug and Phill Moore, and Max Rheinberger – earned a record of distinction: it never lost a race prior to WWI, compiling a perfect 22-0 record in national and international meets and retiring unbeaten.

The sport was curtailed during the WWI, but entered another glorious period between 1920 and 1923. It was during that time that Walter Hoover made his mark by winning both the Philadelphia Gold Challenge Cup and the Diamond Sculls at the Henley on the Thames in London in 1922. The Henley was regarded as the world championship. Hoover’s heroics were rowing’s last high point for Duluth.

Beginning in the 1920’s and into the 1930’s, The Duluth Boat Club fell on hard times for a variety of reasons. In 1932, the last regatta during this era was held. In 1955, a group of former rowers reorganized the Duluth Rowing Club which started the rebirth of rowing in Duluth.

The sport really began to flourish in Duluth with the arrival of Julius H. Barnes at the turn of the century. He became the driving force in the club and was instrumental in building an impressive clubhouse that became the social center of Duluth in the early 20th century. Banes hired James Ten Eyck in 1911 to coach the Duluth crew. Under the leadership of coach Ten Eyck, Duluth dominated the sport for the next dozen years.

Today, the Duluth Rowing Club is a strong, thriving organization for a city of this size. Throughout the summer and fall, Duluth rowers, both men and women, compete in a number of regional and national regattas. Over the years, Duluth has produced a many excellent adult rowers. Several local rowers have gone on to be a part of nationally ranked crews. Internationally, former Duluth rowers have earned medals at the the Olympics, World Championships, the Friendship Games in Moscow, the Royal Canadian Henley, Canadian Henley, and World Masters regattas. Dave Krmpotich, a former Duluth rower and decorated rowing champion, won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics.

Nationally, Duluth adult crews have competed and medaled at several prestigious regattas including the Masters National Regatta, Head of the Charles, Head of the Schulykil, and others.

Regionally, the Duluth Rowing Club competes in the Northwestern International Rowing Association (NWIRA) comprising ten clubs from the midwest US and Canada. The summer rowing season culminates with the NWIRA championships in mid August where member clubs vie for the prestigious Lipton Cup, in addition to individual race trophies and medals. The Duluth Rowing Club consistently has a strong showing at the NWIRA championships and medals in several Junior, Adult, and Masters events.

Source: Invincible: History of the Duluth Boat Club, by Michael J. Cochran

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