More Room to Row: Dartmouth to Expand Boathouse

  • Oliver Bub, of Hanover, N.H., carries his single scull out to the water for practice with the Dartmouth Rowing Team at the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. The boathouse that the team uses is set to go through an expansion that will provide rowers with enhanced training facilities. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News photographs — August Frank

  • Brendan Caltavuturo, of Ridgewood, N.J., rows down the Connecticut River during a Dartmouth Rowing Team practice on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Michael Green brings oars out to the docks on the Connecticut River for practice as Liam Davidson makes his way back to the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — August Frank

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/18/2018 12:59:20 AM
Modified: 8/18/2018 1:00:06 AM

Hanover — Thanks to Upper Valley winters, Dartmouth College’s rowing teams are almost never able to access the Connecticut River when the spring sports season begins in early February. Starting next year, they should at least be able to simulate it better.

Groundbreaking is scheduled next month on a $7.5 million renovation and expansion of the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse, including a 6,400-square foot addition to house a pair of moving-water tanks and up to 30 rowing machines.

It’s the 8-foot-by-2-foot water tanks that excite the Big Green the most. Currently, rowers train on still-water tanks located in the basement of Alumni Gym.

“It’s going to create much more realistic simulation of the conditions in the river,” said Dartmouth women’s coach Wendy Bordeau, who’s entering the second year of her second stint with the team. “Rowing in still water is a heavier load, so it puts more strain on your body and limits higher stroke rates. With moving water tanks, you can use a slightly larger blade, which is closer in size and shape to the actual blades we use on the water.”

When the weather does break, having the tanks so close to the river will be a welcome change.

“Just being able to go right out on the water after a lesson is going to be a huge advantage,” Bordeau said. “Getting out and transferring what you just went over right away is something we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

The 30 rowing machines — known as ergometers, or ergs — to be installed in the new addition alone will roughly match the number available in the current Boathouse training area. A large, brick fireplace is to be removed from that area, creating space for additional ergs for a total of 78 machines between the two rooms, according to a project design.

About 120 student-athletes at Dartmouth row for its women’s, men’s heavyweight or men’s lightweight teams. When the project is finished, there will be space to accommodate more of them at the same time.

“We’ll be able to have more than one team using the facility at once, which is huge,” Bordeau said. “Just having the space and the (wider) availability of equipment is going to be great.”

The project, which also will bring improvements to the building’s ventilation and safety systems, is being funded entirely by donors, including an endowment for operation and maintenance.

“Having so much support from alumni is really a reflection on how much of an institution rowing is at Dartmouth,” said men’s heavyweight coach Wyatt Allen, whose program was founded in 1873, according to school records. “Having adequate training space in the winter has been one of our biggest challenges, so to get this state-of-the-art upgrade is going to be a big improvement.”

Built in 1986, the Friends of Dartmouth Boathouse wasn’t intended as a training facility when it was constructed, but rather a social space and storage area. The fireplace has gone widely unused over the last 30 years as the area transformed into the programs’ primary indoor training facility, along with Alumni Gym.

As for maintaining a gathering place, an approximately 1,000-square-foot multi-use space will connect the existing boathouse to the new addition near the entrance, serving as a welcome and study area, meeting space and memorabilia display area.

Dartmouth coaches suggested that having better access to equipment and a more comfortable training environment should have as much of a positive impact on team morale and chemistry as it does physical training opportunities. The enhanced setup should also help recruit true rowers, something inherently challenging at Dartmouth because of the same force that keeps the Big Green off the water until later in the season: long winters.

“Within the Ivy League, Dartmouth has had the least amount of dedicated indoor training space for rowing, and by a lot,” Big Green lightweight rowing coach Dan Roock said. “Yet given our northernmost location, the crews must train indoors the most.

“This addition will bring us back on par with much of the competition.”

Bordeau and Allen both said they’re committed to competing for Ivy League championships, something the women haven’t accomplished since 1984 and the men’s heavyweight team since 1992. Dartmouth’s men’s lightweight team won the school’s most recent rowing crown 11 years ago.

Project manager Jame Pike — who also oversaw the construction of the new Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, completed last year — said he hopes to break ground on the project with Lyme-based builder Estes & Gallup in early September. It is expected to be available for use beginning in fall 2019.

Jared Pendak can be reached at or 603-727-3225.

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