The VIRC Masters program is always open to new members. Whether you have rowed before or are just interested in learning more about a fascinating and effective way to be fit, make friends, and spend time between the sky and the water as the sun rises, we’d like to hear from you.

In rowing, masters are people who are 21 years-old or older; the term has nothing to do with your ability. We’re happy to have members in the 18 to 21 year-old category too; they race in the open division.  If you haven’t rowed before, you’ll be a novice master – a subtle introduction to the paradoxical, meditative side of the sport.  At many regattas, you are officially a novice for two years, an indication of why rowing can be such a compelling pursuit. It may look simple, but there is no end to the layers of understanding and opportunities for improvement.

Like other sports for adults, master rowers can compete head-to-head against people in their age bracket. There is an age adjustment system so 65 year-olds can trounce 40 year-old whippersnappers in multi-age events – which they often do!  And unlike most sports, men and women rowers can compete on the same team, in mixed boats.

While many of the VIRC Masters train with the goal of competition, there are also technical rowing practices that focus more on enjoyment, basic conditioning, and developing competence on the water. We want to accommodate as many levels of interest and ability as we can.

Questions? Read on!

Learn-To-Row Classes

The Club offers a multi-day class in the summer that introduces new rowers to basic technique, starting on rowing machines, ergs, in the Boathouse and progressing to rowing boats on the water. This is a good way to get a feel for rowing so you can decide if you want to pursue it. Watch for announcements in The Beachcomber about the next class.

Practice Times

Practice times vary during the year as the light changes. In the winter, we workout indoors during the week and row on Saturday mornings. As we move into spring and it gets lighter, we nudge the practices a little later so that we can get on the water. Once it’s light early enough, we are on the water whenever it’s not too windy or foggy.

Typical schedule (all practices are in the morning, when the water is the calmest):

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 5:30 – 7:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Thursday 6:30 – 8:00 a.m.
  • Friday 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. technique focused row
  • Saturday 7:00 – 9:00 a.m.

The men tend to practice on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; the women have higher attendance on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but everyone can attend all of the practices.

All of our rowing practices start at the Boathouse at Jensen Point on the Burton Peninsula. In the winter our indoor practices are at nearby Camp Burton, in Grisham Hall.


Here is an example of how expenses for a year of rowing break out for someone who attends most practices and races in most regattas:

Club Dues


Biannual payments. Covers coaching, equipment purchases, maintenance and admin expenses
Boat Use fees


 $4 per row; payable quarterly
US Rowing


 Annual membership, required for the Club’s  insurance; see
Regatta fees

(6 regattas/year)


Registration, coach, and boat fees, boat transport; $0  if you don’t race
Regatta expenses


Personal transportation, food, lodging (four nights for two away regattas); $0 if you don’t race
Rough Annual Total


$1,395 if you don’t race. Cheaper than therapy, right?

VIRC uniform items: $50 – $250+ one time, depending on how decked-out you like to be.


Whether or not you attend regattas is up to you. The Masters typically go to five or six regattas each year. Three or four are in the Seattle/Tacoma area and are on a weekend day. The Northwest Masters Regional Championships regatta in late June takes place over three days (two nights), usually in Vancouver, Washington. There is a two-day/two-night regatta in Victoria, BC on the last weekend in October that we usually attend, too.  The away regattas are particularly fun.

What To Wear?

Appropriate clothing is the key to exercising comfortably on the water. Especially in winter, you will want layers that you can peel off as you warm up.  Avoid cotton clothing – it is worse than useless when it gets wet!

  • Polypropylene or performance wool shirts
  • Water-resistant windbreaker (consider high-visibility material)
  • Fleece hat
  • Spandex shorts or leggings
  • Wool, polypropylene, or neoprene socks

We walk into the water to launch our boats from the beach at Jensen Point, so you will need water shoes of some sort to protect your feet from the rocks. Crocs and Tevas are popular in the summer; add neoprene socks or neoprene booties in the winter.


For many of us, the social component of rowing in this club is at least as important as the exercise. We are big fans of going to the Burton Coffee Stand and the Coffee Roasterie after practice, and a few of us have been seen having a beer or eating breakfast together in town from time to time.  If you ever need a bunch of people with pickup trucks and strong backs, your teammates are an email away.

Beyond the conditioning and the camaraderie, there is something transcendent that happens when everyone truly synchronizes their movements in harmony with the boat.  Those moments are the Holy Grail of rowing. At our level they aren’t a given in every row, but just a taste of that feeling is enough to keep us coming back.

Still interested?

Tell us a bit about yourself. Your note will be forwarded to several people, and one of us will get back to you to help you get off to a smooth start with VIRC Masters rowing.

  • If you’re an experienced rower, why not join us right away?
  • If a Learn-To-Row class is coming up, that may be a good next step.
  • No Learn-To-Row class coming soon? We often bring on new rowers by having a few experienced rowers give them “private seminars” on the erg and in a boat to get them up to speed enough so they can start benefitting from regular practices. It’s an investment we’re happy to make!
  • Another option is to discuss having private lessons with Richard.

Richard welcomes interested people in the launch to watch a practice.  New rowers are welcome to two free rows during a team practice before making a decision to join the club.

Membership Inquiry

Richard welcomes interested people in the launch to watch a practice.  New rowers are welcome to two free rows during a team practice before making a decision to join the club.

Thanks for your interest in the VIRC Masters Rowing Program. 

Rowing is a great sport – come and join us!

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