Rowing, sailing clubs welcome lake reopening

The first watercrafts to sail Tempe Town Lake in months set off Tuesday morning as the newly filled lake reopened after a broken dam was repaired.

Rowers swarmed the marina before the official opening at 6 a.m., washing oars and stretching as they prepared for the first outing onto the lake in months.

The lake reopened on schedule after four months of inactivity due to a burst dam on July 20. The original reopening date was scheduled for Nov. 1, which was moved up to Oct. 25 after water began to refill the lake earlier this month.

ASU’s sailing and rowing clubs were each forced to find alternatives to using the lake during the closure.

Photography sophomore Gerald Byrnes was at the lake as it opened, and was launching sail boats with the ASU Sailing Club as part of the club’s first outing on the lake.

State Press Television By Samantha Cary

This Saturday will be the club’s first practice of the semester on Tempe Town Lake, as they have been using Lake Pleasant in Peoria and McKellips Lake in Scottsdale during the interim, Byrnes said.

“McKellips Lake was a great place to practice, but it is nothing compared to what we have at Tempe Town Lake,” said Jake Geller, head coach of the ASU Sailing Club.

The club has continued its competitive efforts in the first intercollegiate regatta of the season over the weekend, winning fourth overall at the meet held in San Diego and hosted by University of California at San Diego, Geller said.

Geller said the dam break has actually increased students’ awareness of the club, adding that the first meeting at the beginning of the semester was one of largest groups of interested students he has seen.

“Unfortunately, it was difficult to have those people come back when there was not a convenient place to practice,” he said.

The ASU Rowing Club also experienced a drop in recruitment, said head coach Ken Donnelly, who described the team’s situation as “a hockey team with no ice.”

“However, the people who did show up are extremely motivated individuals who were not going to let lack of water stop them from joining,” he said.

By combining off-the-water practices at the Student Recreation Complex and rowing at different locations in Tempe, Donnelly said the team has been getting in excellent condition in anticipation of the water arriving.

“I am very happy with the motivation they have shown off the water, and think it will carry over … now that we are back on the lake,” Donnelly said.

Now that the lake has reopened, Geller said the sailing club hopes to once again take advantage of all the resources they have, including seven boats and a convenient location.

Tempe officials estimate the loss in revenue at $95,000 because of the lake closure and canceled activities, said Travis Dray, deputy manager of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

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