My racing partner Gil Ross and his sisters and brothers grew up in Yonkers and paddled for the Yonkers Canoe Club. They also paddled for Inwood occassionally, and as teenagers trained at Wanda as members of the United States Junior Olympic Sprint Canoe team. They travelled from New York, by bicycle, to Wanda because the electrical power plant on the Hackensack pumped out warm water in the winter and the river did not freeze, allowing them to train year-round...we still have graffiti in the boathouse from the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The Ross clan also trained with the Washington Canoe Club where several of them are members today. Gil's nephews Ian and Gavin Ross of the Washington Canoe Club are USA sprint canoe Olympic hopefuls. Ian just completed the 31-mile Chattajack race in the Tennessee River Gorge paddling in cold, windy conditions on one knee!
Gil was the driving force who helped revive Wanda in the last few years. We needed a place to train when the Hudson became too dangerous in Winter, so a bunch of us followed him to the calm Hackensack. We still have a wood C4 sprint canoe from the 1970s (that we are looking for a home for) and a wood K4. We have Wanda members from Brooklyn and Queens who also paddle at Sebago. We have a few members and associate members who paddle the Schuykill and live in or near Philadelphia. Aside from the canoe and kayak clubs most of us are also affiliated with outrigger and dragon boat clubs so there's a lot of cross referencing. We have outrigger clubs in Hoboken and New York City. We have a beach in Hoboken and a very active community boathouse and club. Apparently we're all a little nuts - but no more crazy as all those paddlers were over a hundred years ago on the Hudson and surrounding rivers.
The history of these canoe clubs is fascinating. It is important to know our history especially while it seems that we are growing again.