Organizations & Boathouses
University of Michigan Men and Women have rowed on Argo Pond beginning in the 1800's. AARC began in the mid 80's as Arbor Rowing followed by Huron High School and Pioneer High School. Skyline High formed a team in 2008.
The main groups represented among those rowing on the Huron River:
- The Ann Arbor Rowing Club (AARC)
- Huron High School Crew
- Pioneer High School Crew
- Skyline High School Crew
- The University of Michigan Men's Rowing Team
The AARC, Huron, and Pioneer clubs share space in the community boathouse since 2001, while the U of M team has a separate boathouse built in the late 1970's. These boathouses are located next to Bandemer Park's South parking lot, off Lakeshore Drive by the Lotus Building on North Main St. Both structures are pole barns, and are wired for electricity. Bandemer Park has a vault toilet near the bike path and the rowing dock. Skyline High School crew rows off of docks located on the Concordia University campus.
The season begins in early March, whenever the ice behind Argo Dam breaks up to the point where rowing shells can be safely launched. The floating dock is usually installed shortly after the U of M Men's team returns from their spring break training trip, and shells are on the water soon after. During the early season, rower safety is of great importance, and appropriate precautions are taken to guard against the possibility of hypothermia. For example, the AARC prohibits club members from taking more unstable sculling shells onto the water unless the water temperature exceeds 50F and the air and water temperature combined exceed 90F.
From the chilly beginnings of the season, rowing continues on through the summer. There is a "Learn-To-Row Day," sponsored by the AARC and the UM Men's Team, which typically takes place in Mid-May. The programs welcome those who have never rowed before to visit Bandemer, where they are instructed free of charge on the basics of rowing by AARC and UM rowers and coaches. The day culminates with a trip on Argo Pond in a rowing shell. Another highlight of the season is the Michigan Club Invitational (MCI), a race organized by the AARC which bills itself as the "State Championship of Club Rowing." It is usually held on a Saturday in mid-July; the 2006 edition was July 22nd. Rowing clubs from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Bay City, Wyandotte, and elsewhere in the state bring shells to race on Argo Pond. By late summer, weed growth on the some parts of the Huron, can become so thick it may limit access to some otherwise navigable stretches of water.
The rowing season continues through the Fall. The last event on the Huron is a biennial race between the University of Michigan Men's Team and a team from The Ohio State University, dubbed the Wolverbuck Oar. The two schools meet in whatever city hosts the UM/OSU football game that year. As of the 2005 running of the Wolverbuck Oar, UM holds a 12-2 record against OSU. Whether the contest is held in Ann Arbor or Columbus, the floating dock is removed after the Wolverbuck Oar.
Navigable Water on the Huron
The boathouses are located at Bandemer Park, on Argo Pond. From the boathouses, there is approximately 500m of water downstream until Argo Dam. Argo Pond itself is nearly 1km long exactly. The races for the MCI are held on Argo Pond, in a straight 1km line. There is enough room on Argo Pond to race three boats side-by-side for that 1km distance. At the northern end of Argo Pond, the Huron curves west, and passes under four bridges in quick succession. In order, they are: the M-14 bridge bridge between exits 3 & 4, the combination footbridge/carbridge linking Barton Drive with Bandemer Park's North parking lot, the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge, and the footbridge linking Barton Nature Area to Huron River Drive. Navigating these bridges is tricky for some inexperienced scullers and coxswains, as the angles of the Bandemer bridge and the NSRR bridge require an abrupt right-left-right jog if going upstream and the opposite coming down. After a little experience they make the trip without incident. Above the bridges, the river follows Huron River Drive up to Barton Dam, where all rowers stop and turn around. The distance from Argo Dam to Barton Dam is about 2miles, or 3km.
Success of Ann Arbor Rowers
Since the U of M club team in began their modern era in 1976, there have been many notable rowers who began rowing on Argo Pond. First is Michael Perry, an Ann Arbor native and Pioneer graduate who rowed at Massachusets Institute of Technology, and then returned to Ann Arbor and began rowing competitively as a single sculler. He has finished near the top of the US National Team Trials for several years, and has also placed near the top of the prestigious Head of the Charles regatta in Boston.
Former University of Michigan rower Steve Warner has represented the United States in both World Championship and Olympic competition. He won a Gold Medal at the 2000 FISA World Championships in Croatia, rowing in the Men's Lightweight 8, a Bronze Medal in the 2003 World Championships in Italy, rowing the Men's Lightweight 4-, and represented the US at Athens in 2004, finishing 9th in the Men's Lightweight 4-.
Another former U of M rower doing well internationally is Matthew Hughes. Hughes won a Silver Medal at the 2005 World Championships in Japan in the Men's 4+. He represented the US in the Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x) in the 2006 and 2007 World Championships and finished 5th at the 2008 Olympics.
The University of Michigan Men's Crew team has enjoyed considerable success as a team as well. The highlight was the 2002 season, where the U of M team finished 6th in the nation at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships in Cherry Hill, NJ. The 2002 team included a Silver Medal performance by the Freshman 8. Michigan's team is a club program, receiving little funding aside from the University's general extra-curricular activites fund. The 6th place finish of the 2002 team, and the Silver Medal from the Freshman 8, remain the highest finish of any club (non-varsity) program at the national championship in overall competition, and in any 8-oared race to this date. UMRT is now a Club Varsity team.