The Open Water Rowing Center (OWRC) was founded by Shirwin Smith in 1985 with four heavy, early design open water shells. OWRC was one of many water-sports housed at Onshore Marine on Schoonmaker Point; shells, kayaks and wind surfers all shared the indoor storage (with pool table and hot tub) and launched from the beach.
Less than a year later, the Onshore Marine building was demolished in preparation for construction of a new marina. OWRC was moved a short distance south on the waterfront to the foot of Napa Street, next to the Gallilee Harbor houseboat community.
After a long year and a half in tight, shared quarters, with temporary sheds for boat storage and where low tide meant no rowing, OWRC moved back to Schoonmaker Point and the new, spacious marina building.
That same year, OWRC – a huge fan of Maas shells – became a Maas Boat Company dealer. Maas shells at that time were a world apart from the other “recreational shells” used on open water; significantly lighter, more responsive and faster. In years that followed, Maas Boat Company regularly upped the ante; as soon as rowers mastered the newest shell design in even the roughest conditions, Chris Maas would be planning a new design that would push rowers’ skills to the next level.
In 2000 OWRC was purchased by forty rowers, and operates today as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). The LLC members are dedicated to preserving a vibrant rowing community and facility in Sausalito. The LLC is managed by a Board of Directors with a President who is elected by the LLC members each year.