THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
< Back to front page Text size +

Malden River home to Gentle Giants

Posted by Alix Roy  May 18, 2010 09:04 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

For the Gentle Giant Rowing Club, paddling on the Charles River is like driving south on Route 1 at 8 a.m. on a weekday. Too much stopping, too much traffic.

“With the Charles you have dozens of rowing clubs, pleasure boats, kayaks, and canoes,” said Gentle Giant member Rich Whelan. “When you go through the bridges you're stopping all the time. Even if you're just learning it gets frustrating.”

Many rowers based in the Boston area consider the Charles to be the only option for water-based recreation, a misconception that Whelan and his crew aim to correct. As one of 10 members of the club's board of directors, he's trying to spread the word that rowing on the Mystic and Malden Rivers is not only accessible, it's enjoyable.

“Ninety-five percent of the time, we're the only ones on the water,” Whelan said of his club's daily morning rowing classes. “We're the only club.”

Gentle Giant was founded in 2002 by Northeastern rowers Gracio Garcia and Allan Gehant. With financial help from Gentle Giant Moving Company founder Larry O'Toole, an avid rower, the nonprofit club began offering rowing classes and programs on the Mystic River. A few years ago, it relocated to Malden.

Aside from offering youth and adult classes and working with high school crew teams from Somerville and Malden, Gentle Giant has made it a point to help promote the Malden River, which Whelan said is severely underutilized. A recent walk with a friend from Everett along its banks proved his point.

“He just stood up on the dock and looked both ways and said, 'I had no idea this was here,' ” Whelan said. “That's a comment we get from a lot of people.”

Gentle Giant has partnered with the Mystic River Watershed Association in recent cleanup efforts on the Mystic and Malden Rivers, pulling over 20 bags of trash from its waters last month. A larger scale cleanup conducted as part of the River's Edge development has opened up the river even further. Paddlers can now travel 3 miles without encountering any interruption, Whelan said.

Click here for more information on the Gentle Giant Rowing Club and upcoming events and classes.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article