Village to Village Spring Challenge

  • Hosted By: Rochester Community inclusive Rowing
  • 2016 Registered Regatta


BROCKPORT —  The Erie Canal was filled with sculls Saturday, gliding like great oared dragonflies over the water’s shimmering surface.

The seven-mile regatta from Spencerport to Brockport was part of the latter’s five-day Low Bridge, High Water celebration, which featured an official ribbon cutting after the race, marking the 189th consecutive year that the canal has been open for business.

“Our canals bring in more than $380 million a year in tourist dollars alone,” said Brian Stratton, director of the New York state Canal Corp., who arrived with other speakers aboard a historic tugboat. “The canals are still moving cargo, too, with over 100,000 tons ... projected to be shipped in the coming year.”

Sweden resident Donna Randazzo said the canal draws people into town.

“I see people come in on their boats, and they visit the shops and restaurants and just enjoy the small-town atmosphere,” Randazzo said.

Economic benefits aside, the ceremony also iterated the historical significance of the canal.

“This is what opened up the west,” said local historian Bill Andrews. “It’s what made this country a continental power.”

“I think it’s important to remember that these port towns owe the canal a debt,” said Randazzo. “Without it, they probably wouldn’t be here.”

The beauty of the day made it easy to see why the canal is so well-loved by Brockport’s residents. Throughout the ceremony, bikers and pedestrians criss-crossed on the far shore as ducks splashed in the water.

“Every time I come back to town after being away for a while, I’m reminded of just how beautiful they are, the town, the canal,” said Linda Ketchum of Brockport, who walks the towpath on a regular basis. “I always think to myself, ‘I think I’ll stay here a while longer.’ ”

“It’s different here than it is in New Jersey,” said Robin Czachor, who was in town visiting her friend Gail Behrens of Brockport. “There’s an infectious sense of community. When you walk down the street, people know you and they say hi.”

“Everybody is so hustle and bustle now,” added Behrens. “But with events like this, we get to slow down a little and just enjoy the community a little more.”

Perhaps Village Trustee Margay Blackman said it best: “I’ve come to realize what a treasure we have here. The canal has so much more to offer than just recreation; today, we’re recognizing the merging of the past and present.”




2013 Village to Village Spring Challenge Update:

We need participants to please be mindful of a few details:

  1. Check-in at the Spencerport Depot & Canal Museum. 16 EAST AVE | SPENCERPORT, NY 14559 between 7:30-9:00am.
  2. Plan for the time it takes to unload your boat, move your vehicle to Brockport and ride back to Spencerport before preparing to row. Designated volunteers from Brockport will shuttle you back between 8:00-9:15am.
  3. Don't miss JB's meeting at the Gazebo in Spencerport. It starts at 9:30am and will only last 10 minutes but due to the potential hazards on this course, you shouldn't want to miss it. 
  4. Half of the fleet of boats will be launching from the Gazebo dock in Spencerport while the other half launch from the Bernfield dock.
  5. All boats are to head for the warm-up area upon launching and pay attention to the time. Staging begins at 10:20am.
  6. The race begins at 10:30am in numerical order. Boats will NOT be taken out of turn so please pay attention to the Marshalls.
  7. There are several other surprises for those competing in the Challenge.... smiley





MAY 4, 2013 Village to Village Spring Challenge:









November 3, 2012 Village to Village Challenge:




Despite November chill, rowers compete on Erie Canal

The first Brockport to Spencerport 2012 Village-to-Village Rowing Challenge started at Brockport. Rowers lined up to launch their sculling boats near the Welcome Center along the Erie Canal where they could warm up before starting the race.More than a dozen sculling boats and more than two dozen rowers raced eastbound on the Erie Canal from Brockport to Spencerport in the 2012 Village to Village Rowing challenge held on a cold and wet November 3. All but one person competing in the challenge was a hard core experienced sculler who has participated in past challenges come rain, now, sleet or hail. The Challenge was organized by Deb Adams and her husband John Bernfield, and supported by the Rochester Community inclusive Rowing (RCiR).

The first Westside Challenge was dedicated to Mike Bannister, who organized past Village-to-Village Challenges on the east side of Rochester before relocating to Massachusetts.

The rowers came from all over the New York state region and from other states including Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. Pim Goodbody, age 75, from Williamstown, Massachusetts, was the oldest participant. He has been coming to the original Challenge on the east side of Rochester for many years and also competes in many of the major as well as minor regattas in the area as a sculler.

The Challenge started on the east side of the Park Avenue lift bridge in Brockport. Here, Mike Bannister, to whom the Challenge was dedicated and who organized past Village-to-Village Challenges on the east side of Rochester, is about to begin his race.The Challenge is a timed boat race for men’s and women’s singles and doubles racing for the fastest time. The race started east of the Park Avenue lift bridge in Brockport, with the doubles starting first, and ending in Spencerport just past the Martha Street bridge.

Rowers about to pass under the Gallup Road bridge.There were 36 volunteers, with the title “Safety Proactive Spectator,” from across Monroe County working behind the scenes and participating in the Challenge. Volunteer fire fighters from Brockport and Spencerport were also on hand during the entire event watching out for the competitors who could have been in harms way had a boat flipped or collided unexpectedly and the sculler was tossed into the cold waters of the Erie Canal.

The following are the first through third place winners of the first Brockport to Spencerport Village-to-Village Rowing Challenge:

•Doubles: First Place Joseph Prosack, Rochester, and Ross Pedersen, Rochester; Second Place Vince Reynolds, East Syracuse, and Lisa Gesinger, Webster; Third Place Tyler Gomez, Lexington, Kentucky, and Will Green, Rochester.

•Men’s Singles: First Place John Bowen, Rochester; Second Place Marty VanDerHeide, Trumansburg; Third Place Mike Bannister, Lowell, Massachusetts.

•Women’s Singles: First Place Laura Civiletti, Rochester; Second Place Teresa Sukiennicki, Rochester, Third Place Alison Reidy, Honeoye Falls.

Text and photos by David Knox