The Bair Island Aquatic Center (BIAC) was formed in the fall of 1999 as a 501(c)3 corporation. We were formerly a group of masters rowing enthusiasts known as the Stanford Rowing Club (SRC) where we had several racks of shells outdoors at Stanford's old boat house in the 1990's. Early in 1999 Stanford cleared their land to enable construction of their current $6.2M beautiful boat house, whereby a core team from SRC began the quest to find a new home while our shells were kept in trusted locations (founders back yards).
In the summer of 1999 we were introduced to the long time owner of the South Bay Boat Works who leased the land from a local cement company, Pacific RMC. We signed a lease and agreed to acquire the facilities and equipment. This included today's 30' x 60' shed inside of which were the tools and materials to maintain boats - lots of special wood, large power tools, nasty chemicals, and the attendant mess that comes with working with these materials. The boat yard had several hundred boat stands in it and a special crane called a Travel Lift used to Haul Out boats for yard repair. The docks were aging and included some dozen live-aboard tenants on both the north and south docks.
Initially BIAC had about 100 founding members and 50 shells, both private and club owned. We worked diligently to sell a lot of equipment, recycle what could not be sold, and to responsibly dispose of the hardardous materials we had acquired. We cleared the boat yard and erected some old and new racks built of 2" galvanized pipe on which to store our growing family of shells. Our first big purchase was a Candock - a dock low and large enough from which to launch rowing shells. We then had a new 12' wide ramp built to an expanded dock pad that would allow safe handling of 60' long shells to and from the water. In short, we transformed a hard use of the land into an environmentally mitigating purpose and began building our community aquatic programs.
The Bair Island Aquatic Center is governed by a constitution of Bylaws and a board of five meeting monthly who served staggered two year elected terms. Our charter includes the following objectives and purposes:
- To teach and promote amateur rowing and other non-motorized aquatic activities to the young people of the San Francisco peninsula in order to provide an athletic outlet that fosters physical and character development; including physical health, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and constructive use of time.
- To teach and enhance the awareness of the environmental sensitivity of the local waterways and to promote responsible, low-impact use of these waterways. To sponsor and participate in community programs geared to environmental preservation of the local waterways.
- To maintain a nucleus of adults to provide the coaching and technical skills and the financial and community support necessary for successful conduct of the Center and, in order to assure the continued involvement of such persons in the Center, to provide instructional and competitive programs for adult athletes.
BIAC is financially buoyant, well governed, and expands its programs whenever possible. We repaid $120K over four years from 1999 and began our own juniors and adult novice programs in 2002. Junipero Serra High School joined us in 2002 and NorCal (fka Silicon Valley Crew) joined us in 2004. Stanford Kayaking joined us in 2005, as did a chapter of the CDBA (California Dragon Boat Association). We are a diverse and talented membership passionately serving the community.
Statistically, BIAC is comprised of 25% adult sweep rowers, 15% adult scullers, 16% paddling (kayak and outrigger), and 44% junior rowing programs. Each year we run the Fall Regatta for over 150 crews, marking the finale of the fall rowing season in California. BIAC master rowers train hard and compete at many national and international venues, including the Head of the Charles, US Nationals, and the San Diego Classic. For paddling we run the Wave Chaser series and the US Surf Ski Championships in addition to sponsoring many other local competitions.
BIAC has a volunteer culture and community focus. Each year we hold events that benefit groups such as the Second Harvest Food Bank, At Risk Teens, and we award about $6k in scholarships to juniors each year so that they may row in high school. We have held many Learn To Row (LTR) days for the community and hold month long intense classes during warmer months open to everyone. We have held discrete, safe, and fun events for socially and financially challenged groups over the years, and we contribute to regular Save The Bay events interested in maintaining the sanctity of and restoring tidal flow to the marine sanctuary of Bair Island.