HISTORY OF KITSAP ROWING ASSOCIATION
Kitsap Rowing Association (KRA), formerly known as Indianola Rowing Association (IRA), was established in 2011 in Indianola, Washington by Bill (William) Richards and a small group of individuals who shared his vision and “can do” attitude. The Club initially rowed on Miller Bay with a 4+ Pocock shell named the “Elan” gifted from Bainbridge Island Rowing. The Club was 24 strong with six dedicated crews; IRA was on the water 6 days a week with Bill Richards coaching every session.
In November of 2011 IRA men’s 4+ placed first in the Frost Bite Green Lake Regatta in Seattle rowing the “Jim McMillin,” a 4+ shell belonging to Bainbridge Island Rowing. The following year the Club continued to place in regattas, bringing home medals and ribbons to the little community of “Indianola by the Sea”. Members officially adopted the IRA Bylaws in November 2011 and have never looked back! The Club’s first purchases were a Vespoli 4+ and a Pocock 4+ from Lake Oswego Crew, Oregon. The shells were renamed the “Fennian” and the “Resolute”, respectively; the “Resolute” to describe our coach and founder, Bill Richards.
By 2012 IRA had outgrown Miller Bay and moved to row on Gamble Bay in Port Gamble, Washington. In July of that year the Club was gifted its first 8+ shell, a Dirigo Boat Model SE8+, from the “Tuf as Nails” club in Port Townsend. The “Orange Crush” afforded IRA the chance to establish its Learn to Row program. As winter 2012 approached the Club relocated again, securing the shells at a private dock in Poulsbo. Now fully established in Poulsbo, Indianola Rowing Association was renamed Kitsap Rowing Association and in February 2013 members adopted the KRA Bylaws encompassing greater outreach to Kitsap County; in same year the Club obtained its 501 (c) (3) status. By August of 2013 agreement was reached with the Port of Poulsbo Marina to rent dock space and a meeting/erg room on Front Street adjacent to the marine was secured – to this day the home of KRA.
The Club has always maintained a winter workout program while not on the water. These workouts were originally led by Bill Richards. One cold and stormy evening, January 9, 2014, KRA lost its coach and founder to a heart attack while erging prior to a scheduled workout. Lightning flashed the night skies…. Bill left a “challenge” to carry through his vision. The first Bill Richards Memorial Scrimmage/Regatta was held in Fall of 2014 and hosted by Bainbridge Island Rowing. The event now rotates yearly between Bainbridge Island, Kitsap Rowing Association, and Clam Island Rowing, honoring a man who left a permanent, indelible impression on these rowing organizations. In the summer of 2015 the “York”, a “Millenium ‘99” Vespoli 8+ from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, was gifted by individual members. It was christened the “Bill Richards” at the 2015 Bill Richards Memorial Scrimmage/Regatta hosted by KRA.
Kitsap Rowing Association continues its founder’s vision to provide rowing opportunities to all; bringing out our best and challenging our doubts. We strive to maintain a “can do” attitude built on individuals’ enthusiasm, skills, and talents.