BY GAYLE WILSON
The Canadian Dory Racing Association says it's rowing against the tide and needs more cash to help keep its long-standing and popular competition against American rowers afloat.
"It's part of the Lunenburg heritage. You know, 66 years running," Robert Fox, the association's vice-president, told LighthouseNOW.
He's referring to the International Dory Races between Nova Scotia's best teams of rowers and and those from Gloucester, Massachusetts, which have taken place in June and August since 1952.
"I know a lot of the people in Lunenburg enjoy coming to see it. The unfortunate part is without the funds stuff like this can't continue," he said.
Fox explained that the Nova Scotia rowers are battling the U.S. dollar exchange rate and general inflation which have swollen their annual costs, the bulk of which are associated with the competition in Gloucester.
"It's $7,000 to $10,000 normally, where now it's probably closer to $10,000 to $13,000," said Fox.
About five years ago, through a push by The Dory Shop, the association received corporate sponsorship funds from companies such as Adams & Knickle, Clearwater, Ocean Gear and Comeau Sea Foods.
The funds helped the group build five new dories; four of which have been set aside for the competitions.
The association also created a rowing club, charging $85 per member, to help cover costs. According to Fox, about 25 or 30 rowers have joined.
It's the dories and equipment that are used for the club, which help train and condition the racers, that are aging and most in need of replacing, he says, noting that a pair of oars alone cost about $250.
"Sometimes it doesn't take much to hit a buoy or something else on the water."
Fox says the club now has four dories that are in need of attention.
"In the next three to five years, if we're fortunate to continue, we are going to have to replace those dories. You know, at a cost of $6,000 to $7,000 a dory, it's going to start getting expensive."
Fox says the group hopes to look for corporate sponsors again, however it wants to extend its reach beyond that too.
One of the association's executive members, Lisa Brown-Tanner put a notice on the Lunenburg Community Bulletin Board Facebook page, noting this year marks the 66th one for the annual dory races in Lunenburg.
"And without some fast fundraising quite possibly the last. Our dories all need repair, we need to send rowers to Gloucester to compete and we need new winter storage space," she wrote.
While Fox told LighthouseNOW, "We have a very small group, but sometimes it's just not enough. Sometimes you've just got to get the word out and ask for help."