Beginner Classes

Come and learn to row on beautiful Lake Merritt. There are two types of rowing - sculling and sweep. Scullers hold one oar in each hand and can scull in singles, in doubles (two people), or in quads (4 people). Sweep rowers row with two hands on one oar and row in pairs, in fours or in eights.

Lake Merritt Rowing Club (LMRC) provides an introduction to rowing through beginner sculling classes that are taught in singles. After successful completion of the sculling class, scullers have the opportunity to row by themselves or row with others during the coached practices of the Basic Sculling Group. In addition, sculling class graduates get the chance to try sweep rowing either through the Novice/Recreational Team or by signing up for one of the sweep rowing clinics regularly offered for club members.


$190 per session - Includes 3 days of instruction, a 1-month trial membership following the class, and free access to coached practices with the Novice/Recreational Team and the Basic Sculling Group during the 1-month trial membership.

Participants must be 18 or older, and are required to complete a swim test before the first day of the sculling class.

There is a maximum weight for rowers in our teaching boats of 220 lbs. Rowers need to have the flexibility to squat for getting in and out of the boat.

Program Description

The beginner classes teach new rowers the basics of sculling in a small-group setting, using entry-level, single-person boats (Maas Aeros). The classes cover equipment handling and safety, getting in/out of the boat, stroke sequence, backing, turning, and docking. No prior rowing experience is needed.

Download and print the Sculling Handbook (42 MB PDF) for a detailed guide to sculling.

After successfully completing a sculling class, participants are cleared to row the Club's Maas Aeros on their own anytime during daytime hours.** In addition, a follow-up clinic is offered for recent class graduates who would like a little more practice in a group setting. This typically takes place on the fourth Saturday of the month, but please check with your instructor during your session.

** If you take a long break from rowing between graduating from a sculling class and joining LMRC, you might be required to have an additional checkout with one of our instructors before joining the club. Checkouts are scheduled as private lessons; therefore, standard private lesson fees apply.

Sculling Class Schedule - Fall and Winter 2018

Sculling Session 11A
Saturday, November 3: 1pm-4pm
Sunday, November 4: 10am-1pm
Sunday, November 11: 10am-1pm
Sculling Session 11B
Saturday, November 17: 1pm-4pm
Sunday, November 18: 10am-1pm
Sunday, November 25: 10am-1pm
Sculling Session 12A
Saturday, December 1: 1pm-4pm
Sunday, December 2: 10am-1pm
Sunday, December 9: 10am-1pm
Rain make-up days: Sat, Dec 15; Sun, Dec 16

Classes will resume in Spring 2019. The schedule for the spring classes will be posted at a later time.

Class Registration

Participants are required to attend all three classes in their session and to be at each class for the entire three hours.

Sessions may be cancelled if enrollment does not meet a minimum of three participants.

If your preferred session is full, please e-mail to request a notification if a spot opens up.

If you are already signed up for a session but would like to switch into an earlier session, please send an e-mail to the same address and your registration will be automatically moved if a spot becomes available.

To inquire about alternative class dates, small group instructions, or private lessons, please contact us at

Swim Test (Important)

Participants must pass a swim test and email the completed form to BEFORE the first day of the sculling class.

The swim test form and information regarding where to take the test can be found by clicking HERE.

Class Refund Policy

In the event that you can no longer make your registered session, please e-mail us as soon as possible at Sculling session fees are nonrefundable, but you may transfer*** your registration to another sculling session with open spots.

  • More than two weeks before the course start date: Registration is transferable to another course.
  • Within two weeks of the start date: A transfer fee of $80 will be charged to transfer your registration.
  • Less than 24 hours notice of course start date (or no-show): 100% of the course fee is forfeited unless a participant on the waitlist can take your place, in which case you may transfer your registration to a new session; $80 transfer fee applies.

*** The session you transfer into must take place within one year of your registration date and must have openings available at the time your request is processed (usually within 24 hours).

Participants are required to attend all three classes in their session and to be at each class for the entire three hours. There are no make-up sessions. If a participant misses a class, it is the responsibility of the participant to contact the instructor to arrange private lessons to complete the sculling class curriculum; standard private lesson fees apply.

Additional Sculling Class Information

Sculling classes are held at Lake Merritt Rowing Club, which is located at 1520 Lakeside Drive. We are in the same building as the Lake Chalet Restaurant, and the boathouse entrance is on the south side of the restaurant (to the right when you stand in front of the Lake Chalet entrance).

What to expect

The first day of class is at the dock. Students practice in a boat while the boat is being held near the dock by a fellow student.

On the second and third days, participants row around the lake, accompanied by an instructor in a launch giving rowing instructions and directions.

For successful completion of the class, all participants will have to demonstrate correct stroke sequence, backing, turning, and docking. The ability to dock safely, and to get into and out of the boat correctly, must be mastered before the students will be allowed the use of the club boats.

What to bring

Please wear layered, close-fitting clothing. Loose clothing may get caught in the oar handles or seat tracks and create a danger for the rower. Bring a hat, water bottle, and sunscreen. Socks are required to wear in the boat.