Metro Weekly

Stonewall Regatta hits the water this Sunday

Stonewall Regatta kicks off 25th anniversary season for the DC Strokes Rowing Club

DC Strokes - Photo: Courtesy of DC Strokes

DC Strokes – Photo: Courtesy of DC Strokes

“The Stonewall Regatta is not only the start of the sprint racing season, but a celebration of our proud history,” says Bach Polakowski. “It’s really kind of spectacular to see the regatta grow year after year, and to see so many non-LGBT rowing clubs join us to celebrate LGBT access to this sport.”

Polakowski, director of this year’s regatta and a member of the DC Strokes Rowing Club, can’t wait for the oars to hit the water on Sunday, June 5. The 23rd annual Stonewall Regatta will feature a variety of races for different boat types, with 450 entrants from 200 teams, representing more than 20 rowing clubs from across the United States.

The regatta is named after the historic Stonewall Inn, and was first held in New York City in 1994 as part of Gay Games IV, before moving to Washington the following year. Following the day’s racing, DC Strokes will host an after-party for all participants and spectators.

This year also marks a significant milestone for the DC Strokes Rowing Club, which celebrates its 25th anniversary at a gala to be held this fall. That milestone makes it the longest-running LGBT rowing club in the United States.

“I’m grateful that the DC Strokes have been around for 25 years introducing the sport of rowing to hundreds of people in our community,” Polakowski says. “Honestly, there’s not a whole lot of other LGBT clubs that have that distinction. To exist for this length of time really speaks to how the sport is growing.”

The 23rd Annual Stonewall Regatta will take place on Sunday, June 5, with races every 8 minutes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. All races start just north of the 11th Street Bridge and finish at the Anacostia Community Boathouse, 1900 M St. SE. Volunteers are also needed to help any time from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at