New Boathouse Gets Gift and Approval to Row Forward

By Bowdoin News
Bowdoin College is moving ahead with plans for a new boathouse on the New Meadows River.

The project, currently in the design and construction planning phase, is expected to be completed in time for the spring 2025 season.

Boathouse rendering
A rendering of the new boathouse

The new building will replace Smith Boathouse and be located on the same site.

The need for a larger building has grown in recent years as the rowing program has expanded in a variety of ways.

In large part because students can learn to row in college and compete at a high level within a short period of time, the rowing team has steadily grown over the past decade, to a point where there are now upwards of eighty athletes on the roster.

To accommodate this growth, the team's fleet has also increased both in the number of boats and in their size.

To remain competitive and to enhance safety on the water, the team increasingly uses eight-person shells, commonly referred to as 8s or 8+.

Smith Boathouse, dedicated in 2002, was designed only to house ten four-person rowing shells and cannot accommodate the team’s evolution toward larger boats.

As a result, the team’s eights are stored outdoors, unprotected from the elements.

The new boathouse will not only house and protect this equipment but also provide needed improvements, including a team area, accessible restrooms, and a safety shower for warming in the event of a capsize.

Head coach Doug Welling says the passion and work ethic of Bowdoin’s rowers, coupled with the generosity of the program’s many supporters, have yielded many successes in recent years.

“Bowdoin has been well represented on a national and international stage, with gold medal wins at the Head of the Charles, New England Rowing Championships, and Dad Vail Regatta and trips abroad to the Women's Henley and Royal Henley regattas in England,” says Welling, calling spring 2023 an exemplary season.

“Crews on both the men's and women's side were crowned national champions at the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) Championships,” he says.

“The Bowdoin women highlighted their team depth, winning both the Dad Vail Regatta and American Collegiate Rowing National Championship's overall team title.”

Additionally, both Welling and assistant coach Ry Hills were selected as ACRA National Coaches of the Year. 

A New Home

“The new boathouse project allows for continued growth and success of the program,” says Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator Alice Wiercinski, who oversees the crew program.

She uses the word “family” to describe team members past and present who compose “an inclusive group of hardworking and dedicated team members who value speed and humor as parts of their team culture.”

“Those values that guide the team while at Bowdoin continue to be exhibited well after graduation by the supportive, generous, and enthusiastic alumni of the program,” Wiercinski says.

The $2.5 million project is buoyed by a generous gift from an anonymous donor, but the College still must raise remaining funds and will also be looking for new or gently used 8s to help supply the new facility. 

The boathouse will have a name that will be determined at a later date in consultation with the donor.


“On the rowing team we have come to know each other, just a few miles away from campus, on the New Meadows River. Each morning, we slip out of our rooms when it is dark and cold, but by the time the sun has risen and we have stretched the stiffness from our joints, we are thankful to have spent the hours working hard and silently together on the water. Afterward, we relish each other's company in the dining hall, sharing laughter over coffee and warm food as the rest of the campus slowly rises. We wouldn’t trade these mornings for anything. This has been Bowdoin rowing for me.”
Elizabeth Thomas ’24 (captain) 


"Bowdoin rowing just works, but it works because of incredible people who have committed themselves to preserving and upholding something greater than themselves for many generations of Bowdoin students. It gives anyone the chance to develop, train, and compete at a varsity level and to do it with a community of like-minded, yet incredibly unique and wonderful individuals. That’s why I’m here."
Nick Werner ’24 (captain) 


"Bowdoin Rowing has been a highlight of my college experience. It has been my daily dose of nature and a community that values a healthy lifestyle. I could not be more grateful for the structure and discipline of the sport, as well as the connections I have made on this team. Everyone on Bowdoin Rowing today stands on the shoulders of our alumni.” 
Vaishali Miriyagalla ’25