The seven founders (known as the Charter Members) were members of Carolina Masters Crew Club. All of them were dreaming of a bigger lake, the longest straight stretch of University Lake is just shy of 1000 meters.

Felix has been exploring safe access for rowers to Jordan Lake since 2006. It took a change of ownership in Crosswinds Marina in 2012 and the negotiation talent of William to finally achieve it. John, co-owner of Crosswinds Boating Center, allowed us to first store rowing shells, then to extend his dock with a low profile rowing dock, and finally to build racks. We are eternally thankful for his generosity.

The Men’s Team of Carolina Masters got permission from the club’s board to move to and row on Jordan Lake, thus relieving the crowded situation on weekends on University Lake.

In fall of 2013, the first fundraiser was done to pay for the rowing dock. The $8,000 came together pretty quickly (thank you! to everybody who contributed). Since Christmas 2013 there is a rowing dock from which shells up to a 4+ can safely launch. A longer dock cannot be safely attached to the the existing dock because of the winter storms from the West. Building and anchoring a new permanent rowing dock at Crosswinds would require a lengthy permitting process (that is why we are pursuing our alternative plan at Bells Landing).

With the dock and its possibility to dry launch rowing shells, rowers male and female, scullers and sweep rowers started to row on Jordan Lake.

In March of 2014, the Men’s team was informed by the Bord that there was no longer was room for them in Carolina Masters. Interpretations of this decision ranged from “they kicked out the men” to “they initiated the new club”.

Fact is, that on July 4th 2014 a new, independent club called CHaOS Rowing emerged. Initial membership was 9. It has prospered ever since.

The founding members needed to define a vision for the club. The unanimous feeling was that the club should

  • focus on experienced rowers of all kinds

  • refrain from offering learn-to-row

  • not offering junior rowing

  • become a club known for its good rowing and its lack of club politics.

These principles have been confirmed over and over in our strategy meetings and Annual Meetings.

Our generous members continue to make good rowing possible by providing the club with high-end, professional equipment.

In late summer of 2014, we were approached by 2 parents who wanted to start a Junior Rowing team. We enabled their initiative by letting them use our equipment and the facilities we built, as well as supported their first outing with our rowers and ergs. In 2015 they became Jordan Lake Rowing Club.

The first time CHaOS became known to a wider audience was in October 2015 when we brought the Stampfli Express, the world’s longest rowing shell, to Jordan lake (Felix and William also helped the Stampfli team with their tour though the entire USA). We had almost 200 people taking advantage of this unique opportunity.

The visit of the Stampfli Express also was the occasion for the first CHaOS Challenge: a FUN head race in the UK style (handicapped starts) where all ages, rowing styles, and age groups compete in one and the same race.

The CHaOS Challenge has been one of the highlights of our rowing hear ever since. Unfortunately, the flooded lake made us cancel the 2018 edition.

Since fall of 2018 we are also supporting/responsible for adaptive rowing on Lake Crabtree as part of USRowing’s Freedom row initiative. This is still an evolving adventure. We partner with Bridge2Sport aiming to establish a safe, healthy, and sustainable program. Our members Sheri, Bob, and Simon spearhead the initiative.

We thank them, and all our other members, who have with their persistence, enthusiasm, and generosity made CHaOS a success!

Why the name CHaOS Rowing?

The “legal” name of our organization is Chatham Amateur Oars Society, doing business as CHaOS Rowing.

We fell for the term “CHAOS” because Tim (one of the 7 founders of CHaOS) postulated prior to the 2013 HOOCH that even the best plans end in chaos. He turned out to be right: all Saturday rowing was cancelled due to weather. All the training was in vain!

We had a great time anyway - most of it was spent to hatch the idea of making Jordan Lake accessible to rowers and founding a club focused on rowing, not the politics rowing clubs are notorious for.

The name CHaOS turned out to be a great marketing move. Good rowers see the humor in a club daring to call itself chaos and have no hesitations contacting us. After all, we work really hard to make sure we are CHaOS just by name.

What is important to us:

  • Amateur: for the love of the sport

  • Oar: sweep and sculling

  • Society: in the Victorian sense of the word: “a group of like-minded collaborating to advance their cause”.

We have an ongoing competition to turn CHaOS into meaningful acronyms. Here are a few that came up over time:

  • Clearly Happier Amateur Oar Society

  • Clearly Hairy and Old Scullers

  • Chattanooga Always Outshines Sarasota - expressing our admiration for how well the Head of the Hooch is organized and how much the venue in Sarasota still has to learn.

If you searched for CHaOS rowing online, you most likely found the following video. We are in no way related to these - try hard to never have fails like this - but still think it is worthwhile watching to prevent it from ever happening again: