Get out your regatta flags and your best boating cap — this June 15, the Gowanus Dredgers will take on the Red Hook Boaters in the first Gowanus Challenge, the only boating race we’ve ever known to take place entirely in a polluted, smelly Superfund site.
The 2 1/2-mile round-trip race will be similar to better-known regattas in England and Boston in concept only. In Brooklyn, intrepid kayakers will get a slug’s-eye view of a malodorous corpse of waterway once used as an industrial dumping ground.
Scientists have found mercury, lead, chromium and even gonorrhea in the canal nicknamed Lavender Lake.
And yet! People do boat in this disgusting waterway. (A very small number of people have lived in houseboats there, as well.) And this regatta will hopefully make the canal a little less disgusting; the race is a fundraiser for the Gowanus Dredgers’ Canoe Club, so canoe teams are being asked to raise $500 and kayakers $200. There’s no cash prize or anything; the awards banquet will feature “a specially designed Artisinal [sic] Superfund Pizzas produced in Brooklyn that feature exotic ingredients from around the world.” Superfund pizza. Mmm.
Also, you don’t have to wear a shirt, but pants are preferred. And really, you want to wear both. There’s gonorrhea in that water.