Merrily Down the Lake

Photo by Leslie Rowland

Leslie Rowland is a painter and tastemaker who cofounded London District Studios in Asheville. Not content to make a splash in just two areas, she and her husband Wade Oppliger recently launched Lake Lure Racing and Rowing Retreats. Rowland says she’s partnering with the town — especially an enthusiastic Mayor Kevin Cooley — and with US Rowing to implement a serious competitive operation. “The rowing club will be small, open to advanced master rowers with private boats,” states Rowland. “The retreats will bring advanced masters from other clubs and regions to participate in coached seminars and for rowing sessions on Lake Lure.”

It all sounds quite elite, but Rowland adds, “We’re creating a new approach to rowing seminars that is inclusive of rowers’ families and partners. The intensive rowing segment will take place in the mornings, allowing participants the rest of the day and evening to enjoy organized tours and individual exploration of the Lake Lure area. Organized family excursions will be available. More adult-centric activities like winery and brewery tours will also be available.”

Once they establish a boatyard at the lake, regattas will be public events. “People love to watch the boats being rowed, and launching and docking. It’s a beautiful sport with a lot of cool equipment.”

Spectators can get their proverbial feet wet at this month’s Lake Lure Spring Classic Boat and Car Show, when the Lake Lure Racing Club will display its boats and host exhibition rows. “We even plan on getting Mayor Cooley and some of the other town officials out in the exhibition rows,” according to Rowland. “This should be pretty funny, since we have to water launch until the lower docks we need are built. It will be a miracle if we don’t flip the boats with the Mayor in tow.”

— M.J. MacAodh

The Lake Lure Spring Classic Boat and Car Show happens Friday, May 10, 3-4:30pm, and Saturday, May 11, 10am-4pm. Free. For more information, see

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