After trying her hand at Navesink River Rowing, Vilardi found her sport. “I’ve been rowing and racing and having a fantastic new life after retirement.” “It’slike camping on water,” said Chuck Parker of Middletown about the 36- footsailboat the Helen Rita. “We don’t have a washer or dryer but we have everythingelse.” When KayVilardi retired from her job in software engineering 20 years ago she was 52and looking for a pastime. By Judy O’Gorman Alvarez In addition to opening up a world of friendship, camaraderie and a new community on the water, rowing has kept her fit. “It’s a whole-body workout.” A physical therapist’s suggestions for a running injury convinced Graham Wisdom of Lincroft to try yoga six years ago and he quickly made it part of his fitness routine. While taking classes at Ohanala in Fair Haven, owner and instructor Kristin Gould introduced him to SUP yoga. Whencasual paddles on the river turned to competition, she found results. “I wonthe first medal I ever won in my life,” she said. “I was thrilled.” THE ROWER Classesstart off slowly, Wisdom explains and credits Gould for instilling confidencein her students. “You’re sitting on the board, you’re twisting and it graduallygets harder – such as doing a downward dog – and it’s a little challenging. Butas you start trying stand-up poses, then the balance is more tricky. That’swhen you can wind up in the river.” “It’scertainly part of my life, I tried to incorporate my kids into that.” This article was first published in the May 23-29, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times. THE SAILOR In warm weather Chuck and his wife Helen, married 51 years, spend most of their free time on the water and share the sailing duties. “One individual can sail, but that’s not as much fun,” Parker said. As members of the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club, the couple sails alone, but also with the club in group sails. Whatthey most enjoy is sitting on the deck, enjoying dinner as the sun is setting. THE STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDER If you’reholding a class, you anchor all the boards about 10 feet apart.” The waterhas always been a part of Thompson’s life. “My dad’s a lifelong surfer and hehad me in a lifejacket on the nose of a surfboard when I was 3 years old. Mymom works for Clean Ocean Action. They’ve instilled in me the importance of theocean environment and giving back – especially the area we live in surroundedby water.” “It’s sopeaceful on the river, especially in the morning,” Vilardi.The drawbacks of rowing on the river can be larger, sometimes aggressive boats.“We sit low in the water and we don’t make noise,” she says of the 30-poundshell she rows. “And you have to watch out for Jet Skiers and motorboats.”Navesink River Rowing, a nonprofit, offers lessons for adults and a robustyouth program. Among the club’s projects is an outreach program. “We want togive kids a chance to be on the water who can’t afford it,” Vilardi said.“This is sport that’s doable for any age – from 14 to 80,” she said. “It’sphysical and mentally clearing.” Holding aSUP yoga class depends on a few factors. “Look at the wind forecast. You wantthe water to be flat and calm,” he said. “You have to anchor in a shelteredarea. Scullingis a form of rowing with two oars, a narrow boat, called a shell, with a slidingseat. Vilardi, who now serves as president of the club, says after takinglessons, members can use the club’s fleet of singles, doubles or quads duringthe season: May through November. Launching from the clubhouse at the foot ofMaple Avenue in Red Bank, the club provides access to the Navesink River. “When I’msurfing, it brings a calmness. The waves are really good and we’re having fun,and as much as energy is involved it’s a relaxing activity as well. You go out,you decompress, you shake out the grime and grease of the day and any troublesand let it go at the shoreline and you focus on the task at hand – catching waves,literally being in nature.” THE SURFER Thompson and his wife have gained a horde of surfing friends, a basement full of surfboards and over the years, he has surfed all over the world, including up and down the East Coast, California, Hawaii, Australia, mainland Mexico, Fiji and South Africa. “It’s an individual sport – almost a selfish sport – but you’re doing it with your friends and there’s a community and there’s a lot of camaraderie.” Ohanalaholds SUP classes on the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers. As muchas Thompson enjoys surfing and a day at the beach, picking up a piece ofgarbage is just as important. You would be surprised how seldom that happens, Wisdom said, but admits the last time he was in a class, he took a tumble into the water. “I was standing on my head,” he explained. It’s a fun challenge but the best part is the relaxation at the end,” said Wisdom. “After you do a sequence of things, you typically lie down on the board and it’s gently rocking on the water. And you look at sky and birds are flying. It’s wonderful.” “Paddle boarding is surprisingly easy,” said Wisdom, a retired electrical and software engineer. “As long as it’s not a windy day, to paddle along the river is wonderful relaxation and you can be home in an “We goout for an hour or so and go to the Oceanic Bridge and back – 7 miles roundtrip,” she said. “We love the time to ourselves.” hour.”Wisdom said he especially enjoys paddling along the Navesink River and seeing thegrand homes along the banks. “When you live where we live it’s wonderful to seehow the other half lives.” Payingattention to the weather and the winds, Vilardi and fellow members, usually ina quad, make the most of a summer morning on the Navesink before temperaturesrise. “When Iwent to RBC (Red Bank Catholic), they only had softball for women who are myage now,” Vilardi said. Watching her nephew row crew in high school and collegewhet Vilardi’s interest. “Welive a mile from the harbor so in the morning when the sun’s out and it’s anice day, we’ll get out on the water,” Parker said. “It’sfun when we travel with other boats,” he said. After docking, the couples willvisit one another, dine, play board games or dominoes and enjoy the seabreezes.Don’t let the term “yacht club” fool you, said Parker. “We’re average peoplewho happen to have boats.” “We’re a private club but we’re heavily involvedwith the community,” he said. That includes programs for Special Olympicssailing for challenged athletes who may have Down syndrome or autism; a youth sailingprogram; the annual Ms. Race charity race that raises money for 180 TurningLives Around; and a new veteran program that Parker chairs. “We’re not therapybut it’s been found that recreational sailing can help people with PTSD,” hesaid (post-traumatic stress disorder).About once a month the club will have longer cruises to locations such asStaten Island or Sheepshead Bay. They’ve also gone on longer voyages, such asLong Island Sound, and some members will go to Boston or Block Island, RhodeIsland.Being dependent on the wind can make a journey slow, but that can be half thefun. Another key point with sailing is to watch the weather forecasts as stormscan be a sailor’s nightmare. “When it’s August and if we’re out, we don’t wantto be someplace where you can get into trouble. You have to be flexible,” hesaid. “We’ve stayed a night in Connecticut because the weather was bad.” “Surfinghas given me a lot of enjoyment,” said Tyler Thompson of Leonardo. “I try toget in the water as much as possible, not as much as I used to, having two kidsand a full-time job.” There arethose who enjoy SUP – or stand-up paddle boarding – and those who enjoy yoga.And then there are those who combine the two. “It’s relaxing being out on the water,” Wisdom said. “As long as you pick your day” and pay attention to the weather.