Sailing on Rotterdam’s Kralingse Plas
If you’re interested in sailing in Rotterdam, whether for lessons, renting a boat for an afternoon, or joining a race or sail club, Kralingse Plas is the place to do it.
With summer finally here in the Netherlands, it’s time to start thinking about how to make the most of the good weather. One of the best places to spend a warm afternoon in Rotterdam is the Kralingse Plas, a lake within the wooded area of Kralingse Bos. The lake has a number of sailing associations with enough options to please any level of sailor. If you’re interested in sailing in Rotterdam, whether for lessons, renting a boat for an afternoon, or joining a race or sail club, Kralingse Plas is the place to do it.
Kralingse Plas is located in the centre of the Kralingse Bos, which is a leafy green park, literally translated as Kralingse Forest.
The lake was created after centuries of peat digging for fuel, and by 1895 it was already large enough to be called the North Lake. After WWII , part of the lake was filled in with rubble from the bombed city centre but associations of war will likely be far from the visitor's mind when rambling down one of the many walking paths which dart in and out of woods, across bridges, and over small canals.
Other amenities include a beach (part of which is used for nude bathing) and some quaint restaurants in historical buildings. Around the park you’ll find sports facilities including a rock climbing gym and a hang-glide rope, as well as sports pitches and track, a golf course, two windmills that still grind spices to this day, and several nautical associations. Sailors of any experience or ability are likely to find something to suit them at the Kralingse Plas.
If you don’t own a boat, small sailing club City Sailing Rotterdam, situated just next to the windmills on the eastern side of the lake, offers sailing lessons and boat rentals. The facilities are rudimentary, but the boats are safe and the staff is friendly. Expect to wobble a bit on the odd flotilla of rafts that connects you to the floating trailer that serves as a clubhouse. Rentals are by the hour and per person and vary depending upon what type of boat you want. You can rent a Tirion Multi Purpose or similar (6.25m or about 19ft), for up to eight people, starting at around EUR 29 per person per hour, a rate which slides to EUR 65 for eight people.
Additional hours cost much less than the initial one, so it makes sense to rent the boat for an afternoon. Discounts are applied on weekdays and if you have a sailing diploma. Smaller one-person boats can be rented for EUR 5 per hour. These plastic lake boats effectively zip you around, provide loads of fun and get you wet. Age is no limit and lessons are affordable. Visit www.henkvangent.nl for more information.
The Rotterdam Sailing Association (RZV), located on the southern side of the lake along the Boezemlaan, is a club dedicated to serious racing, as well as recreational sailing. Members own their own boats and moor them at the club—crafts range from yachts to small racing dinghies--and participate in a variety of sailing events. If you want to join but don’t have a boat, you can make use of their website’s for-sale boat listings to find a used one at a fairly affordable rate. This is a good club to go to if your children would like to be or are involved in dingy racing or junior sailing.
RZV hosts large and often ultra-competitive small boat regattas on the lake and in Rotterdam Harbour - sometimes with DJ’s and a party onshore. Many of the RZV events (both in Kralingse Plas and in Rotterdam Harbour) are worth watching, even if you can’t participate. Check out their calendar at http://www.rzv.nl.  ;
Application is simple and membership costs around EUR 130 per year with a EUR 75 sign up fee for a full member, EUR 100 per year with no sign up fee for a “supporting” member, and about EUR 50 per year with no sign up fee for youth members. There are some additional fees for mooring and storing your boat.
Royal Rowing and Sailing Club de Maas (Koninklijke Roei- en Zeilvereeniging De Maas or KR & ZV de Maas) is the oldest sailing and boating association in the Netherlands, and has over 2000 members. It is the swankiest club of the five, and rumour has it that the Prince of Orange and the Mayor of Rotterdam are members.
The club offers junior sailing lessons throughout the summer--you don’t have to be a member to join these--has various sailing teams and racing series, a serious rowing club, and four different facilities around Rotterdam in addition to their clubhouse at the Kralingse Plas (situated along the Boezemlaan). Be forewarned, membership costs are the steepest of the bunch. Visit www.de-maas.nl for more information.
Great Society WSVR, is a smaller club with around 200 members, where fun seems to be the goal. It is less intensively racing focused, but hosts fun regattas, historical regattas, and travelling events for its members. The club also hosts culinary evenings, has a choir, offers regular lectures, and has a bar.
You’ll also need to own your own boat, so ask around at the club to see if any used boats are on offer. If you’re signing up for junior sailing lessons, they provide Opties and 470’s. Opties are one of the best boats to learn in when you’re young, and 470’s are a perfect racing and adventure boat for 12 to 18 year olds, so consider this club if your child wants to learn to sail.
The application process is fairly simple and can be started online, but an interview is necessary. Rates are reasonable because they employ member volunteers to keep costs down. The one time entrance fee is EUR 110 and EUR 50 for a youth member. The annual rate (on top of entrance) is EUR 65 or EUR 30 for youth members. There are additional fees associated with housing your boat at the club, and there is some kind of discount fee for additional volunteer hours. Visit www.wsvr.nl for more information.
The Southern side of the lake is home to the lesser known VZOD Watersportvereniging (010 4524927), Watersportvereniging Boudewina (010 4521240), and Jachthaven Kralingen (010-2125503). If you get the chance, take a scenic bike trip around the lake to get an overview of the facilities at all places and drop in to ask for more comprehensive information.
All in all, the Kralingse Plas is packed with boating options, and if you’ve been dying to experience the national love of sailing in the Netherlands, it’s a good place to start.
Marisol Trowbridge / Expatica
Photo credit: AF-Photography
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