Santa Barbara County’s Only Community Rowing Program


Mission Rowing is open and running all sessions. We provide Learn to Row sessions for all ages.  Masters (adult), High School, Middle School, and High-Performance Programs are up and running. Programs are currently restricted to singles: one-person boats. Protocols to minimize risk and exposure during the Convid-19 pandemic are in place.

New Offerings (as of July 2021)




Mission Rowing provides instruction and training opportunities for all age groups and skill levels: focusing on the individual athlete, their connection to the boat, and role as part of a team.

Learn to Row

To join an ongoing program or to try the sport, we offer private / semi-private learn-to-row sessions continually through the year. Our system is to get participants familiar with the rowing; it’s challenges and its rewards as quickly as possible.

Middle School Program

Designed to introduce the fundamentals of sculling, (2 oars per person), to Middle Schoolers. Our approach focuses on proper technique and boat handling skills while balancing the atmosphere by providing competitive games and building teamwork and camaraderie to keep the age group engaged.

High School Team

This competitive racing program focuses on developing the individual and the team to the highest level of their ability to represent Mission Rowing at regional, national and international regattas.

We Need Your Help!

Mission Rowing operates near a break-even basis. The cost of scholarships and capital expenses are extensive. Your donations help provide new racing shells, launches, scholarship opportunities for those in need, ergs, RP3s, and other training equipment. Please consider giving. Mission Rowing is a 501c3 Not for Profit, as such your donation will be tax-deductible. If you have questions about donations please email our Executive Director Carol Nagy.

Our Team

Conal Head
Conal Groom
Head Coach

Conal first started rowing in high school at Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA. It was here that Conal first began to fall in love with the sport and find the challenges rewarding and intoxicating. At Georgetown University, Conal began to develop as a powerful (not skilled) athlete among the nation’s lightweights. With the support and mentorship of his coaches and the talented base of in the DC area at the time, Conal grew as a lightweight sculler and saw a fair amount of success.

As an Olympian and nine-time US National Team member, Conal brings a wealth of first-hand experience and knowledge to every athlete who chooses to train with him. His genuine passion for the development process; technical, physiological and mental, motivates his athletes to test their limits in practice and on the racecourse. Conal’s approach is a mix of time tested Eastern European techniques coupled with an increasing array of assessment tools and the knowledge they provide.

Conal and Carol have worked together since 2005 in several roles and a few programs. In August of 2010, they opened the Seattle Rowing Center together. SRC was unique in Seattle, focusing primarily on youth and High-Performance rowing in small boats. Now with the opportunity to evolve their system and focus on establishing the rowing culture in Santa Barabra County, Conal is exceptionally excited to implement improved methods of teaching and create an environment of successful men and women on and off the racecourse.

Some highlights of his athletes:

  • Jr. Worlds W1x Bronze 2006,
  • Jr. Senior Worlds WL4X 5th 2006
  • Jr. Jr. Worlds W 1x Silver 2008,
  • Jr. 5 SDCC titles,
  • Jr. U-23 W1X Bronze 2010,
  • Jr. W1X 2010,
  • Jr. 2011-2019 SRC won 14 Gold Medals at Youth Nationals
  • Jr. 2011-2019 SRC earned 27 total medals at Youth Nationals
  • Jr. 2010-2018 numerous athletes have earned spots on Jr, U23, Sr, and Olympic Teams.
  • Jr. 2019 Nine athletes earned spots on Jr, U23, or Senior National Teams

When Conal is not obsessing about how to coach better, make his athletes better or fix equipment, he loves to BBQ. Conal has been smoking meats and anything he can think of since 1995. Other activities he enjoys are cyclocross, learning to surf, scuba dive, and kiteboarding.

Carol Head
Carol Nagy
President & Executive Director

Carol has been a small business owner and active in the rowing community in Seattle for the last forty years, opening her latest venture, Seattle Rowing Center, in 2010.

Carol’s experience starting, maintaining, and transitioning organizations are substantial. In 1979 Carol opened Soft Coverings, a custom interior and textile shop in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Carol opened a Retail Only branch in downtown Seattle in the early 1980s, leaving the Queen Anne location as a production facility. A few years later she opened a branch on Bainbridge Island. A diagnosis of AML (acute Leukemia) in 1994 when her children were 3 and 5 seriously changed the trajectory of Soft Coverings. During her five year fight, changes were made to simplify the organization and create an exit strategy should she not have been the lucky one in ten.

Ultimately while Carol won her battle with Leukemia, her passions shifted to help a dysfunctional parent/teacher/fundraising culture at her children’s elementary school.

In the Mid 1990s as President of the John Hay Elementary PTA Carol launched The John Hay Partners, an organization combining the strengths of both the school’s site council and PTA. Communications between staff and parents improved significantly as did fundraising capabilities. John Hay Partners has gone on to be a model for parent/teacher/administration joint ventures.

Seattle Rowing Center was born out of Carol’s experiences with her daughters desire to be an elite level rower, as well as her own experiences as an athlete, competitor, coach and USRowing referee. Combining the skillsets gained through both Soft Coverings and John Hay Partners Carol launched Seattle Rowing Center intent on bringing a European Small Boat approach to youth rowing development. The plan was to stay forever. Unfortunately, the leased property sold and no other site within Seattle was affordable. Instead of closing down, selling off all the assets and going quietly into retirement. With Conal’s help and commitment, Carol has chosen to bring the sport of rowing to Cachuma Lake and Santa Barbara County Parks.

Carol’s love for the outdoors and physical activity are a large part of what makes Santa Barbara County a perfect fit for her new home. When not immersed in building a world-class community rowing center, Carol will be hiking, swimming, riding, gardening, travelling and cooking. Carol is looking particularly forward to buying her new home, settling into Santa Ynez Valley, and building a fantastic outdoor kitchen/living area and organic garden to share with family and friends.

Derek Head
Derek de Leuw
Head Masters Coach

Derek picked up rowing in high school and rowed for Sammamish Rowing Association in Redmond Washington. He rowed for the University of Washington his freshman year before pursuing coaching.

Derek’s first foray into coaching was as an intern after his high school graduation. The summer after his freshman year at UW, he began coaching competitive masters. By fall, he was working with the masters in the morning and juniors in the afternoon. Derek coached for Sammamish for five years in total, mostly as a master’s coach and high school boy’s novice coach.

In the summer of 2015, Derek assisted with a USRowing Development camp based out of Seattle Rowing Center that focused on developing athletes in small boat skills. After the summer he returned to Sammamish but worked on weekends with SRC. In July of 2016, Derek moved entirely to SRC. From July of 2016 till June of 2019 Derek was the Novice and Assistant Varsity Coach for Seattle Rowing Center. Derek was mainly responsible for the evolution of the Novice program as well as assisting and developing the varsity squad. Derek has worked with all levels of Summer camps from middle school to competitive race programs that raced at BC Champs and Canadian Henley.

Other Interest:

Having grown up on the West Coast, Derek has an absolute affinity for camping, hiking, and just exploring the outdoors in general. While it has been a while since he has trained consistently on the erg, you can find him either running or biking almost every day. Derek enjoys a variety of music, but he does tend to listen and attend more hard rock and metal shows left to his own devices.

Derek has moved to Santa Barbra County, to pursue coaching with the staff at Mission Rowing. As Derek’s first time living outside the greater Seattle area, he looks forward to experiencing the beautiful landscape here. Mission Rowing is grateful that Derek is willing to continue working with Conal and Carol. Derek is a hard worker and focuses on developing athletes to their fullest while ensuring they are having fun and being part of the family. Derek has a magical ability to work with athletes that are struggling to acquire new skill sets and help them find an avenue to success.

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