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Masters rowers score multiple wins across the border
Rowing on a lake that until recently was choked with silt and lily pads, the Vashon Island Rowing Club masters dredged up a large shovel-full of hardware at last weekend’s Cascadia Masters Championship in Vancouver, B.C. VIRC rowed to four gold-medal finishes on Burnaby Lake, along with five silvers and three bronze.
A highlight of the weekend for VIRC was a dominating performance by the women’s quad, which raised eyebrows along the shore by flying off the line and walking on the field with open water at the sprint. The quad featured Kim Goforth in stroke, with Holly Zapel, Su DeWalt and Lisa Huggenvik.
“Conibear (a Seattle team) tried to make a move on us at 500, but we held them off with a surge,” said Huggenvik, who coxed the quad from her bow seat, “and then once I called us up at the 250, we pushed out ahead and that was that.”
The most compelling race of the weekend was a parent-child double event, which Chad Magnuson entered with his son Gus, a Vashon juniors champion rower who didn’t even arrive in Vancouver until 3 a.m. Sunday morning due to a lengthy train delay in Seattle. Fatigue was not a factor, however, as the Magnusons staged a furious sprint at 38 strokes per minute to beat a combo in the next lane that featured a member of Canada’s Olympic gold-medal winning eight.
“I screwed up our start, but then we led from a hundred meters on,” said Chad, the elder Magnuson. “Gus has so much horsepower, it was a thrill just to keep up with him. I was beaming all the way through the sprint.”
Also winning gold at Cascadia was Vashon’s men’s four, with Bruce Morser in stroke, Colby Atwood, Bob Horsley and Ed Zapel, with Vashon juniors freshman coxswain Ally Clevenger steering Vashon to an open-water, first-place finish. The four Vashon rowers, averaging 55 years old, finished the 1,000-meter course just two-hundredths of a second slower than the 35-year-old lineup that won the men’s open four earlier in the day.
“Basically, I got soaked during that race,” said Clevenger, who was coxing in her first masters regatta. “It took a while to get the boat together but then it just really moved.”
Clevenger, who chose coxing after being inspired by a video of former Vashon junior Olivia Sayvetz (now a sophomore coxswain at Princeton), was busy all weekend. She coxed six medal-winning boats, including second-place finishes in crowded fields for both the Vashon mixed and men’s eights, along with two other races in which Canadian clubs “borrowed” her services. She also spent hours learning the finer points of how to adjust oars and prep boats under the tutelage of coach Richard Parr.
Rounding out Vashon’s gold-medal finishes was a mixed four lineup of Scott Engelhard, Kim Goforth, Holly Zapel and Bob Horsley, who left no doubt on the water that Vashon would not be denied. Another VIRC entry also took third in the same event.
“All in all, we had a pretty good weekend,” said Parr. “We’re doing a lot of the basic things right; we just need a lot more time racing.”
Parr pointed out that Vashon’s masters haven’t raced since April, but for many of the clubs in attendance, Cascadia was the culmination of a long racing season.
“I’ve really liked what I’ve been seeing in practice,” he said. “Now it’s all about continuing to put it all together out on the race course.”
This was the third year for the Cascadia Masters Championship and the first true regatta to be held on Burnaby Lake in Vancouver since 1986. Formerly the site of the Canada Summer Games, it took a recent $20 million dredging project to clear the lake of its invasive vegetation, restoring the site once again into a high-quality rowing venue. Cascadia Registration Coordinator Cinda Ewton said there were more than twice as many total entries for this year’s regatta than the 2011 event.
— Jeff Hoyt is a member of the Vashon Island Rowing Club.