For the second year in a row, the spring regatta at Green Lake was hampered by poor weather and called off early. But not too early for Vashon crews to row in eight juniors and three masters events, medalling in all 11 races.
Early spring rowing in the Northwest has a certain resemblance to the circus coming to town. Long before dawn on Saturday, March 16, a trailer laden with rowing shells and equipment pulled into a parking lot at Green Lake and, as if by magic, dozens of head lamps switched on, boats were moved a couple of hundred yards to the race venue and then rigged, shelters were erected, food was cooked and served, and as light crept into the morning sky, the racing began.
Three junior quads (four-person shells with two sculling oars each) took home first-place ribbons. The varsity girls quad, with Hannah Russell, Anne Gaspers, Kirsten Girard and Kalie Heffernan, continued its strong performance from the previous weekend’s scrimmage and a second girl’s quad with Kai Li Scheer, Ella McConnell, Gaspars and Shannon Lipe added a youth gold a short time later, but not before the course was shortened from 1,000 to 500 meters due to the strengthening winds.
The boys’ junior varsity quad, with Liam McConnell, Ethan Rumberg, Alexander Wright and Julian Bacca, brought in Vashon’s third and final gold for the day.
Vashon rowers collected six silver medals as well, including strong efforts by the masters men in both quad and eight races.
The boys open heavyweight quad gave Jacob Plihal quite an introduction to racing with a silver medal in his first-ever race, where he joined Isaiah Mosser-Rohe, Tate Gill and Gus Magnuson.
The boy’s lightweight eight, in a race where Vashon has not traditionally placed well, launched a strong sprint over the final 250 meters to come from behind for an exciting finish.
The girls’ lightweight four-plus (four rowers with a coxswain) and finally the girl’s open four-plus, rowing against two other boats featuring world champions in each, rounded out the silver medal haul.
The girls’ eight and masters men’s four completed Vashon’s results for the day with third-place finishes. With the wind building in the afternoon, even the shortened course became too treacherous for racing, and the regatta was called off with only slightly more than half of Vashon’s scheduled races completed.
The circus-like ritual of dozens of hands moving hundreds of pieces of equipment then ran in reverse. Only this time without the headlamps.
VIRC coach Richard Parr said that despite the cancelled races, he was pleased with the group’s effort.
“Vashon attaining medals in every race says a lot about how hard the masters and juniors are working, and the results were a good reward,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do before regionals, and it’s important to remember that Pocock and the Seattle Rowing Center, two of our main competitors, weren’t there.”
— Pat Call is a recreational rower and father of two junior crew members.