Crew eases into spring season

For The Beachcomber

The 52nd annual Green Lake spring regatta featured something not experienced for this event in a few years — actual spring conditions. Warm temperatures and light winds greeted rowers as dawn broke on Saturday morning and lasted until precisely the last air horn on the final race, when the rains returned.

If the spring crew season is likened to an academic semester, then this regatta is more like a quiz than a test or final exam, with a relatively short 1,000-meter course and many local teams either not participating or not sending their full varsity teams.

Nonetheless, coach Richard Parr was pleased at day’s end.

“I am really proud of both our junior and master crews,” he said. “It was a great start to the season and one of Vashon’s best regatta performances ever. We will need to build off of this success.”

The summary stats tell the tale: With 24 race events entered, Vashon’s junior and masters crews failed to medal in only one race, with 15 first-, three second- and five third-place finishes. And with those 15 first-place finishes, the average time over the second-place boat was almost 10 seconds. All of the junior crew members took home at least one medal.

First place finishers were the Open Men’s Quad, the Open Women’s Double, the Open Women’s Quad, the Open Men’s Double, the Open Novice Women’s Eight, the Master’s Women’s Four, the Master’s Women’s Quad, the Master’s Women’s Double, the Junior Women’s Quad, the Junior Men’s Four, the Junior Men’s Quad, the Mixed Double, the Lightweight Women’s Four, the Junior Novice Women’s Eight and Mixed Master’s Eight.

Winners of the junior crew open races were Baxter and Fletcher Call, Jacob Plihal, Tate Gill, Kirsten Girard, Mia Croonquist, Hannah Russell, Kalie Heffernan and coxswains Olivia Mackie and Ally Clevenger.

In total, 37 Vashon rowers returned home with gold medals. Seven rowers had three first-place finishes each, and coxswain Callie Andrews won the “bling” award with a neck-straining four winning medals.

The spring season continues this week with the Saltwater Scrimmage at Vashon’s Jensen Point boathouse at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

Unlike the Green Lake course, where after 100 or so powerful strokes to cover 1,000 meters, coxswains and crews have to power down quickly or risk ending up in the grandstands, the Quartermaster Harbor course is wide open and affords excellent viewing and plenty of room for crews to paddle it out and cool down after each race. Junior crews from Bainbridge Island, Olympia and Vashon will compete in 1,500-meter sprint racing.

— Pat Call is a recreational rower and the father of two junior crew members.

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