Vashon hosts rowing scrimmage, juniors accumulate wins


More than 150 junior rowers from Bainbridge Island, Olympia and Vashon arrived at the Jensen Point boathouse at dawn on Sunday for the fifth annual Saltwater Scrimmage.

A brisk northerly tail wind helped to propel boats in 20 events down the 1,500-meter course from Portage to the finish just off Jensen Point. Parents from all three clubs plus a large number of curious islanders gathered near the finish line to cheer on the crews.

Rebranded from the original Tri-Island Regatta, when Orcas Island participated in earlier years, this event was a big success judging from the enthusiasm of the rowers who participated.

Vashon continued its early-season success, winning 15 of the 20 events. First place finishes were garnered (in race order) by the women’s eight, the men’s single, the novice women’s coxed quad, the lightweight men’s double,  the women’s quad, the men’s double, the novice women’s eight, the women’s four, the women’s double, the men’s quad, the novice women’s four, the women’s pair, the novice men’s double, the lightweight women’s four and the novice women’s double. In a novel“medal”ceremony, winning crews were awarded rubber ducks, causing one Vashon parent to remark that “Vashon had won an embarrassment of duckies.”

The strong tail wind ensured fast times and favored crews rowing with quicker, lighter strokes. The Bainbridge crew was by far the largest of the three teams present. With more than 110 rowers in its program, it places an emphasis on sweep (one oar per rower) over sculling (two oars per rower). It was therefore noteworthy that in the final race of the day, the Vashon men’s eight lost by only a few feet to one of the three Bainbridge boats in the race.

“From here on out through the rest of the races this spring the courses are longer and the competition much tougher” said coach Richard Parr. “I like what we have shown so far, but now is our time to dig deep and push even harder.”

The next regatta for the Vashon crew will be the invitational Husky Open at the Montlake Cut on Saturday, April 5, with three junior and one masters boat entered.

The junior crew will also host a fundraising car wash at the IGA market parking lot on Saturday, March 29, in time to wash the winter grime off island cars.

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

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