Master rowers excel at regional regatta
July 7, 2009 · 2:40 PM
The weekend of June 26 to 28, the Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC) masters left the Island looking for a little competition. They found plenty of it at the USRowing Northwest Regional Masters Championships.
Forty-five teams and more than 1,000 athletes contested 121 events featuring six different types of boats and eight different age groups.
The average age of VIRC rowers is 53, so the club raced for gold, silver and bronze medals primarily in the C (43-49), D (50-55) and E (56-60) age groups. And unlike past years, those medals did not come easily.
The increased interest in masters rowing that VIRC has felt on the Island has also lifted the level of competition regionwide and helped develop powerhouse teams on Lake Union, Lake Sammamish, Green Lake and in the Portland area. In addition, the rule barring out-of-region Californian and Canadian teams from being awarded regional medals was dropped this year, making the competition for medals even stiffer.
Fortunately, the stronger field seemed to bring out the best in VIRC. Often it was a VIRC boat that moved up at the end of a heat to make the finals or moved through the field in a final to snatch a medal.
Early on Friday, Eric Gill and Ed Zapel combined with two Lake Union rowers to score silver in the Novice 4. Then later in the afternoon, Zapel struck silver again rowing with Scott Engelhard, Bruce Morser and Bob Horsley in what turned out to be VIRC’s fastest boat of the regatta, the men’s D 4x. (The x denotes a sculling boat, where each rower has two oars; 4x stands for the quadruple scull which has four rowers and eight oars.)
On Saturday, six of VIRC’s nine boats made it into the finals, and five of those six earned medals.
The 2006 national champs in the D 2, Morser and Colby Atwood, aged up into the E 2 and took gold. This left room in the D 2 for youngsters Horsley and Bob Stewart, who also took gold with a thrilling sprint to the finish line.
Engelhard, who rowed in both the D 2x finals and E 2x finals with Steve Haworth, added another silver in the D 2x.
The women’s lightweight D 4x, an event for women less than 130 pounds, saw Celia Congdon, Therese Smith, Jan Peterson and Carrie Singer race to a second-place finish. Congdon and Peterson also raced in the women’s heavyweight D 4x with Holly Zapel and Kim Goforth. That VIRC boat won its heat to advance into the final, where the boat came in fourth.
The last medal of the regatta, a silver, came in the men’s D 4 with Zapel, Atwood and Morser teaming up with Daniel Macca.
As the boats came to the finish, VIRC was closing quickly on the favored Pocock Racing Center boat that had led the entire race, but VIRC ran out of water and had to settle for second.
With surprise and relief that his boat’s lead had been just enough, the coxswain of the Pocock boat looked over as the boats coasted to a stop and called out, “Where did you guys come from?”
Vashon Island, baby.