Vashon Rowing Club coach captures medals at Masters Nationals

  • Wednesday, August 29, 2018 1:50pm
  • Sports
Vashon Island Rowing Club Coach Ben Steele (front, stroke seat) and Ted Leslie (Pocock/Seattle) rowed this composite Vashon entry to a bronze medal at the Masters National Championships on Lake Merritt in Oakland (Courtesy Photo).

Vashon Island Rowing Club Coach Ben Steele (front, stroke seat) and Ted Leslie (Pocock/Seattle) rowed this composite Vashon entry to a bronze medal at the Masters National Championships on Lake Merritt in Oakland (Courtesy Photo).

Vashon Island Rowing Club’s Ben Steele took a weekend off from coaching VIRC’s juniors and masters rowers to once again climb into the stroke seat and compete at the Masters National Championship on Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, Aug. 17 to 19. Rowing in two composite boats for Vashon, Steele took a silver and a bronze, while capping off the weekend with another silver in an eight made up entirely of rowing coaches.

“Coaches’ eights are a lot of fun,” said Steele. “We all have a good understanding of how to row smoothly and hit key parts of the stroke together, even if the level of fitness varies greatly. Our coxswain did a great job of organizing a group that had never rowed together, and he knew exactly what to fix.”

With former U.S. Olympic coxswain Rod Warner calling out the commands, Steele’s eight, featuring coaches from Pocock, Station L, Chicago, San Diego and Marin, found itself four seats down to Bear Island with only 150 meters to go.

“Rod was exuberant when he said ‘heels down!’ and I pushed the rate,” said Steele. “We all powered up and dropped our split by 10 seconds over two strokes, rowing right through Bear Island.”

Steele’s other two medal-winning races were adventures in their own right, with equipment factoring into one race and a last-minute substitution needed in the other.

“My double was a composite with Ted Leslie from Pocock,” explained Steele. “Our boat had a rigging issue so we had to borrow a boat last minute with its steering locked slightly to one side.” Racing down the course with a 12 mph crosswind pushing in the same direction, Steele’s double was hard to starboard through the entire race and yet still managed a bronze medal.

Rounding out the weekend was Steele’s silver medal race in the composite quad. At the last minute, the crew had to sub in a novice from Lake Merritt and essentially race a boat that had never practiced together, finishing second, just a boat length off the pace.

Steele said that getting in a boat again at Nationals will serve his coaching well during the upcoming fall head race season on Vashon. “Racing always brings my drive for competition and sportsmanship into view,” he said. “I hope to use that to lead by example this season.”

— Jeff Hoyt is a member of the Vashon Island Rowing Club.

More in Sports

Pirate boys set sail for basketball playoffs

The team is the number one seed from the Nisqually League in the West Central District tournament.

Girls team sees hoops playoff dreams dashed

What started out with playoff aspirations ended up a tough season.

Boys clinch playoff berth with win over Cascade Christian

Pirates put themselves back on top of the Nisqually League with a 57-27 win.

Boys drop two, win one, as basketball season winds down

Tahoma hands Vashon defeat during holiday tourney At the annual Martin Luther… Continue reading

Seals see success in Tacoma

Last weekend the Vashon Seals Swim Team sent 22 swimmers, ranging in… Continue reading

Vashon wrestlers tie for league Dual Meet champs

The team begins its post-season run on Saturday.

Vashon girls lose three straight, post-season play now out of reach

The Pirates began the week with aspirations of getting back in the… Continue reading

Medals for Burton Beach crew members at regional indoor rowing championship

Eight Burton Beach rowers competed at Ergomania, the Northwest’s annual indoor rowing… Continue reading

Boys win two, remain undefeated in league play

Cascade Christian On a quiet Tuesday night, the Vashon High School boys’… Continue reading

Girls get first league win

A hard-fought victory against Cascade Christian was followed by a close loss to Charles Wright.

VHS wrestlers lose close match to league champs then come back strong

After a close loss to defending league champs Port Townsend last Thursday,… Continue reading

League play derails win streak

After winning nine non-conference games, the Pirates fell to league rivals.