Vashon Island Rowing Club came home with 11 medals from last weekend’s Covered Bridge Regatta on Dexter Lake near Eugene, Oregon. Returning to an event that has been sometimes plagued by rain and wind in recent years, VIRC was delighted to row in cool but mostly calm conditions all weekend.
The most memorable of Vashon’s four gold medal performances came in the men’s junior varsity double, featuring Lex Rosen and Mateo Nigretto. Rosen’s foot stretchers became disconnected just before the race started, making steering the boat much more difficult. Seeing that they were still in the mix after 500 meters, the boys realized they would have to take more strokes than everyone else but that they still had a chance.
“They wound up way off course and took the longest route to the finish, but still wound up 16 seconds ahead of the second-place boat,” VIRC Coach Ben Steele said. “Our young guys are certainly exceeding expectations right now.”
Also winning gold in a separate JV double event were Joshua Kyles and Baker Van Buren. Later in the weekend, Vashon’s varsity double of brothers Oz and Bowie Hichens won gold with an open water advantage over rowers from Olympia and Oregon Unlimited.
“It’s nice to see all of the preparation and growth over the past month really come together out on the race course,” Steele said.
With 511 entries from 28 clubs who came from as far away as the San Francisco Bay Area, the gently sloping shores of Dexter Lake looked like a giant game of Pickup Sticks, with shells and oars covering most of the grassy terrain.
“Great conditions for this event,” Fred Sayer, master’s men’s captain and part of the modest contingent of Vashon masters rowers at Covered Bridge this year, said. “We worked with Commencement Bay to sub in rowers for each other and help fill out each other’s lineups. It was a nice opportunity to continue to build camaraderie between the two clubs.”
A highlight for all of Vashon’s rowers was an opportunity to see their two coaches, Ben Steele and Maya Krah, team up and win gold as a mixed double for the Coaches Rowing Association.
“That was fun. It was only maybe our third row together,” Steele said, “and we knew that due to our age, we had to finish 16 seconds ahead.”
Once times were adjusted for age, Steele and Krah’s boat wound up winning with two seconds to spare.
“Finally, a big thank you goes to the Junior parents for taking care of all of us,” Sayer said. “Quiche on Saturday, poached eggs on Sunday and bag lunches for the return trip. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
— Written by Jeff Hoyt, VIRC masters rower.