The crew of the winning women’s eight managed to slow down for a photo at Vancouver Lake last weekend. Pictured from left: Coxswain Lisa Huggenvik, stroke Kim Goforth, Erika Bartkute Lanske, Sarah Eden, Kit Gruver, Zabette Macomber, Norine Martinsen, Amy Bogaard and Lea Heffernan. (Courtesy Photo).

VIRC masters achieve best results ever at regional championships

The Vashon Island Rowing Club’s masters rowers, enduring the heat of one of the hottest June weekends on record, stormed their way through the competition at USRowing’s Northwest Masters Regional Championships at Vancouver Lake in Vancouver, Washington, this past weekend.

With temperatures approximating the surface of the sun, give or take, it was 21 Vashon masters making their rivals sweat to bring home 16 medals in 23 events, including nine gold, six silver and one bronze — a tally that coach Richard Parr believes is the best results the masters have ever seen at regionals.

The women had a really strong showing, led by Lea Heffernan, who won gold medals in each of the six events she was entered in. The women’s eight of stroke Kim Goforth, Kit Gruver, Sarah Eden, Erika Bartkute Lanske, Zabette Macomber, Norine Martinsen, Amy Bogaard, Heffernan and coxswain Lisa Huggenvik not only charged home with a gold, but also the fastest time across both heats of the event category.

“That was such a satisfying win,” Parr said of the dominating victory. “Even though medals were given out in each heat, our women had the fastest time over both, beating a crew from Marin, a big California club that is typically a powerhouse here.”

On the men’s side, highlights included standout racing from Chad Magnuson, who won gold in the single and posted the fastest time across the three heats in his age category, and what Parr deemed “a great silver medal performance” from “elder statesmen” Gary Schoch, Foss Miller, Fred Sayer, Bob (Bam Bam) McMahon and coxswain Huggenvik, in the men’s four.

Unlike juniors, masters’ competitions often involve mixed-boat events, and the VIRC masters have traditionally done well in these. This year was certainly no exception with the continued dominance of the affectionately — and aptly — dubbed “super quad” of Mary Shemeta, Chad Magnuson, Mark Ripley and Lea Heffernan, who came home with what will likely be the last gold medal for the foursome, as racing is over until the fall and Ripley is moving to Portland. Heffernan and Magnuson also made up half of another gold-medal-winning mixed quad with Goforth and Colby Atwood.

Parr had this to say about the weekend’s results: “While it was great to perform so well despite the 100-plus degree heat, even better was the spirit and camaraderie that our club demonstrated the entire time. I am very proud of all of our masters rowers.”

— Sarah Low

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