Burton Beach Rowers Sail Ahead Despite COVID Constraints

Rowers were welcomed back to Vancouver Lake for the US Northwest Rowing Championships last weekend.

  • Thursday, May 27, 2021 6:25pm
  • Sports
BBRC U19’s (from left to right) Sienna Stromberg, Davis Kelly, Simon Grant, Dylan Carmody, Jewel Wass de Czege and Assistant Coach Brigit O’Rourke (Courtesy Photo).

BBRC U19’s (from left to right) Sienna Stromberg, Davis Kelly, Simon Grant, Dylan Carmody, Jewel Wass de Czege and Assistant Coach Brigit O’Rourke (Courtesy Photo).

It wasn’t business as usual for the US Northwest Rowing Championships this past weekend, but thanks to the organizers’ hard work, rowers were welcomed to Vancouver Lake for the first time in two years.

Athletes were confined to one event because of the pandemic. Races were shortened to half their regular distance, this time as 1000 meter sprints. Unless they were on the water, rowers were required to wear masks, spectators were discouraged, and the customary food tents, parents, vendors and crowds were gone.

But finally, Burton Beach Rowing Club members were allowed to compete in an official race against their peers from throughout the Pacific Northwest for the first time in almost a year. It seems that piloting the small boats, which are a cornerstone of the BBRC program, would be especially tough this time around due to the training constraints of the previous year, but BBRC rowers proved their resilience on the water.

Davis Kelly, a 17-year-old standout for BBRC, won a silver medal in the A final of the Men’s Under 19 Single in a field of 35 competitors. With 200 meters to go, Davis rowed a fantastic tactical race and drew away from the pack. Idaho’s Isaiah Harrison, a true phenomenon who also holds the junior world record on the indoor rowing machine, took first place in the race.

“It was really satisfying to cap off the spring with that race, after over a year of training in small boats. I’m very proud of the way our whole team performed and we all felt great finally being able to represent Burton Beach again,” said Kelly, looking back at the weekend.

In her first official event, novice Sienna Stromberg won the B final in the girls’ U19 Varsity double with past novice Northwest champion Jewel Wass de Czege, leading the race from start to finish for gold. In the B final, their male rowing counterparts Dylan Carmody and Simon Grant had a tremendous battle with a Pocock pair but were outplayed by 0.17 seconds at the finish, earning a silver medal.

On Saturday it was the younger athlete’s turn. Dexy Richmond and Caroline Barnes rowed a brave race in the B final against considerably stronger competition, and 14-year-old Keziah Rutschow rowed a steady and mature race to take bronze in the U17 women’s single B final.

With all of the uncertainties this year, the organizers performed an excellent job, and a big thank you is owed to the vast team of volunteers who made this event possible.

With some of the college rowers returning to practice and new novices just starting their careers, BBRC is now looking forward to the summer. Davis Kelly will attend the national junior selection camp in Florida, while Dylan Carmody has been invited to the National Olympic Development Camp, both in late June.

— Richard Parr, BBRC coach

Rowing alum earns major honor

It’s been quite a few weeks for Burton Beach Rowing Club alumna Kate Kelly. She is the only freshman in the top three boats at the University of Virginia and was the bow seat of the Virginia Varsity 8+ that won the Atlantic Conference Championships last weekend.

Kelly was named a part of the ACC crew of the year and was selected by her peers at Virginia as Rookie of the Year.

She is now coached by Kevin Sauer, who has an enviable record of results over his nearly three decades at the helm of the Virginia program and she is clearly thriving.

“Kevin pushes me to be the best person I can be and then leads us to win championships”, said Kelly. “At UVA I have achieved things beyond my expectations, and I’ve been so supported by my coach, my teammates and the university itself, both on and off the water. I’m so grateful to be part of such an amazing program here.”

Kate Kelly holds a trophy awarded to her at the Atlantic Conference Championships (Courtesy Photo).

Kate Kelly holds a trophy awarded to her at the Atlantic Conference Championships (Courtesy Photo).

Kelly will line up in bow again this weekend at the NCAA Rowing Championships in Virginia’s first 8+, alongside her teammates who hail from the US, Germany, South Africa and Great Britain as they take on powerhouses such as Washington, Stanford and Texas.

“Coming into college, I felt prepared for what was to come thanks to my training with Burton Beach. While it’s a much smaller club, it has the same positive people and the same athlete-centered approach to coaching that I found at Virginia. This is just a logical step up, and I’m finding new challenges to inspire me,” she said. “I’ll be returning to BBRC in the summer, and bringing a teammate to train with me. Virginia has been a great challenge and exciting for sure, but it will be nice to be home for a bit again, especially with all that’s gone on these last couple of years.”

Kelly, who has already represented the US at the Junior World Championships is setting her sights higher and her training at Virginia is certainly fostering her belief she will get there.

“I’m really looking forward to competing at Virginia next autumn, and I’m hoping to compete for the US Under 23 team in 2022,” she said.

— Heather Carmody, BBRC President


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