The Burton Beach Rowing Club (BBRC) trekked north to Vancouver Island for the 51st Annual Brentwood International Regatta, held in Mill Bay on the final weekend in April.
The popular event brought 24 clubs from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia for some great rowing and some weather conditions that will make this a regatta few of the rowers and spectators will ever forget.
Grant Gonter, a VHS sophomore, brought home a bronze medal for the club in the Under 17 Mens’ single. The event, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, was moved to Sunday when windy conditions made the course unsafe to row. Gonter’s time of 6:17 on the 1500-meter course won his heat and earned him third place out of a field of 18 rowers. Teammate Max Jackson, a VHS freshman, finished second in his heat and finished fourth overall, two seconds behind Gonter.
On Saturday afternoon, racing was suspended due to rough water conditions brought on by wind. At one point, rowers were sent back onto the course, but the conditions worsened and the races were called off before they even began.
As boats began rowing the 1500 meters back to the launch, many of the boats took on water in the rough conditions and four boats capsized. The crews were pulled to safety by the nearby safety boats and no one was injured. Racing did not resume on Saturday.
“The weather always plays a role at Brentwood and this year was no different,” said BBRC coach Richard Parr. “While it was a little chaotic for a few minutes, the race organizers and safety crews did a great job of getting everyone back on shore safely. ”
Racing resumed early on Sunday morning with an abbreviated schedule. The wind picked back up and conditions were once again unsafe for rowing. The regatta was called just before 11 a.m. with the final 15 races of the day being cancelled. Fortunately for Gonter, his race occurred before the wind started back up on Sunday.
In addition to bringing home a medal, Gonter had the distinction of rowing up to the starting line three times only to be called back due to weather. This happened twice on Saturday and once more on Sunday. Gonter and his teammates, Caroline Barnes, Briar Guenther, Nate Wass de Czege, and Forest Macnab, were caught in the high waves that swamped boats. While they came back a little wet, they successfully brought their boat to shore.
“When I started rowing a year ago, I didn’t expect to be bailing water from a racing shell,” said Gonter. “This weekend, my teammates and I found ourselves in that exact situation while waiting for our delayed race in the waters of Brentwood. It was a little crazy, but I know we’ll be telling that story for a long time.”
BBRC will finish off the spring season with NW Regionals held in Vancouver, Washington, beginning on Friday, May 19.