By Richard Parr
For The Beachcomber
Although US Rowing has canceled all of its on-water regattas until the end of 2020, that hasn’t stopped the country’s rowers from competing against each other.
Like so many other things, rowing has gone virtual, with on-water competitions being replaced by various indoor rowing machine (erg) challenges. US Rowing held their virtual National Youth Championships last week in lieu of their annual on-water regatta, which had been scheduled for Florida this past weekend.
Competing in the Under 17 division, Davis Kelly became Burton Beach Rowing Club’s first junior national champion when he won the gold with an outstanding score of 6:23, exactly five seconds ahead of his nearest rival from the Texas Rowing Center. Joining Davis on the Youth Nationals “virtual podium” was Burton Beach 8th grader and 13-year old Keziah Rutschow, whose 8:10 score was strong enough to secure the bronze medal in the Under 15 division, won by North Carolina’s Triangle Rowing Club. Keziah did her erg in the biggest room at Camp Burton, cheered on by a small group of her well-spaced and mask-wearing teammates.
Two weeks previously, Kelly teamed up with rowers from three other clubs in the region to win the junior team title in an erg race sponsored by “Fat Ergos”, a rowing company. Their team, the “Watt Wagon”, comprised Kelly and rowers from Rose City (Portland), Commencement Bay (Tacoma) and Mt. Baker (Seattle).
“It was really good to have the opportunity to compete even though on-water races have been canceled,” Kelly said afterward. “To have been able to be part of a team of such great guys was a bonus.”
Rowers from Burton Beach have been back on the water now for the past few weeks, although boats are limited to singles and “household” doubles. It’s going to be a long while before anything is back to normal with relation to the coronavirus, but the Burton Beach crew are keeping up the miles and the camaraderie.
Also rowing with BBRC are some university rowers keeping fit for what they hope will be a fall season, and two-time US national team member Jacob Plihal, who is training hard for a seat when international rowing re-opens.
Richard Parr is the coach of the Burton Beach Rowing Club.