By KAREN BUHLER GALE
The varsity Vashon Island Junior Crew (VIJC) team of 18 rowers, two coxswains, coach Lucas Ridinger and assistant coach Dan Packard traveled north to Victoria, B.C., to compete Oct. 27 and 28 in Head of the Gorge and Head of the Elk races sponsored by the University of Victoria.
VIJC Men’s Junior 8+ coxed by Olivia Sayvetz and rowed by Kiyo Egashira, Steven DeWalt, Will Kicinski, Avio Brooklyn, Clint Amstrup, Charlie Hoffman, Cody Turner and Tim Hanson, finished fourth in the first flight of races at Gorge when the tidal stream was nearly slack.
Racers later in the day, however, weren’t so lucky. The Women’s Junior 8+ and Men’s Open Varsity 2x navigated an eight-knot current completewith whirlpools.
Coxed by Sage Doble, the Women’s Junior 8+, rowed by Lizzy Corliss, Meaghan Connors, Shelby Gale, Alex Bosworth, Marissa Samuelson, Marja Haflinger, Avalon Koenig and Allison Saathoff, placed sixth with the Men’s 2X rowed by Eli Hoyt and Thane Gill finishing seventh in the Open Varsity race. Both boats came through the Gorge with flying colors.
“After we made it through, I heard someone say we looked really good,”said first-time Head of the Gorge participant Saathoff.
The dry, cold weather held for the next day’s races in an 8K circumnavigation of Elk Lake 15 minutes north of the Gorge. With the same boat lineup, the VIJC joined the armada of more than 60 boats preparing to race.
The Men’s Junior 8+ again placed fourth but felt better about the second day of racing. “We rushed yesterday, but today were more settled in,” explained Egashira, the stroke for the boat and one of VIJC’s captains. The other rowers agreed. “We felt good,” said Charlie Hoffman. “We just felt good.”
The Women’s Junior 8+ raced against tough teams in the long distance race that gets into shallow water around the lake’s four islands.
“It was hard, but we weren’t dying. I didn’t feel I couldn’t do it,” said first-season rower Avalon Koenig.
The Men’s Open Varsity 2x also felt good about the race. “We feel great doing as well as we did against such experienced varsity teams,” beamed Eli Hoyt.
The afternoon results placed the Women’s Junior 8+ sixth, and Men’s Open Varsity 2x finished seventh.
The team’s next races are the Frostbite Regatta at Greenlake and Head of the Lake at the University of Washington on Nov. 10 and 11.