Vashon Island Rowers take elite finishes at Montlake

“This season has been unlike any fall in the past.”

In sharp contrast to the pouring rain and high winds just one day before, Sunday’s (Oct. 5) Head of the Lake Regatta opened with almost perfectly flat water and high clouds parting for some afternoon sunshine. Rowers and families from Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC) even got a bit of a sleep in due to the time-change before traveling to the University of Washington’s famous Conibear Shellhouse for some good racing.

With 10 entries in the premier fall racing event for the West Coast, VIRC’s adult team and experienced youth team faced crews from all over the Pacific Northwest as well as Rhode Island, California, and British Columbia.

Masters coach and assistant youth coach Aidan Teachout said that “for the first time in a while, the weather held out long enough for teams to race the full three miles after three years of shortened courses or canceled small boats racing.”

“This was a great way to close the season,” said head coach Ben Steele. “It was also bittersweet, since this is the last fall race for our seniors, though we do have all of spring to look forward to with them. I’m proud of how the team came together throughout the season and looking forward to building up our strength and technique in the erg and weight room.”

Teachout agreed: “With the largest youth team VIRC has seen in a long time, I was a little concerned about wrangling the masses, but both the youth and adult teams came together and made each regatta a smooth process that got better as the season went on.”

Notable finishes throughout the day started with a strong first place from the Men’s Masters 4x Under 55 Avg Age. Steele hopped into this boat with teammates from Lake Washington Rowing Club and College Club Seattle, highlighting one of the most unusual features of rowing: sometimes a coach is racing at the same time as the youth athletes!

Next up was a second place finish earning a silver medal for the Boys U-17 4x+ of Xander Nelson, Henry Cooper, Quentin Cherry, Lance Westbrook, and coxswain Alekos Dalinis. The boat was just five seconds behind first place Oregon Rowing Unlimited, one of the powerhouse sculling teams on the West Coast.

Both the Women’s Jr 4x and Girls U17 4x+ finished fourth in their events. The Women’s Junior 4x of Liv Ormseth, Gwyn Ranney, Laurel Calhoun, and Selene Dalinis posted the third fastest time for a U.S. crew in the event, and the Girls U17 4x+ of Rose Ely, Kina Ladbon-Reusch, Gwen Tomlinson, Yvie Hu, and coxswain Ruby Sorensen posted the second fastest time for a U.S. crew in their event.

Rounding out the day was the Women’s Masters 4x 55+ of Therese Smith, Gail Brownell, Jeannette Bannink, and Su DeWalt posting a third place finish and gaining a return bid for next year.

“It was fun to see all of our hard work pay off today, and I felt that everyone really put their best effort into our race,” Selene Dalinis said.

“This season has been unlike any fall in the past,” teammate Tyler Davis said. “Not only has our team grown so much in terms of the sheer number of people who have been attracted to this sport and have been inspired by it, but also our development on the water and in the mind has been amazing, and it shows with all of the medals we’ve brought home and everything we’ve achieved in the past two months. I really believe that everyone on the team is proud of themselves and our club collectively for this fall.”

Registration for winter training with VIRC for both adults and youth is open; visit to sign up. New rowers are welcome to join at any time throughout the winter.

Delany Steele is the boathouse director and novice coach of the Vashon Island Rowing Club.