Vashon posts nail-biting wins at Northwest Rowing Championships

The only way to end a rowing season in the Pacific Northwest is by experiencing all weather conditions in one regatta.

The only way to end a rowing season in the Pacific Northwest is by experiencing all weather conditions in one regatta.

Rain, wind, sun, and clouds all featured prominently at the 2024 Northwest Rowing Championships. Nonetheless, the Vashon Island Rowing Club’s Youth Team strapped their feet into the shells and sprinted their hearts out.

Whether on land or on water, the team’s strong connection was clear. Fourteen lineups made it to A finals, seven lineups made it to B finals, and three lineups went to C finals. Teammates on land raced to fill the beach and chant “Go! Vashon!” for every race.

Some discombobulated bystanders even joined in, caught up in the energy.

“I’m proud to see how far this team has come,” Head Coach Ben Steele said. “In 2018, our squad had dropped to 14 athletes and a single girl on the team. This year, we came here at 45 strong with a strong women’s squad and depth to the group as a whole.”

Races from the weekend included high octane neck-and-neck races in their respective finals, none more nail-biting than a photo finish so close that the officials awarded a tie: In the B final, first place went to both the women’s Youth 2x of Vashon’s Selene Dalinis and Laurel Calhoun and their counterparts from Bainbridge Island Rowing Club.

By the end of the weekend, eight boats qualified for Youth Nationals. Five of those crews will be headed to Sarasota, Florida on June 5 to represent Vashon and the Northwest Region at the USRowing Youth National Championship.

Those boats include the youngest and oldest athletes on the team. The U15 Men’s 4x+ (Arlo Harris, Alden Metler, Brendan Blower, Grayson Hamilton, coxswain Kai Graham) will travel with the U16 Women’s 4x+ (Rose Ely, Ren Colvos, Gwen Tomlinson, Emily Rock, coxswain Alekos Dalinis); Men’s U17 4x (Henry Cooper, Tyler Davis, Quentin Cherry, Xander Nelson); Women’s U17 4x (Yvie Hu, Rose Ely, Gwyn Ranney, Ella Odegard), and senior Liv Ormseth in the Women’s Youth 1x.

This is the 13th consecutive year (excluding 2020) that VIRC qualified boats for Youth Nationals.

“The highlight for me was watching everyone sprint to the beach to cheer for every single race,” Ben Steele said. “That kind of support and camaraderie is what we hope these athletes are getting out of this sport and on our team.”

Those interested in rowing, youth or adult, can visit for program information. All are welcome.

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