Head of the Charles and American Lake Regattas 2015

Head of the Charles and American Lake Regattas 2015

The 51st Head of the Charles Regatta was held in Boston this past weekend and with over two thousand boats and ten thousand rowers it is one of the world’s largest.  A cool Saturday with strong head winds facing the rowers morphed into the first taste of winter with a tailwind and near-freezing temperatures on Sunday when all three of Vashon’s crews competed.  Nonetheless it was a beautiful day with the eddies along the riverbanks decorated with yellow, orange and red flotsam from the trees lining the course in full fall glory.

The junior women’s eight (Riley Lynch -stroke, Rhea Enzian, Virginia Miller, Katrina Heffernan, Capriel Turner, Maddie McEachern, Emma Greenlee, Emily Milbrath and Ally Clevenger – coxswain)  having placed in the top 10 in last year’s regatta was invited to return and although this year’s place (30th out of eighty five) was not quite as high it still was good enough to secure them an invitation back to next year’s regatta as well.

Most of the events at this regatta are by invitation or lottery and this year Vashon did not secure any lottery picks.  But there are a few races (labeled Director’s Challenges) that are first come pay-in events.  Vashon entered master women’s and junior men’s quads in two of these races.  These events is have a wide range of talent and age – everything from world champions to seventy year old veterans.  Both of the Vashon crews finished in the middle of field in Sunday’s races with the women’s quad (Kim Gorforth, Su Dewalt, Mary Rothermel and Marilyn Kleyn) placing 18th out of thirty-four entries. The junior men (Patrick Hanson, Fletcher Call, David Nguyen and Forrest Miller) finished 21st out of 40 while continuing an unfortunate Vashon junior men’s tradition of incurring penalty time when, while passing another boat early in the race, they were forced off the course to avoid a collision (their raw time placed them 12th).

In addition to Vashon’s current rowers the island was represented by six recent alumni of the junior program: Kirsten Girard (University of Tennessee), Taegan Lynch (University of Miami), Jacob Plihal (Northeastern University), Tate Gill (Boston University), Leanne Anderson (Fairfield University) and Mia Croonquist (University of California, Berkeley).  All of the alumni boats finished well but Mia and her Cal teammates had a spectacular row in the Women’s Championship eights race. Starting in next to last position out of 33 entries they passed 8 other boats and finished with the winning time by 25 seconds.  In contrast the Men’s  Championship eights race had the top four boats separated by less than 8 seconds.

Coach Richard Parr was proud of each of the teams that made the trek to Boston: “this regatta is one of the premier rowing events on the annual world calendar.  To compete is an honor and our boats acquitted themselves very well against world class competition.”

Meanwhile near Tacoma assistant coach Tom Kicinski and the rest of the junior program and some masters rowers journeyed to the annual 5K American Lake Fall Regatta where the club won 9 gold medals, four silvers and 1 bronze in 20 races entered.  Both the novice junior men and women won their eight, four and quad races.  Mother (Mary Shemeta) and daughter (Rhiannon Simmons) won their respective singles races.  And Mei Lei Vandervelde and Tabitha Illerbrunn won in the junior women’s double category. Master Fred Sayer competing in his first singles head race finished with a silver medal.  It was another strong showing for the Vashon crews with the success of the novice rowers pointing to the future prospects for the program.

Text by Pat Call

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