Head of the Charles Regatta 2012

Head of the Charles Regatta 2012

VIRC sent five boats to compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA on October 20 and 21.  The invitational is the largest regatta expo in the world, drawing thousands of rowers from around the globe and nearly 300,000 spectators. Vashon was placed in a lottery and ultimately selected, thus becoming one of the smallest rowing clubs to attend. This long standing regatta is known for the challenging five kilometer course that has three major turns and seven bridges to navigate under along the Charles River. “One of the big problems with the Head of the Charles is it’s hard to say how fast a boat really is”, said Coach Richard Parr. “With the turns, bridges and people in your way, it’s not unusual to have to stop to safely get through certain areas of the course. Strategy is every bit as important as speed in this one”, he said.

Gus Magnuson was the first Vashon rower to compete in the Men’s Club Single.  Magnuson said he was nervous to be the first to race but excited at the same time.  Rowing in a field of 64 scullers of various ages, Magnuson overtook two boats during his race to finish in 5th place among the youth competitors and 18th overall.  “He did a phenomenal job”, said Parr.  “He navigated traffic really well. Gus kept his head, was aggressive but knew where he was and what was around him.”

Masters Su DeWalt, Kim Goforth, Debby Jackson and Marilyn Klyen raced in the Director’s Challenge Women’s Quad, an event with highly skilled rowers, including Olympians. Although the Vashon women came in 17th, they were the fastest compared to other women in their age category.


Junior rowers Tate Gill and Baxter Call ran into trouble during the Men’s Youth Double race. They were penalized twice for failure to yield, something Coach Parr described as a harsh but fair call because the officials are very strict about that out on the course. “They had pretty heavy traffic.  While trying to avoid a slower boat across a turn, a faster boat came up from behind.  They didn’t leave enough room for the faster boat to go through”, said Parr.  Their finish time would have put them in the middle of the field had they not had the three minute penalty.

Kalie Heffernan and Anna Ripley had a fine race in the Women’s Youth Double event, finishing 11th.  Heffernan attributes their success to the stroke rate they maintained and having a clear path throughout the course. “We passed three boats overall.  One at the start and two in the middle of the race”, said Heffernan.  “I’m really glad at how well we did because finishing 11th out of 39 is pretty sweet.”


Wrapping up the weekend was the Women’s Youth Eight, a race that had 85 entries. Rowing for Vashon were  Halimah Griffin, Maya Krah, Teagan Lynch, Emmie Kehoe, TerraJane Ripley, Kirsten Girard, Katelyn Carte, Bryn Gilbert and coxed by Ally Clevenger.   Parr said they were fast but had major steering difficulties.  In a borrowed shell from a Canada team, coxswain Clevenger was working with a boat that was very different than what she was used to.  She had to stop three times to avoid collisions.  Parr instructed the crew safety first above all else and Clevenger followed that to the rule.  Parr said the boat clearly had good speed, as it still finished in the top half of its field.

The trip was a great experience for the team.  They met Olympic and world champion rowers and coxswains and watched them race, along with former VIJC members who now row and coach at the collegiate level.  The thrill of their own turn on the Charles River will not be soon forgotten.   “I’m really proud of them. Effort-wise and sportsmanship-wise, they held their heads high”, Parr said.

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