Solstice Scrimmage 2016

Solstice Scrimmage 2016

Winter is a season of short days and fickle weather, so for most crew teams, it means lot of training on rowing machines and not much time on the water. That makes it a bit of risk to invite teams to scrimmage in the middle of December, but that did not deter the Vashon Island Rowing Club’s (VIRC) Juniors program from doing so for the first time. They were rewarded with a lucky break in the weather this last Sunday, hosting three other teams, and finishing first in two-thirds of the contested races in which they rowed. It may very well turn into an annual thing.

Jensen Point’s boathouse was bustling, with teams from Olympia Area Rowing, Lakeside School and Seattle Preparatory School joining the VIRC juniors for a morning of races in small boats only— singles, doubles, pairs and just two coxed fours. The focus on small boats for the scrimmage is because they force rowers to hone skills that are unique to small boats, and that is the focus of the VIRC’s Winter program.

Having VIRC host what was dubbed the Solstice Scrimmage is something that evolved from previous scrimmages with Olympia and conversations with other teams. “The idea behind the scrimmage was really to break up the monotony of winter training and to try something different,” said VIRC Coach Richard Parr. “The feedback was great, and we’ll likely make it a regular feature.”

The initial plan for the scrimmage was to hold a 2K race where all boats leave at the same time. But wind in the morning, along with hazards on the water (including a large barge with a crane anchored directly North of the point) conspired to adjust the race course to a 4K head race, where boats leave one after another. By late morning, the wind picked up enough that the course was shortened further, but all racers finished without capsizing or colliding with water-borne debris. In addition to the club motorboats, additional boats were borrowed from junior parents to ensure safety on the cold, windy day. “Because of the shape of the harbor, we could do a circuitous 4k route that was semi-sheltered from the boat house, around the inner harbor by the Yacht Club, along by Judd Creek and back to the club,” said Parr.

Vashon’s rowers had the advantage of being more familiar with the harbor, came in first in a dozen races, two of them with no competitors from other programs. Of note, Aidan Teachout came out ahead of three singles from Seattle Prep in his race— just shy of a full minute ahead of the closest one. Riley Lynch won both a race in the single and in a pair with Rhea Enzian. Mabel Moses won the lightweight single and went on to race with Olivia White to win the U16 lightweight double race as well. The fastest race time of the day—14:44—was in a heat with only one boat—a VIRC men’s lightweight U18 four, with a coxswain. Parr says they rowed very well despite the rough water.

VIRC’s spring season starts in January.

Article by Anne Higuera

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