VIRC Hosts Unique Rowing Drag Race
With the north wind Boreas casting a jaundiced eye on Jensen Point, VIRC hosted its inaugural Drag Race in Quartermaster Harbor on Sunday morning June 2nd. Eleven masters rowers (7 men and 4 women) braved the choppy waters, rowing single sculls in side by side 500 meter sprint races. Bruce Morser’s elegant sailing vessel, “The Courageous”, festooned with two drag race light trees served as the starting line with the finish off the tip of Jensen Point. Two kayaks dangling from the bow and stern of the Courageous functioned as “stake” boats where VIRC volunteers held the stern of each competitor’s boat to ensure a fair start.
Mid way through the event the unusual “stake’ boat configuration contributed some levity when with the winds picked up and the volunteers were forced to hold on tighter and tighter while the rowers gained the correct “point” down the course. Without being able to see the lights counting down the start to green, one volunteer/rower combination mistimed the release with the rower heading down the course and the volunteer heading into the sound.
John Christianson of Bainbridge Island Rowing Club won the men’s competition coming back from an early loss to enter the final from the repechage (a nice French word for “second chance”) bracket. Carolyn Thompson of the Vancouver (BC) Rowing Club was the women’s winner.
Vashon Island Junior Crew rowers also competed in some exhibition events with Emmie Kehoe winning over Charles Elliott in a singles event. Any handicaps due rowers based on age or gender were accounted for at the start meaning that most races has extremely tight and exciting finishes.
An erg was also set up to allow junior crew members to compete in a one-minute race to see who could row the most meters in that time. Jacob Plihal nosed out coach Tom Kicinski in the men’s competition with Kalie Heffernan taking the women’s bracket.
Event organizer Nancy Foster-Moss thanked all of the rowers and volunteers for making this first event a memorable one. Colby Atwood, the club president who came up with the idea for this unique racing format said, “We learned a lot in this first year and received some really positive feedback from the participants [and US Rowing referees]. We definitely will be back next year to grow this race.”
By: Pat Call, rower and father of two junior rowers