Crew makes headway towards nationals
By Garrett Mueller, Business Editor
For nine months, both Vashon Island crew teams have been training for the climax of their season — the chance to place in regional competition and go on to nationals.
Regionals took place from May 17 through 19 in Vancouver, Washington. Rowers could qualify for nationals in the single, double, pair, quad, four or eight events. Some of the events have lightweight counterparts as well.
Nationals for crew will be held at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, on June 8. To advance to nationals, rowers had to place in the top three at their respective regional competitions.
“Nationals is the one race you have to actually qualify for, so you know you’re racing the best of the best from each region,” junior rower Kate Kelly said. “It’s great to see all types of people there that are so good at what they do.”
There are two rowing clubs on the island; Vashon Island Rowing Club (VIRC), which rows from Jensen point, and Burton Beach Rowing Club (BBRC), which launches from Camp Burton. While both teams are co-ed, VIRC has mostly male athletes, and BBRC is comprised largely of female rowers. Both teams can be seen in Quartermaster Harbor during early morning training and again in the afternoon. The two teams don’t often compete against each other, but both have qualified rowers for nationals.
From BBRC, senior rower Mabel Moses will be proceeding to nationals in the single, while Kelly and sophomore islander Gabbie Graves will be competing in the pair.
VIRC will be sending senior rowers Rohin Petram and Tor Ormseth, who placed third in the double.
“For the first 90 percent of the race, Tor and I were in fifth, and with 600 meters to go, we gave a powerful sprint and ended up finishing little more than one second ahead of that fourth place boat,” Petram said. “It was a really close race.”
However, the Vashon and Burton rowing clubs may be at a slight disadvantage to some of the other teams at nationals this year.
“The challenge for crew on the west coast is that [nationals is] in Florida, so we’re not used to the 100-percent humidity and the 9,500-degree weather we will experience,” VIRC head coach Ben Steele said.
Due to the time required to participate in crew, rowers have had to balance the commitment to their sports with school, work, and social activities. This year, nationals takes place on the weekend of prom, and some rowers have had to miss graduation. However, rowers do have allotted time off.
“[In] the summer we get a bit of time off, which kids can choose to do with as they please,” Petram said. “Some kids will continue to row throughout the summer, others will do a different sport like swimming, [and] others will take the time off completely to recharge for the next season.”
Despite the time and work commitments necessary for crew, both teams return every year in the fall, building the program for years to come.
“I am hopeful that the rowers that just started this year might be looking up to me with that same motivation that I once had when I was their age, and with any luck, they will surpass me when they become seniors,” Petram said. “Passing the torch down to the generation behind you is one of the best parts about rowing.”