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The First 250: October 4

BY LUKE REYNOLDS

Sand, surf, salt, and sweat. 

That has been the name of the game for the past two weeks as rowers from around the world took to the oars on the beach and off the coast of Oeiras, Portugal. So, if you don’t like sand in your uni, stop reading here. 

Last week we took a look at the results of the 2021 World Rowing Beach Sprints so this week let’s dive into the 2021 World Rowing Coastal Championships.

2021 World Rowing Coastal Championships

Hosted off the coast of Oeiras, at Portugal at Praia da Torre, coastal rowers raced each other across seven events. 34 countries were represented. 

The racing truly had it all—collisions, sprinting through the sand during a beach start modification to racing, traffic jams around buoys—but the story that really struck as a poignant moment in all the chaos was when Norway’s Kjetil Borch and Jan Oscar Stabe Helvig broke an oar due to a collision and Maxime Andre and Gaston Mercier of Belgium passed off their oar to the downtrodden Norwegians who were then able to row on. If that doesn’t encapsulate the great respect rowers have than one another then what does? (No, seriously, we’d love to hear stories of rowers going above and beyond for each other—competitors or teammates—drop us a line editor@rowingnews.com).

As far as the results go, it was Ukraine who led the medal table with Spain close behind. For those who skipped a geography class or two, Ukraine has over 1,700 miles of coastline. Spain has over 3,000 miles and the United States has 95,471.

Five U.S. crews made A finals at the regatta. In the big boats, the men’s coxed quad finished sixth and the women’s coxed quad finished ninth. In the women’s solo events Bair Island Aquatic Center’s Hannah Wayment-Steele finished 14th and Park City Rowing Academy’s Dayna Deuter finished 16th. In the women’s double, Newport Aquatic Center’s Hillary Saeger and Erin Roberts finished 15th.

With the news last week that World Rowing’s chief is confident that coastal rowing will be on the Olympic docket in 2028, this is definitely a space to watch over the coming months and years.

Next year’s coastal and beach sprint championships will take place in Great Britain in October. 

Domestic Events

It was another big weekend of head racing domestically. From junior to collegiate (and masters, too, we haven’t forgotten about you) races took place across the United States and in Canada. 

In Oklahoma City, it was another successful year under the lights at the OCU Head of the Oklahoma with its traditional 4,000-meter head racing followed by 500-meter “night sprints” under the stadium lights on the Oklahoma River. 

For those who have never had the opportunity to race under the lights, it’s worth making a trip to the heartland. It makes for a long day of racing—or coaching—but it always ends up worth it as rowers finally have the opportunity to live out the plot of “Friday Night Lights.” 

In the women’s youth eight it was Austin who would end up with the fastest time while home team, OKC Riversport would take the silver and bronze medals with their A and B entries in the second and third position. In the men’s youth eight, Dallas United won gold and bronze with Dallas Jesuit sandwiched between in second place. In the mixed masters quad, Austin won followed by OKC Riversport and Boulder, respectively.

At the other HOTO, more than 70 events were contested during the Head of the Ohio in Pittsburgh. In the most entered event of the regatta, the women’s youth four, Villa Joseph Marie finished the 3.2 mile course with the fastest time, winning gold medal. Three Rivers and Detroit finished second and third.

In the Pacific Northwest, Holy Names Academy hosted the 27th iteration of the Tail of the Lake. The men’s and women’s junior doubles were the most entered events coming in with 30 and 25 entries, respectively. The Commencement Bay entry of Jones and Bessler won the men’s event finishing with a time of 14:48.9. In the women’s junior double event Oregon Unlimited’s Young and Whildin took the top spot.

Race for the Cure kicked off its virtual event on October 1 and will accept entries all month long in its various challenges. 

In Other Rowing News

One of the biggest rowing stories of the week took place on the Charles River where Trevor Appier and Beatrice Sims, both Northeastern University rowing coaches, saved a driver who had suffered a medical event and driven his car into the river. The two were able to throw the man a life vest and pull him onto their launch. 

“You’re sort of in shock when it happens, but being able to react appropriately in a situation like that is something that we do train for and we do prepare for because you never know what is going to happen out there on the water,” Sims told WBZ CBS 4.

On the Olympic front, President of World Rowing Jean-Christophe Rolland wrote in a report prepared for the upcoming 2021 World Rowing Ordinary Congress that he is encouraged by the feedback received from the International Olympic Committee that coastal rowing will replace lightweight rowing and be contested at the 2028 Games in L.A. 

Three weeks until Head of the Charles!

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