As 2016 ends and an exciting new rowing season begins, Chinook has a right to be proud of all we’ve accomplished. In two short years, we’ve come from being a “3+” to being crowned the top Master’s Rowing Team in the country! We should be thrilled not only with our results, but with the way we have conducted ourselves at regattas.
Our year started out again with rowing camps in Sarasota, Florida, where 32 women participated in two separate sessions coached by Marlene Royle. A regatta on the 2017 World Championship course in between the two camps gave us a great chance for half the athletes to use what we had been practicing, while giving the second group of campers a jump start into their sessions. Thanks to Dragos and Kerri for their hospitality throughout both camps – we couldn’t have done it without you!
A mixed men/women training camp in San Diego in March brought in some new athletes and a different opportunity to train on both sweep and sculling under the eagle-eyed coaching of Scott Anderson and Mac Nash. Just one month later, the Crew Classic brought out some of our best men and women back to sunny San Diego – several from the East Coast were even happier to trade ergs for a real oar and hop into an 8+ to race the windy but always fun 2K course. A team party hosted by Lesleh and Bill launched us in good style and offered a unique chance to catch up and meet new athletes before the race began.
We branched out into several new races this year, including Southwest Regionals in Oakland, California. Of course we had athletes from across the country in that race, not just those in the southwest.
Skipping Diamond States this year, we focused on Canadian Henley in St. Catharines for the last preparation regatta before Nationals. Thanks to the locals, Janet Lancaster and Deb Lloyd who helped expand our wine tasting horizons before/after the regatta. On race day we found ourselves running around like crazy to compete in all the heats, semifinals and finals due to the high number of entries in each race. While exhausting, it did help prepare us for Nationals.
Masters Nationals in Worcester, Massachusetts, was the highlight of our sprint season and we entered more boats in more races than ever before. Since we were on the opposite side of the course from the majority of the rowers, it was often when visiting the expo/shops/awards area that we faced the inevitable questions: “What is Chinook? Who are you guys and where do you come from?” On our own side, we kept busy all day, every day with the longest and most complex schedule ever seen taped to the trailer to keep us on track. Thanks to everyone – rowers and family members — for contributing and making sure no Chinook athletes ever launched or landed on their own. That’s what helped set us apart from the rest – we have fun together but also take care of each other, and people noticed.
The camaraderie and strong training paid off as we won the women’s points trophy and the overall points trophy. Great job everybody – now this “upstart” team definitely has a target on our backs.
Once the sprint season ended, we shifted our attention to the head season, with a camp in San Diego giving two 8’s of athletes the chance to get in some longer practices in the wind and choppy water (something that would come in handy in Boston in October!). A special thanks to Richard Yocum for letting us invade his house even when he was gone to gather in the evening.
We had some fun racing in head races across the continent this fall. Some of us went to the Petaluma Wine Country Regatta in California and even got to see our own RocknRower, Cristina Battani, in action. On the other coast athletes raced in Canada at the Head of the Trent and the Head of the Welland Five Bridges Fall Classic. Definitely different atmospheres as those of us in Canada enjoyed a big fire pit to get warm on a very chilly day while those in the wine country faced brisk winds but much warmer weather.
We proved ourselves amongst the best masters in the world once again at the Head of the Charles with multiple crews finishing in the top 4, amongst an extremely strong field in all the events. The weather was typical Head of the Charles – gale force winds, drenching downpours and bumpy water conditions. Our lightweight women were fabulous in difficult conditions against crews half their age. Our men, though perhaps disappointed in their placing, rowed a tough race against a very strong field in both the 8 and the 4. Everywhere we looked we were up against outstanding accomplished athletes.
Returning to the Head of the Hooch we once again won the Master’s Club points trophy and our men won the 8+ with an amazing race! Our mixed 8+ had a lot of fun and managed for the 3rd year in a row to outpace the field. The women’s 4x enjoyed a fantastic win that despite a great row caught them a little off guard – judging by the shrieks when they learned the results. Awesome work everyone.
A final camp in December preceding the new San Diego Winter Classic 6K regatta was a fun way to finish out the year. We can’t even tally all the representation at races throughout North America in 2016, suffice it to say we are thrilled that you continue to support your local clubs, and work hard to be a part of this amazing organization as well.
It is apparent that as Chinook has excelled other clubs have taken notice and adjusted their strategies. We are facing tougher competition than ever, as was apparent at every regatta we attended. Long established clubs with hundreds of skilled rowers have us in their sights and are putting together boats with the purpose of taking us on. Chinook has raised the standard and other clubs are responding. This is a good thing – it’s fun to go to regattas and work even harder for the hardware!
So train hard over the winter, on the erg and in the weight room and if you’re lucky, on the water. We have a lot of fun ahead of us in 2017, including the World Masters Games in New Zealand!!
Thanks to all of you for your dedication this year. We look forward to another great year of rowing and building even stronger friendships.