2016 – A Year in Review

21 Dec
December 21, 2016

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.

Chinook Winds Blow Strong in 2015

16 Dec
December 16, 2015

Looking back on this year with Chinook, it’s amazing to think of how much we accomplished. From February camps in Florida to the last regatta in San Diego in November, we used every bit of the year and flew across countries and oceans to come together and row – and to make our mark as Chinook Performance Racing.

We couldn’t have known how well this year would be back in February, but it sure started out great with two camps at North Palm Beach Rowing Club. For some of us, it was the first time we met Marlene Royle in person (she’s not just on the Internet or in our inboxes) and got to benefit from her wonderful coaching as we took out quads and an eight. The sculling and sweep practice were very welcome – especially for those suffering the cold, snowy winter – and Adrienne Moore (not one to overstate things) declared it was the “best camp ever”.

The first test of the year came at the always fun San Diego Crew Classic, where we won the E 8+ for the second year running and set the tone for the year. Time to show people how strong those Chinook winds can be!

Our trip to Portugal was a first as we acted on our call to “come row the world with us” and planned a rowing vacation that didn’t involve racing. What a great time we all had – bike tours before camp then celebrating some milestone birthdays with lots of Portuguese wine and cake in Avis as we enjoyed an exquisite location and great coaching. New words and phrases like “Watch how you hold your h’oars” and “I may be man, but I am not stupid” have now entered our vocabulary and endeared Luis to us forever. A few of us even had the enviable pleasure of rowing behind Luis and Luis in a quad!!

We put our skills to the test at Diamond States when we went to beautiful St. Andrews for the camp with Scott Anderson down from St. Catharines to coach us. Practicing up and down the racecourse before the crowds arrived served us well as we had lots of the other rowers, sitting across the pond, wondering what Chinook was and why were they winning so much.

A small contingent headed up to St. Catharines to race at the Canadian Henley. The Canadians understand what a Chinook wind is, so perhaps weren’t quite as surprised when we took gold in the women’s 8+, women’s 4x, womens 4+, womens 2x, and mixed 8+. It wasn’t easy with those conditions, and an everlasting memory will be seeing brave Terry Walters sculling in a single in those crazy waves.

We fielded a very big team with more than 40 athletes for Masters Nationals in steamy Camden, New Jersey. Our team may not practice together and may come from all over, but everyone pulled together at the two campsites we staked out and helped everyone else over the grueling, 4-day event. Lesleh showed her logistics skills with the banner-sized race schedules and lineups that must have taken ages to put together but helped keep us organized and on track. Our small but powerful men’s team of Mac Nash, Bob Reichart, Scott Anderson, Mike McGuirk and Ted Kakas helped us win points in the men’s and mixed categories. We won the women’s points trophy and showed our depth by taking gold in the C, D and F women’s 8+s and took second in the E race by just 0.25 seconds!! Though we entered only open and no club events, and had no composite entries we were also in the running for the overall point trophy.

Our next test was at FISA Worlds in Hazewinkel, Belgium, and we took 26 athletes to race against some very strong European and Australian teams. In addition to enjoying some delicious Belgian chocolates and beer, we won several golds (including the first race of the regatta in the women’s 4-) and had strong showings in several races that we didn’t win. Jack Davis raced his first race ever and Todd Chisholm had his international debut in a couples’ mixed 4x with Doc and DCC. Both marriages are still intact.

As always, the Head of the Charles felt like a highlight of our year, when all our hard work on the water, in the weight room and on the ergs paid off. We fielded five boats this year, including our first Chinook men’s 8+ which took 9th place in the senior masters event after starting at number 51!! We showed our colors on the medals podium: our senior masters women’s 8+ won gold over Long Beach and Marin, and the senior masters 4+ powered its way to a 3rd-place finish. Our grand masters 4+ also had a great race, finishing second. The “youngsters” did us proud too – the masters 8+ pushed past many boats to finish 5th after starting at the back of the pack and the masters 4+ took 10th in a huge field.

A special shout-out to our extraordinary coxies who steered such fantastic courses and pulled us all together: Raj Petersson, Demi Good, Anita Sarrett, Wendy MacPherson, Lesleh Wright and Deb Lloyd.

One of the best spectator regattas of the year, the Head of the Hooch, was cold and rainy on Saturday but we still did really well and won the overall points trophy. The women’s 8+ won a barn-burner by .3 seconds while the men’s 8+ won easily. Joining together, the men and women took gold in the women’s 2x, mixed 8+, mixed 4x, and the mixed 4+.

To finish out the year we sent just a small contingent to the San Diego Fall Classic. What an ending to a great year! We were racing well in the women’s Open 8+ when we hit something coming through the last bridge (a sea lion? Probably a shark!). Without the skeg, Lesleh had to put her hand in the water to steer to avoid buoys and boats.

While in San Diego, Doc got to see the development center for all Chinook athletes on Fiesta Island, a new location for San Diego Chinook to row and train, and a future site of camps. This is a sunny and warm location that is open to all athletes to visit throughout the year, and get some time on the water with friends and teammates. We’re looking forward to many more adventures there – with or without the sea critters taking part.

Thanks so much to everyone for a hard year of work. It’s never easy to train apart but helps when so many of us followed Marlene Royle’s training program – we could commiserate when we had some of those killer erg pieces. We couldn’t have done so well without equipment support from Hudson Boat Works and Greg Doyle at Croker USA. We also appreciate St. Andrews Alumni Racing for their help at Diamond States and the super boatmen and equipment from A.G.S.R. Gyas in Europe.

Now that we’ve shown what Chinook winds can do, let’s keep it up and be even stronger and faster next year. Here’s to a wonderful, healthy and fun 2016.
Written by Deb Charles Chisholm

If you build it…

26 Nov
November 26, 2014

I can’t help but go back to my years in Iowa, there is truth in the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come!”. Come they did, with game on!

What an amazing year for our brand new rowing team! This has been a year of new friendships, and surprising growth. It has been a gift to find so many women and men that have their sites set on similar goals, working and training on your own, day in and day out. That dogged determination, and self discipline is what we depend on to drive our program. We appreciate the effort and commitment that you have made to your sport and your own fitness, as well as to each athlete on this team. More importantly we appreciate that when we come together it does feel like a team that is united, and working as one. Your focus on what we can do “together” is matched by your amazing generous personalities!

Results from 2014 are “golden” to say the least. We surprised ourselves at the Crew Classic. Fortunately the website was up and running, because Chinook had people talking in San Diego that weekend… and many of you found us because of our performance at that regatta.

Our summer racing was extraordinary – considering we barely knew one another and our introductions occurred as we were heading out for our initial races at Diamond States and U.S. Nationals! Diamond States was a blast, it always feels like we are in our own little world at St. Andrews. The coaching was great, and it was in Delaware that we started talking about Chinook becoming a men’s and women’s team. No egos, no bullshit, is pretty much the mantra at Chinook…and our only additional requirement to hard work. Our racing at both summer regattas was fantastic. I am not sure of the count at Nationals but we definitely won the C,D,and E women’s 8’s and cox 4’s! There were many more…such extraordinary racing!

We put our final stamp on things at the Head of the Charles with remarkable performances in each and every category we entered. The Senior Master 8+ tends to stand out starting 33rd and missing first place by less than .3 seconds, BUT don’t be fooled, the performance of the cox 4’s was INCREDIBLE! The four is a tough boat to jump into without practicing together and lay the hammer down, but we did it! It was CPR’s goal to have three solid crews that performed well. All 3 boats started in the 30’s and all were extraordinary, finishing 2nd in the 8, and 5th and 6th in our coxed fours! We could not be prouder of the efforts by each and every athlete.

Our final race of the season, the Head of the Hooch, had unfortunate cancellations to Saturdays race schedule which left some of our rowers without races. This does not happen often, but it was a reminder that we participate in a sport that is affected by wind and weather! We managed to pull off a few good races on Sunday with a mixed 8+ that left most of the competition in the their wake, winning by 30+ seconds. Our women’s 4x that looked absolutely amazing and despite a couple steering setbacks managed a good solid race, I think placing 5th thanks to Yesim’s gutsy steering (All the photos look terrific too!). Kerri Davis did a fantastic job, fearlessly representing in the lightweight master’s single. Well done, kudos to all of you.

We are so excited moving into the 2015 racing season. Marlene Royle is busy putting together a training plan that will work for all of us. Some of you may choose to opt out of the program as you work within the training plans that your home clubs offer. Whatever we do – lets make every effort to be stronger, more aggressive in our training, and support one another throughout the year.

Chinook is after all a team, and an extraordinary team at that! Lets see what we can do in 2015!

Florida Winter Rowing Camps 2015

23 Nov
November 23, 2014

Please join us this Winter in Florida with our trainer extraordinaire, Marlene Royle.  If you have any questions please contact Lesleh@chinookperformanceracing.org.  SPACE IS LIMITED, so don’t delay!


Summer Potluck at the Water’s Edge

14 Jul
July 14, 2014

We have been playing a coast to coast game of chess on google docs for the past few weeks.   We have all these talented women who have thrown their hats into the ring to row with Chinook this summer, and we are working feverishly to put all of you in the right combinations.   Only time will tell whether we have done right by each athlete, but let it be known, we have worked very hard to make the experience a successful one.

The rest is up to each rower.

Ask yourself if you have done your part.   To race with a team such as ours, there is an obligation on the part of each individual to be self motivated.  You are ultimately responsible for your training, and fitness and preparation prior to arriving at each regatta.    We trust you are ready and raring to go.  Ask yourself, are you mentally prepared for the experience of meeting new people – embracing diversity and looking for the positive in each moment.    Coaching styles, coxing styles,  and personalities can all be very different, lets celebrate what we all have to offer.   Even go so far as to ask yourself to be the one who works the hardest to make this the best experience you have ever had.    After all, it is what we each bring to the table that makes any potluck great.  It will set the tone for this collaborative  rowing opportunity.  Bring your very best, and dish it out with power and grace.

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Come row the world with us!

03 Mar
March 3, 2014

Chinook Performance Racing is a rowing team built on a foundation of friendship, respect, mutual understanding, and a competitive athletic vision that reaches beyond the borders of the USA and Canada.   We are a coxed 3 at the moment, with a handful of friends who also happen to be excellent rowers – who are interested in traveling the world, competing in races that appeal to us, and hopefully enjoying some success along the way.  We are professionals  who understand what it means to work hard, support our families and train hard to support our habit!  We are spread from one side of the country to the other – north, south, east and west.  We even sneak up across the Canadian border to Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

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We are a not for profit team.  We intend to stay that way.  To be a part of this team requires the ability to fund trips to regattas throughout North America and sometimes Europe.  We will also be hosting rowing camps throughout the year – none of which are “required” in order to race with us.  They are tools to bring us together, and we try to time them with races we are attending.  We have a quiver full of coaches, excellent coaches, who are willing to meet us in various locations and spend some time refining our technique and bringing us together.  Xeno Muller, Marlene Royale, Kathy Boyes, Scott Anderson, Christine Wilson, are just some of our coaches.  We are so excited to have them want to be a part of Chinook Performance Racing.

In the next month we will race at our first regatta, the San Diego Crew Classic.  We are entered in the E Eight, which is essentially  a boat full of 50 somethings.  It is a very competitive category –  a few of us have been chasing after this medal for a few years.  It is tough to escape the winter doldrums and jump in a boatload of athletes from all over the country – and make it click just right at the first race of the season.  However, it speaks to our perseverance and tenacity that we keep coming back year after year because we are determined to make this one our own!

We have listed regattas we intend on competing at this year on our calendar page.  Some of the regattas are great “getting to know you” regattas.  We will do our best to vet the athletes that apply to row with Chinook, fit into appropriate categories, and then invite you to race at regattas that we feel are best suited to us together.  We are taking a team to Masters Nationals in Grand Rapids Michigan this summer and would like a team diverse in age.   We are holding this team to a fairly high standard and hope that everyone understands that we are a high performance team.  We expect your fitness levels to be optimum, and your rowing ability to match.


We are a competitive group with high expectations.  We have our sites set on winning the Head of the Charles in the Senior Masters 8+ if we get through the draw this year.  As a new team we have to just keep our fingers crossed that we get in.  We will attend the Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga this year as well the Wine Country Regatta in Petaluma, California – both regattas are in beautiful locations and offer some great racing opportunities.   The wine isn’t bad either.

We will try to attend the World FISA Masters annually.  This year the races are in Australia and the timing is just too close to the Head of the Charles to swing it.  We are all set for the races next year in Belgium – and we will host a 2-3 day rowing camp ahead of the regatta at a lovely rowing club in Holland.  Great atmosphere, great equipment, great racing!  We have a men’s team that is looking forward to racing with us in mixed events – all very competitive rowers – and we hope to enjoy some success with them as well.

Misty morning in Italy, 2013 World Masters Games

Misty morning in Italy, 2013 World Masters Games

So – that’s the skinny on CPR.  Please log in and check in regularly to see what we are up to.  Visit the Athletes Profile page and send us your information if you would like to race with us.  We will post access to training plans that will keep us all working together despite the miles that separate us, as we prepare for regattas.   Join twitter and instagram and Facebook, so we can stay in touch.

Remember, we are only as good as the sum of our parts.    Let’s keep all the parts up and running, healthy, strong and happy – our individual commitment to our own fitness combines to create a fit, united rowing team!

Stay connected

The Crew at CPR

Founding Members:  Deborah Davis, Nancy Dynan, Merida Scully & Lesleh Anderson