On a cold, windy St. Patrick’s Day, the Village Community Boathouse sent two crews to represent to the 39th Annual Snow Row in Hull,Massachusetts. Snow Row is the Hull Lifesaving Museum’s signature race, featuring 3.75 miles of open water rowing and scenic
views. VCB sent an adult coxed four and a youth coxed four crew to brave the elements, and that they did.
Facing 18 mph winds with gusts over 30 mph, row organizers shortened the race course and eliminated several categories due to safety concerns. With canoes, kayaks, surfskis, and single rower craft stuck ashore, pilot gigs, Whitehall gigs, and livery and work boat doubles took to the seas. With winds making the traditional Le Mans-style running start a risky proposition, the participants prepared for a floating start. Even this precaution did not preclude traffic jams as boats jostled for position. After a minor collision with an overly ambitious pilot gig, our crews were off!
These were undoubtedly the roughest conditions any of us had ever rowed in. We set out against a headwind determined to push us backwards, and any forward progress was an accomplishment. Two foot seas crashed against our bows, sending bits of ice floes into our gigs. After rowing hard and not making much forward progress, our youth crew made the difficult
decision to turn around and return to the shore. It was nonetheless a valiant effort, as they were the only youth crew in the fixed seat coxed fours category who dared leave the beach. And theirs was not the only craft that decided to turn around or was instructed to do so by the rescue craft keeping a watchful eye on the race.VCB’s adult crew, through a combination of experience and stubbornness, continued to push onward into the gale force gusts. The first few waves came as a surprise, but as we approached the turning point of the course, there was nary a dry rower aboard. Perhaps motivated by the promise of warm shelter and a respite from the waves, our adult crew soldiered on to the midway marker and executed a harrowing turn, assisted by the elements.
With the wind at our backs, we made speedy return progress towards the beach and finished the two mile course in a time of 48:45, the fastest time in the adult fixed seat coxed fours category. Another race, another successful journey – especially now that we’ve finally warmed up!