By Deborah Clearman
On a sunny and cold Saturday, Village Community Boathouse hosted its annual Youth Race at Pier 40. With 80 participants, this was our largest race to date. Teenagers came from four different rowing clubs: Stuyvesant High School and NY Harbor School, both in New York City; the Sound School of New Haven, Connecticut; and Cortlandt Community Rowing in Westchester County. The Cortlandt kids were at a disadvantage because they normally row shells on quiet water and were unaccustomed to Whitehall gigs. Nonetheless, they performed well, and all the groups walked away with some prizes. In the words of announcer Michael Anton, “There are no losers today.”
The format of the races, organized this year by David Palsgrove, differed somewhat from previous years. All 16 crews competed in the first race: two consecutive timed loops around the perimeter of the embayment. The top score in each category—male, female, and mixed—were selected to go on to the final river race without competing in the sprint tournament. Top scores in the perimeter loop went to the Cortlandt Big Boys (male), Harbor School’s Kiss my Aft (female), and Sound School’s Kiss my Stern (mixed).
Fifteen crews competed in the next event, the sprint tournament. This consisted of three heats. In the first heat four groups raced from a standing start and the first two across the finish line in each group moved to the second heat. In the second heat two groups raced and again the first two in each group across the finish line moved to the third heat. The third heat consisted of four crews. They raced to determine their place in the tournament. They crossed the finish in this order: first prize to Harbor School’s Harbor Lambs; second to Stuyvesant’s Swordfish; third to Harbor School’s Marvelous Day; fourth to Sound School’s Golden Age. All four crews went on to the final river race. The first-place winner was given a 10-second bonus in the river race.
The river race started in the embayment, left it to head north against the ebb tide, to a turn boat stationed approximately a half-mile north of Pier 40, and returned to cross the finish line inside the embayment. Seven crews participated in this timed race with a staggered start. There was a last-minute substitution because one of the winning crews from the first event (the perimeter loop) had left early. So Sound School substituted its female crew, the Bombshells. Winners of the river race were: first place Harbor School’s Harbor Lambs, second place Cortlandt’s Big Boys, third place Sound School’s Golden Age.
Coaches, parents, and VCB volunteers crowded the south walkway and cheered on the teams. We estimate that 160 attended the races, including the participants. Frank Cervi provided breakfast coffee and bagels. Dave Clayton had prepared number flags, and the arriving crews were invited to individualize their flags with markers. At the end of the day, they would take their flags home. Sally Curtis and Ruth Lindner had loaded up Sally’s large SUV with hot dogs, burgers, rolls, snacks, etc. the day before. Soup and salad contributions rolled in. Lorne Swarthout manned the barbecue grill with help from Bob and Dave (we think from Sound School). Paul Caviano set up the scoreboard and kept the score brilliantly. Michael Anton provided his ever-witty announcements. Deborah Clearman organized the timekeepers: herself, Ruth Lindner, Lee Berman, and Derek Wollenstein. This year we had two timekeepers per boat, to guard against stopwatch failure and human error. For the river race, we asked for volunteers to provide 14 timekeepers. Seth Rivera, Pablo Garcia, and Kristina Allocco acted as line handlers, helping crews in and out of boats at the floating dock.
On the water, Harbor School’s Rick Lee and his wife Amy Rose Knudson provided a chase and photographer’s boat. Sally Curtis took photos. Seth Rivera, Dave Clayton, and Sound school’s Bob Lazara operated VCB’s RIB as a turn marker. Special thanks to Ingo Gunther for chase boat support and race course map.
Coaches had their hands full organizing and supporting their teams and lending a hand where needed: Sound School’s Neil Geist, Harbor School’s Roy Arezzo, Stuyvesant’s Ka Ming Wong, and Cortland Rowing’s whose name we didn’t get, but she was very busy.
Huge thanks go to all who made this a great day on the water. Kudos to race organizer David Palsgrove and harbormaster Marcel Dejean. Congratulations to all the racers who put their hearts and oars into the race.