On a brisk autumn weekend, a racing contingent from the Village Community Boathouse made its annual fall journey to Hull, Massachusetts to participate in the Hull Lifesaving Museum’s Head of the Weir River Race. The race course is a spectacular five and a half mile stretch that takes participants from the head of the Weir River, under a bridge lined by cheering spectators, through Hingham Bay, and finally to the finish line marked by the pier at HLM’s Pemberton Point boathouse.
A last minute change to the race course, made amid concerns of erosion caused by crews walking on the boggy marsh, shortened the race by a quarter mile. All participating craft queued up to await the horn that signaled the start of each boat’s time. Rowers were sent off in the traditional order: singles, doubles, coxed fours, then the behemoth pilot gigs that would attempt the chase down the field.
This year’s youth crew comprised of a mix of familiar faces and first time racers. Coxed by Youth Rowing Coordinator Mary Harvey, who started rowing in VCB’s youth program pre-COVID, the youth crew placed first in their category with an enviable time of 1:01:06. So skilled was this crew, not even the adult coxed four crews were able to catch up!
With short notice leading to a limited number of rowers available, VCB’s adult crew became an amalgam of rowers from New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. This hodgepodge performed admirably, finishing with a time of 57:35, which landed the crew in the middle of the pack — the fleet of pilot gigs finished with times ranging from 51:59 to 1:45:52 — not bad for a group that hadn’t met each other until the day of the race!
Gratitude to Don Betts for lending VCB the use of his boats for this race. Image credit Sean Baggett Photography.