2022 VCB Youth Race

Crews from all three participating organizations — Rocking the Boat (RTB), Urban Assembly Harbor School, and Village Community Boathouse (VCB) — take to the water.

After the remnants of Hurricane Nicole roared through the region, bringing gale warnings and high winds, the Village Community Boathouse’s Youth Race was pushed back a day to Sunday, November 13, 2022. An annual celebration of high school crews from New York City and the northeast, the VCB youth race is a free invitational designed to maximize the number of youth rowers that are able to test their skills at the end of the rowing season.

This year, three open water rowing organizations, all hailing from New York City, participated in the contest to crown the best high school crews in the Big Apple. Rocking the Boat sent one novice crew, Knot Today. Urban Assembly Harbor School sent two novice crews (Pier Pressure and Chloe & the Four Dwarves) and two seasoned crews (Oops All Bows and Bulkheads). Village Community Boathouse sent one novice crew (Sea-Men) and two seasoned crews (Wet Sox and Bay-Gulls the Second). Rowers eligible to participate in the novice category started rowing in or after September 2021.

The VCB Youth Race follows its traditional three part format designed to test the abilities of each crew and coxswain. The first part of the race is the timed basin laps, comprised of three timed laps around the embayment south of Pier 40. The slowest time is dropped and the two remaining times averaged. The seasoned crews were separated by the narrowest of margins, finishing in order: Harbor School’s Bulkheads (3:26.5), VCB’s Wet Sox (3:27), Harbor School’s Oops All Bows (3:43.5), and VCB’s Bay-Gulls the Second (3:46.5). Equally exciting were the novice time trials, with two crews registering identical times: VCB’s Sea-Men (3:52.5), Harbor School’s Pier Pressure (4:14.5), Harbor School’s Chloe & The Four Dwarves (4:14.5), and RTB’s Knot Today (4:27).

VCB’s Bay-Gulls the Second and Harbor School’s Bulkheads jockey for position during the seasoned crews’ Nautical Mile.

The second event of VCB’s Youth Race is the Nautical Mile River Race. Designed to test each crew’s endurance and pacing over a longer distance, performance in this portion is helped by each coxswain’s understanding of how the Hudson River’s currents affect the boat. (Currents are generally stronger further out into the channel and each pier creates its own mini eddy of current.) Crews rowed south to VCB’s chase boat, positioned as a race marker off the tip of Pier 26, made a port turn, then returned to the start line in the middle of the basin south of the Boathouse. The seasoned crews again saw little separation between two crews: Bulkheads (11:42), Wet Sox (12:14), Oops All Bows (12:15), and Bay-Gulls the Second (13:36). The novice crews finished in order: Pier Pressure (12:46), Sea-Men (13:08), Chloe & the Four Dwarves (16:34), and Knot Today (18:29).

RTB’s Knot Today, VCB’s Sea-Men, and Harbor School’s Chloe & the Four Dwarves line up to await the starter’s signal in the novice Head to Head sprint.

The third and final event of the VCB Youth Race is the head to head sprints. Seasoned and novice crews each take a turn on the water, lined up alongside the entirety of their competition for a frenzied sprint along the length of Pier 40. Stopwatches are tossed aside as the judges take their positions at the finish line, eyes peeled to see who breaks the plane first. After last year’s photo finish, slow motion video capture was on hand in case we needed to review the finish frame by frame again. After about a minute and a half of dozens of oars splashing furiously, the weary crews end their days triumphantly. Seasoned: Wet Sox, Bulkheads, Oops All Bows, and Bay-Gulls the Second. Novice: Sea-Men, Pier Pressure, Knot Today, and Chloe & the Four Dwarves.

Individual event winners are known to all, but points are awarded in reverse finish order and tabulated to determine overall winners for the day. Harbor School’s Bulkheads won the seasoned category with a total of 11 points. Close on their keels were VCB’s Wet Sox (10 points), Harbor School’s Oops All Bows (6 points), and VCB’s Bay-Gulls the Second (3 points). VCB’s Sea-Men finished first in the novice category with 11 points. They were followed by Harbor School’s Pier Pressure (9.5 points), Harbor School’s Chloe & the Four Dwarves (5.5 points), and RTB’s Knot Today (4 points).

A Huge Thank You to all participants, coaches, and volunteers! Special thanks to Michael for entertaining spectators and keeping crews informed, Marcel for serving as dockmaster, Frank and Sally for feeding the hungry masses, and all of our timekeepers and judges without whom this would just have been four gigs jockeying for position and getting in each other’s ways. We’ll see everyone back down at Pier 40 next November for another iteration of our Youth Race!

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