VCB at Head of the Weir

By Andrew Leung

Golden Clamshell Winners
Stone Su, Nafel Khan, Francesco Siniscalco, Andy Lin, Brian Chen, Ka Ming Wong, Andrew Leung, Dave Clayton, Frank Cervi, Don Betts

On Saturday, October 26, the Village Community Boathouse sent race crews to Hull to participate in Head of the Weir. The race is a five and a half-mile open water course starting at the head of the Weir River, traversing Hingham Bay, and ending at Windmill Point. Conditions were particularly favorable for a row that morning, as minimal wind and temperatures in the low 60s made the race feel more like a leisure cruise to take in the changing foliage
VCB sent youth and adult crews to Hull. This was the inaugural race for this youth crew since our dominant crew from last year’s race circuit graduated in May. Rowing Lady Moody, a coxed four stretch dory similar to our Warrior, VCB’s youth crew finished second in their category, behind only the professional team from Sound School. A great showing from our amateur crew that would have earned them medals in prior years!
VCB’s adult crew was a work in progress that was only assembled in the eleventh hour. Two rowers and a coxswain made the journey up to Hull, where we joined forces with Don Betts, who generously provided the boat for our youth crew to row. Still short a rower going into the coxswains meeting half an hour before the race start, we were prepared to row a short-handed coxed three in Rescue One, a Whitehall gig loaned to us for the race by our generous hosts. A Sound School student joined our ranks and pushed us into the mixed youth/adult category, which proved to be a fortuitous change. VCB’s medley of a mixed crew finished first in that category and brought home more hardware for our trophy case.
A good race was had by all! Thanks go out to Don Betts and the Hull Lifesaving Museum for providing boats, and to Sound School for rounding out our mixed crew. Come to Pier 40 on Saturday, November 9 to see our youth crew in action during VCB’s annual youth race!

Adult Crew Pulling Hard
Youth Crew Getting Some Pointers
VCB Youth Crew in Rowing Lady Moody at the Start of the Race
VCB Adult Crew Pulling Over the Finishline at Windmill Point


21 Coxed 4 – Youth Sound School 1st Constitution 0:56:51
13 Coxed 4 – Youth Village Community Boathouse Lady Moody 1:05:05
22 Coxed 4 – Youth LCMM – Rice Memorial HS Ropa 1:11:22
15 Coxed 4 – Mixed Y/A Village Community Boathouse Rescue One 1:16:06
18 Coxed 4 – Adult Cape Cod TSCA Alex McDougall 0:51:55
17 Coxed 4 – Adult Avengers Mighty Herring 0:52:17
20 Coxed 4 – Adult Sound Alumni Joda Jane 0:56:26
12 Coxed 4 – Adult LCMM Adults American Shad 0:58:37
11 Coxed 4 – Adult Dharma Voyage Mariner’s Endeavor 1:00:40
16 Coxed 4 – Adult Ledyard Rowin’ Mike Davis 1:21:45
14 Coxed 4 – Adult Ledyard Rowin’

VCB at Gloucester Harbor Race

BY Andrew Leung

VCB Crew: David Palsgrove, Dave Clayton, Jackie Chen, Andrew Leung, Melina Tsai,
Ka Ming Wong, Annette Grimes

On September 14, a race crew from VCB journeyed to Gloucester, MA to explore uncharted territory and compete in the Gloucester Harbor Race, a three and a half-mile open water event. While this was the eleventh iteration of the race, it is the first time VCB has sent a crew, and it would prove to be a learning experience for us.

Competitors in this race row in six oared pilot gigs, a notable departure from the four-oared Whitehalls based in Pier 40. These traditionally built boats feature solid wood planking and solid wood oars, totaling to a craft more than double the weight of our sturdy Whitehalls. Fortunately, we had a brief practice session in King Tide — our own lapstrake plank Cornish pilot gig — to give us an idea of what to expect.

Two groups of VCB rowers arrived in Gloucester Friday afternoon and evening and were welcomed into the home of our Gloucester Gig Rower (GGR) host. Situated within walking distance of Plum Cove Beach, we were advised that this was a popular spot to view sunset, and indeed it was!
On Saturday morning, the crew woke early to help GGR taxi their gigs from their pier to the race site at Niles Beach. Under the watchful eye of a GGR coxswain, we followed the long-stroke ideal for pilot gigs, but unfamiliar to us in Whitehalls. After this welcome practice row, there was race strategy to be discussed.

Fortunately, we were assigned to the third heat, so we were able to watch the first two groups launch. One of our rowers was a former GGR and recruited one of their racing coaches to give us a few pointers. After some deliberation and spirited discussion, we decided to adopt a stoke pace that was a compromise of our familiar Whitehall stroke and the new pilot gig stroke we had just learned.

When our turn to race came, we were assigned to the Annie B., a beautiful blue and orange pilot gig named after the founder of GGR. The race featured an on-water start, so we boarded our craft and eagerly waited for the starter’s pistol to sound and send us on our way. The wind was considerable and all boats in this heat rowed to stay in place, lest one of us prematurely cross the starting line and force a reset.

After the pistol sounded, we rowed southwest hard into a headwind, alongside another gig and with one chasing our tail. There wasn’t much separation in the pack as we raced towards the Dog Bar, a view tower at the end of a jetty protecting Gloucester Harbor from the pounding waves of the Atlantic. The two sharp turns in front of Dog Bar broke apart the pack, as none of the coxswains wanted to come into contact with the racecourse markers and take a time penalty. We slowed to take the turns single file and ended up as the second boat of three.

With about one-third of the racecourse behind us, we finally had the wind at our backs. How were we doing on time? None of us could tell you. Time has a habit of ceasing to exist during races, lost in the consistent stroke and words of encouragement shouted by the coxswain.

The final boat behind us on the course crept closer as we both stroked on towards Ten Pound Island. Our cox decided it was time to push for some separation before we went into the last turn north of this island to avoid being stuck on the outside of two turning gigs there. “Power ten!” he shouted. Then twenty. Then thirty. After we reached forty, one of our crew shouted “Unlimited power!” and was met with laughter from the crew. This plan worked, and we were able to reach the turn first and maintain the lead to the finish line.

Overall, VCB finished third in the men’s category and brought home a new medal for the trophy case. Not bad for fifteen minutes of practice. One might even say we did well, considering that our GGR coach told us it could take up to a year for new rowers to perfect the longer pilot gig stroke.

Snow Row 2019

VCB High School Rowing Crew – Winners of the Golden Clamshells
Sophia Day, Mark Winter, Yoshio Ohno, Ciaran Diep, Lucien Eckert

It was a beautiful day on Saturday, March 9th for the 40th annual Snow Row in Hull, Mass. sponsored by The Hull Lifesaving Museum. VCB sent two crews – one youth and one adult rowing Pete Seeger and David Thorleif Heim (DTH), the new cedar-strip built gig. DTH, fresh out of the shop, suffered a few dings and scratches in her nearly perfect hull trailering and racing.

The VCB High School Rowing Crew in Pete Seeger came in first in their class – Youth Coxed-4 Pro. The pro category is distinguished from amateur by having practiced rowing together at least once. The adult crew did not do as well. However, DTH finished the race relatively unscathed which is noteworthy because of the LeMans-style start of the Snow Row – Rowers must run down to bow-on-the-beach boats, launch and then do a 180-degree turn to start. Lots of opportunities for collisions. The best part is the incredible array of wooden rowing craft. VCB’s DTH got lots of attention.

Towing Crew with Stacked Gigs Ready To Leave Pier 40
Crews Enjoying Breakfast at the Olympia Diner in Braintree Before the Race
Youth Crew in Pete Seeger
Adult Crew in DTH
Andrew Leung Jackie Chen, Marcel Dejean, Frank Cervi, and Dave Clayton
DTH and Pete Back Home in the Pier 40 Boathouse

Special Thanks to Frank Cervi for driving and Jackie Chen for chaperoning.

Icebreaker 2018


Ka Ming Wong

The Icebreaker Northeast Regional Youth Open Water Rowing Championships was held in Boston on Novemer 17th, where VCB was represented by a plucky Youth Fours crew consisting of coxwain Sophia Day, and rowers Jacky Chen, Ciaran Diep, Lucien Eckert, Yoshiya Ohno, and Mark Winter, all of whom had the grit and motivation to catch a 2:45AM bus to a race on the same day which is impressive all on its own.
Congratulations to the crew, who really rowed their hearts out that day, thanks to the HLM for putting together such an awesome event, and last but not least thank you to the VCB community for making it possible for us to send our rowers to a very memorable day!

Head of the Weir 2018

VCB’s Youth Coxed-4 crew won Head of the Weir River race in their category, finishing in 41minutes, 22 seconds, beating Sound School by 35 seconds.  The VCB HIgh School Rowing crew, coxed by Sophia Day rowed Gold Rush, a stretch gunning dory built by high school students and community volunteers at VCB’s Community Boatbuilding Program. The adult crew, coxed by Dave Clayton rowed Warrior to the finish in 40 minutes, 48 seconds – 48 seconds behind the Fiona in first place. The VCB adult crew’s time was actually more than a minute faster than the VCB high school crew. However, the Golden Clam Shells went to the kids.

Because of high sustained winds with 30 mph gusts the 5.5-mile race course was shortened to avoid the open waters of Hull Bay. The rowers stayed in the relatively protected waters of the estuary finishing at the marina in Hull. 

VCB Cox-4 Youth Crew: Sophia Day, Mark Winter, Ciaran Diep, Lucien Eckert, and Yoshi Ohno. 

VCB Coxed-4 Adult Crew: Dave Clayton, Marcel DeJean, Ka Ming Wong, Cillian Hogan, and Andrew Leung.

IMG_0856 IMG_0840.TRIM


Photos by Ran Bi and Sally Curtis