VCB Youth Race 2021

Photography by Sally Curtis

Videography by Ingo Günther

On Saturday, November 20th, the Village Community Boathouse held its annual youth race, a free invitational for youth rowers of all ability levels. This year saw seven crews of varied experience levels gather at Pier 40 for the festivities and a bit of friendly competition. Governors Island’s Harbor School fielded two seasoned teams and two novice teams. VCB’s youth rowers, hailing from high schools throughout New York City, formed three teams, one seasoned and two novice. This year’s race consisted of three stages, each designed to test the crews’ mettle in different facets of open water rowing.

Stage one of the race was the basin laps time trials; each crew took three timed laps around the embayment south of Pier 40. The worst time was dropped, and the crews best times averaged and compared to the other crews in their category. The average lap times of the novice crews is as follows Bay-Gulls (3:47), The Tainos (3:51.5), Goose (4:11.5), Dry Sox (4:21.5). The average lap times of the seasoned crews was The Seamen (3:10.5), Kiss My Pink Aft (3:36), Wet Sox (3:41.5).

Stage two of the race was the river race. A race course on the mighty Hudson was carefully measured and marked — each crew would complete a nautical mile, leaving the embayment to a marker north of Pier 46, then speeding back home. Crews were sent out in one minute intervals in a head of the river format. The novice crews departed first, and this race proved to be exciting with crews jockeying for position northbound and a lead change at the turn marker! The novices crews returned home as follows Bay-Gulls (14:59), The Tainos (16:01), Dry Sox (16:46), Goose (18:07). With the novice boats back and the ebb even stronger, it was time for the seasoned crews to test their long course endurance. This iteration of the nautical mile saw no lead changes but was equally exciting for the beautifully synchronization in each gig. The seasoned rowers put up the following times: The Seamen (12:20), Wet Sox (14:12), Kiss My Pink Aft (14:33).

The third and final stage saw stopwatches tossed aside as we relied on a more primitive technology: our eyes! Stage three was a hard sprint across the Pier 40 embayment. Although this was the shortest distance, all rowers realized they’d have to row harder than every. Judges from each rowing program waited at the finish line, marked by a Jolly Roger lashed to the northern fence. An airhorn sounded the start of each heat before oars furiously churned a mist of Hudson water into the air!

The novice basin sprint brought looks of surprise and confusion to the faces of the audience and judges alike, with the lead boat stopping short of the marker. When the air cleared, the order that novice crews crossed the finish line was The Tainos, Goose, Dry Sox, and Bay-Gulls. The seasoned crews took to the water next, now made more aware of the placement of the finish line than their novice counterparts. The Seamen crossed the finish line first, but the second and third place boats were separated by mere inches. Video review confirmed that only the stem of the Wet Sox gig crossed the finish line before Kiss My Pink Aft caught up!

Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers the event was a resounding success. Facing the prospect of a forced cancelation and with mere days to plan and execute this event, VCB’s membership rallied together to ensure that the months of training were not for naught. Thanks to Phil Yee for his expertise and guidance throughout the day; to Ingo for laying out all course markers and serving as our safety boat; Frank, Sally, and Melissa and Regine for feeding our hungry crews and spectators; Michael Anton for handling MC duties; Marcel for working on race logistics and the hand out; Frank and Henry for setting up the PA system; Dave and Harbor alumni for line handling and receiving crews at the floating dock; and Ruth, Lorne, Barbara, Eric, Phil, Mary Nell, Pablo, Sean, Regine, and Harbor and VCB parents for serving as time keepers!

Dozens of rowers, many first time racers, were able to get on the water and test their ability against unfamiliar crews. Perhaps their appetite for competition was whetted and we’ll see some familiar faces at next years races?

The Crews:


Head of the Weir River Race 2021

After scuttled plans for Snow Row 2020 amid a rowing season lost to COVID, the Hull Lifesaving Museum hosted their 35th annual Head of the Weir River Race on November 6, 2021. The race course was set, the medals painted, and the goodie bags equipped with a reusable HLM cloth face mask — the only question was whether race participants would return to Hull after skipped season.

And return they did! Nearly four dozen boats containing over a hundred of the finest open water rowers from New England and the Atlantic Northeast gathered at the start line on an unexpectedly warm morning. Surrounded by the changing foliage, boats jockeyed for position in this “head of the river” start format. A horn sounded every thirty seconds to start the timer for each boat and signal its departure.

Once free of the starting scrum, participants navigated through the marsh, flooded by an uncharacteristically high tide. Several enterprising boats with shallow drafts took advantage of this newfound “waterway” and carved new tangents around the race course. Once through the marsh and under the George Washington Boulevard Bridge, rowers navigated across world’s end and into the three mile stretch of open water to the finish line where waving spectators waited to greet tired crews.

Rowers from the Village Community Boathouse were eager to race again and test their ability against the region’s best crews. Traditionally, VCB sends a youth crew and an adult crew to races in which it participates. Mindful of our youth rowers who missed their senior racing season last year, we decided to forego an adult crew and instead create a mixed youth/adult crew to accompany our youth crew to Hull.

Racing in Warrior, a coxed four stretch gunning dory, VCB’s relatively inexperienced youth crew performed admirably and won their category with a time of fifty-seven minutes and fifty seconds. Head of the Weir was the first race for all but one of the youth rowers, making this victory all the more impressive. With most members of the crew eligible to return next season, the future of VCB youth rowing looks bright!

Racing in Pete Seeger, a Whitehall gig built in house by VCB volunteers, the mixed youth/adult crew overcame a rocky start to finish the race in fifty-four minutes and twenty-two seconds. This time was the fastest in the mixed coxed four fixed seat category and earned the crew their golden clamshells. So impressive was this time that it was second overall in the entire coxed four, sweep oar, fixed seat class, registering a mere twelve seconds behind the first place finisher.

After the race, with the youth on their way home, the few participants who remained on the beach at Pemberton Point were treated to an exquisite sunset. We all look forward to making the trek back for the Hull Lifesaving Museum’s Snow Row early next year!