Special to the Reporter
Sammamish Rowing Association (SRA) recently took the east coast by storm at the 53rd annual Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) with course records and two gold-medal finishes. The world’s largest two-day rowing event drew more than 10,000 competitors to blue skies and blazing-fast conditions. Redmond-based SRA — which draws rowers from all over the Eastside — had six crews racing at the 2017 regatta, which took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Sammamish men’s masters fours dominated the internationally competitive race and brought home gold medals from the Men’s Grand Master Fours (60-plus) and Men’s Master Fours (40-plus) events — the first Head of the Charles championship ever for SRA. The grand master crew with coxswain and SRA alumnus Kate Grimaldi, Scott Merritt, Kevin Hansen, Mark Norelius and Marc McGinnis set a course record of 18:04.515, beating the previous record by nearly 10 seconds.
In the master fours race, the crew with coxswain and SRA alumnus Lia Roberds, Jonathan Kallay, William Senenko, Tyler Simpson and Andrew Lynch bet the previous course record by just over two seconds and finished over 30 seconds ahead of second place Zwolsche from the Netherlands with a time of 16:59.544.
“I was very pleased with the results,” said coach Tom Woodman. “It was a huge accomplishment for SRA to win its first ever gold medal, and to do that in two events was outstanding. We have been trying for many years to find that level of success at the HOCR and it was nice to finally achieve that goal. The depth of this team is amazing — the way they push each other, fill holes when people were absent, and form competitive boats to do pieces against the HOCR group was critical to our success.”
The Women’s Senior Master Fours (50-plus) and Men’s Senior Master Eights (50-plus) also finished strong, placing ninth out of 46 women’s fours and 11th out of 57 master eights.
In the Women’s Senior Master Eights (50-plus) event, Sammamish finished in sixth place with a time of 18:26.33 and less than five seconds separating second through sixth place.
“The crew had a stellar performance at HOCR,” said coach Molly Lawrence. “We have been working very hard in preparation for the regatta and the ladies stepped up and put down their fastest time yet. We are excited to build off this momentum and come back stronger and tougher next fall.”
For the final event of the weekend, Sammamish raced in the Directors’ Challenge Mixed Eight for the second consecutive year. The crew finished 13th out of 40 amongst a deep field of national and international competitors.
“This year’s weather and calm conditions made for a lot of new course records,” said coach Lee Henderson. “The Directors’ Challenge Mixed Eight laid down their best race of the season and really rowed well, maintaining an average split we’ve been working towards. It’s been a great journey with lots of preparation and a very solid result to show for it against some of the best in the world.”
For more on Sammamish Rowing, follow the team on Facebook and Instagram (@sammamishrowing).