Cranbrook-based Rockies Rowing Club rowers attended the Head of the Pend Oreille regatta recently and came home with bling. The one day regatta was held on the Priest River in Priest River

Rockies Rowers rock the regatta

Cranbrook-based Rockies Rowing Club rowers attended the Head of the Pend Oreille regatta recently and came home with bling.

For the Townsman

Cranbrook-based Rockies Rowing Club rowers attended the Head of the Pend Oreille regatta recently and came home with bling. The one day regatta was held on the Priest River in Priest River, Idaho, on a beautiful sunny day. The regatta organisers moved the races from the Pend Oreille River to the Priest River as the water was too rough on the larger river.

The rowing course on the Priest River was more challenging with bends and bridges and offered a great view of racing for spectators.

A head race is rowed in flights and there were five flights that day. A boat starts rowing and when they pass the start line they are on the clock. One minute later the next boat starts and a minute later the next boat starts. The boats are racing against each other and against time. A boat that starts later is permitted to pass the boat ahead of them if they are fast enough and the conditions permit.

The first flight included Rockies Rowing Junior Women’s double (two rowers, two oars each) of Katie Clark and Kristen Wilson. They rowed the course in eight minutes, 10 seconds.  The second flight included our Men’s double of James Ebsworth and Jared Adams and our Women’s Quad (four rowers, two oars each) comprised of Beth Anderson, Emily Sartorel, Sally Ruoss (first rowing race) and Roberta Rodgers (in the quad our youngest rower is 13 and oldest 61). The double finished in a time of 8:16 which was better than the other men’s double in the flight and the quad finished in a time of 8:24. These boats although in the same flight are in different boat categories for awards.

Pictured: The 8+ out of the Priest River

Most notable was the opportunity for our Junior rowers Katie, Kristen, Emily, Sally and Jared to learn how to sweep row (one rower, one longer oar) in an 8+ (same type of boat Ben Rutledge rowed in at the 2008 Olympics and won a Gold medal with his crew).

Our rowers have been learning to scull (moving the boat with two smaller oars, one in each hand) so they jumped at this chance to expand their knowledge and try sweep rowing. On Friday evening they were taken out in the 8+ by a coxswain (steers the boats and gives commands) and a couple of other rowers who knew how to sweep row. The boat went out twice so that all five rowers had a chance to experience the boat and know how to grip the oar and pull it through the water and what it was like to row with seven other people in the boat.

Come Saturday in the fifth flight, the “International Crew” with rowers from the United States, Canada and Great Britain were on the water heading up to the start of the race. The rowers from bow were Sally Ruoss, Emily Sartorel, Jared Adams, Kristen Wilson, Nisa Papineau (Coeur d’Alene Rowing), Katie Clark, Quinn Barnwell (Priest River Rowing) and James Ebsworth in stroke. The coxswain was Parry Ragland formerly of Michigan Tech.

Parry led the crew to the start and encouraged them all the way down the course including passing another 8+ during the race. The parents of our rowers were on the bridge over the river cheering on the boat as it rounded the bend and passed the other 8+.

The crew looked impressive especially if you know that this was their first ever race in an 8+. The 8+ finished the race in 7:03 (best time of the regatta) and the next boat finished in 8:20 and the final boat in 9:44.

All in all it was a successful weekend to top off a superb season on the water. Club members were out practising regularly, coaches offered learn to row lessons and competitors were attending regattas.

Vernon was the debut for some of our rowers. At this regatta our coach Kurt Mohr partnered with a rower from another club to post the second fastest time on the three km course. In Calgary, as noted previously, our games rowers and other rowers came away with some good race experience but no medals. Nelson was a different story.

All five rowers who attended Nelson came home with either first place medals or second place ribbons. The crew of Katie and Kristen won their doubles race at the Nelson regatta as well. Their record this year was a win win.

Thanks to parents and volunteer coaches for their support of the rowers and thanks to the rowers for their enthusiasm and dedication to this unique sport. A special thanks to Brian Passey who has kept the club afloat by keeping our boats in good repair and making a concerted effort to help raise funds so we could purchase a second hand quad scull and oars and for the possibility of building our own trailer as the results of the monies raised.

Rowing Canada has been a great support this year loaning us a trailer and three boats so we could increase our capacity. If anyone wants to learn to row in spring 2017  please send an email to and offer a contact so we can let you know when we are on the water for lessons. We are still looking for youth (age 13 or 14) who would like to learn to row and try out for the BC Summer Games 2018 Zone 1 Crew. We will be on Jimsmith Lake through October if you want to view this sport in real time.

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