Rowing: High winds, cancelled regattas create uncertainty as championships approach


Yorktown’s freshman eight heads back to the docks as high winds cancelled Saturday’s Charlie Butt Regatta on the Potomac River. (Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)
April 30, 2014

At this point in the spring rowing season, St. Albans would typically have competed in four regattas. But the unpredictable weather over the past two months has allowed Ted Haley’s team to complete just two full races. Now, less than two weeks away from the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Championships, the Bulldogs and teams around the area are dealing with inexperienced boats and plenty of uncertainty heading into championship season.

Unusually high snowfall totals and a recent rash of heavy rains have ravaged schedules for the majority of area spring sports teams. For rowers, the wind has been most crippling. Two Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association regattas were canceled before the final heats could be completed due to wind. At last Saturday’s Charlie Butt Regatta on the Potomac River, constant 22-knot winds with 29-knot gusts forced 28 boats to come back to dock before racing.

“It’s been a tough year as far as weather goes,” Haley said. “It’s really put a cramp in our racing schedule,” said Haley.

Practices have also been affected. Many teams haven’t been able to consistently get on the water, forcing them to train on indoor equipment instead.

“Getting in a boat and actually rowing is the bread and butter of what we do,” Haley said, “and this has been one of the more challenging years I’ve had in a long time just getting on the water.”

As a result, with only one regatta left before the May 10 Virginia championships, the field of competitors remains murky. With limited racing results, teams are uncertain as to where they stand among competitors.

“There’s a little bit more mystery than there usually is at this point of the year,” Haley said.

Determining seeds for the regatta is also proving difficult. Coaches have been filling out weekly seeding reports, but with such a small sample size of results, the reports aren’t necessarily as accurate as they have been in the past, particularly with the lower boats.

“They’re usually the crews that don’t get the race time when there’s a wind or weather issue.” Yorktown Coach Steve Cauffman said. “So they’re the ones who are probably affected the most.”

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