A Free Radical at Sarasota Invitational
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I love seeing all the teams from all over the nation. For some, it’s their first time on the water all season—like Malvern Prep, who raced a Boys’ 4x, and Potomac Boat Club from D.C.!
There are great stories that accompany all large regattas, like a Pensacola Men’s 2x made of Marines, the adaptive competitors from Miami, and the self-titled “Ancient Mariners” Men’s Masters 4x averaging 73 years old—including Jay Bushell, who celebrated birthday number 82 by racing.
With so much going on and so much to see, it’s a challenge to take it all in. I have the unique volunteer position of “free radical” meaning I go wherever the regatta director needs me. I see the whole regatta, literally from the start line to the finish line, and I know firsthand running a regatta is no small feat. We are blessed with volunteers who step up to run the referee launches, serve as stake boat holders, run parking, timing, and more. It’s especially challenging when the weather doesn’t cooperate, like on Saturday for the junior’s races. The increasing winds caused a delay in afternoon racing. Fortunately all events were run and made it down the course, but in between I was shuffling cold, wet stake boat holders back to the dry hospitality tent.
On the flip side, I was able to drive a golf cart down the wave attenuator. It was so much fun—and I had unique view of the racecourse not many get to see. If you heard someone cheering from the 250 meter mark, it might have been me!
Our local Sarasota Clubs fared well on both days. Fighting through the wind, the young women from Sarasota Scullers Youth Rowing won the Girls’ Freshman 8+ and the Girls’ 2x, while taking silver in the Girls’ 4x and Girls 2-. Unfortunately, the full juniors’ results aren’t complete yet, but I know the Boys’ HS 4x earned a bronze medal.
The masters had sunshine and calm for their Sunday races, leading Sarasota Crew’s masters to win the Diamond Vault Cup in the Women’s Masters 2x, rowed by former Olympian and Barry University Coach Lindsay Shoop. Sarasota Crew also saw gold in the Men’s Masters 1x, Women’s Masters 2x (DVC), Women’s Masters 4x, and Mixed Masters’ 8+, a boat comprised of their coaches including Head Coach Casey Galvanek. The host club, Sarasota County Rowing Club, entered a wide field of successful boats. The Women’s Masters 4x won gold in flight 3, the “Grand” 8+ rowed a tight race to silver, and single sculler John Cowan placed 3rd in the Men’s Masters 1x flight 2.
Just 363 days until next year’s event. I can’t wait!