Last night, November 17, a crowd packed into Wing Point Golf Club for the Bainbridge Island Rowing 2017 dinner and auction and to dream big about the future of rowing on Bainbridge Island. The attendees, who spanned some 70 or 80 years in age, included juniors and masters rowers, former rowers, spouses and children and grandparents of rowers, and fans of the sport. The junior rowers were there as volunteers to help out with the event.
People gathered in the silent auction room to ogle enticing gift packages that ranged from a wheelbarrow of beer to a regatta-watcher supplies basket. They also gathered before the awe-inspiring collection of photos and memorabilia of rowers from the early part of the last century, all of whom had some connection to Bainbridge Island, including Stan Pocock, the son of legendary boatbuilder George Pocock and the coach of eight different crews that went to the Olympics between 1956 and 1964. Two of his granddaughters rowed for Bainbridge Island Rowing.
Once the evening’s guests were seated for dinner, BIR’s Board of Directors President Sue Entress gave the welcoming address. She began by asking how many eighty year olds in attendance were still rowing. Four or five hands shot into the air, drawing applause.
In reference to the night’s theme, Dream Big, Entress said, “If dreaming were a sport, then BIR would be an Olympic Team.” Entress recalled her start in rowing. She learned how to row in the McCurdy, an old, very heavy boat, so heavy, in fact, that, although there was a height discrepancy among her crew, she said, when they carried the McCurdy back to the boatyard everyone was briefly compressed into the same height.
Entress boasted about BIR’s program and equipment, which can accommodate 100 rowers in the water at the same time. She added that there are currently 200 rowers in the range of BIR programs. Entress called the sport “a catalyst for human interaction” in a world where obesity, anxiety, and depression are increasing among young people. She made reference to a survey of young people in which a majority wanted to see more intergenerational activities in their communities, just like rowing. Entress said, “rowing replaces Facebook with face time.”
She asked how many volunteers were in attendance, and a good 80 percent of the people in attendance raised their hands. Entress said that BIR’s volunteer hours are “through the roof.” She went on to praise City Manager Doug Schulze and the City of Bainbridge Island, which “works with us every step of the way,” including by leasing the club the land where the future boathouse will be located. That boathouse will be named the Stan Pocock Legacy Rowing Center.
The evenings’ guest speaker was Jack Carlson, a world championship bronze medalist and the author of Rowing Blazers. Carlson shared three anecdotes, including one about rowing in a rapidly sinking boat with a defective electric bilge pump. He shared a slide showing the rowers sitting on the water, desperately rowing, their boat submerged out of sight. Carlson used the story to caution rowers to take responsibility for their own equipment and by extension to be masters of their own fate, noting the irony that rowing is the quintessential team sport. He also said that rowing teaches you to adapt, that there are no shortcuts in life, and to have fun.
After Carlson spoke, the professional auctioneers started off the evening paddle calls. Look for a followup article on attendance and money raised at the event. In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of images from last night’s festivities.
Read more about the Stan Pocock Legacy Rowing Center. Did you miss the auction? It’s not too late to make a financial gift to BIR.
Photos by Sarah Lane.