There’s nothing quite like Regionals – the annual USRowing Northwest Youth Championships. It is a study in extremes – part intense, driven regional competition with an eye toward qualifying for the national championships and part end-of-year steam blowoff. You’ll see student athletes gasping for air, doubled over in agony after a strenuous race, and then a few minutes later those same rowers decked out in costume are howling in laughter, jumping off their boats into the water.
The 2018 version of Regionals at Lake Vancouver State Park proved to be the usual mix of close finishes and wacky races, featuring teams from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. Three action-packed days later, BIR’s junior rowers emerged with a boatload of medals, having had a blast together with teammates and supporters alike.
The varsity men’s lightweight four took the biggest BIR victory of the year, earning the title of Northwest Champions after winning their heat by multiple lengths and then besting Oregon Unlimited by a big four seconds in the final. The women’s lightweight 8+ also qualified for nationals with a third place finish in their Saturday afternoon timed final.
The women’s junior varsity 4+ grabbed a silver behind Holy Names, and the mens junior varsity lightweight 4+ boat added a bronze, just ahead of their C boat teammates. The women’s junior varsity lightweight 4+ boat expanded to BIR’s weekend haul with a silver of their own. All in all, Bainbridge made its way into 14 of the regatta’s finals with 17 different boats.
As a finale to the regatta, the high school races traditionally involve costumes, and those costumes seemed to inspire all the BIR crews in the final four races as the men’s varsity 8+ pocketed a gold, their female counterparts earned a silver and the women’s C boat grabbed a bronze.
The men’s teams dressed as minions and as their female teammates, sporting Sharpie tattoos reading, “Lady Power” and “Ladies Are Strong.” The women became Dads, wearing floral print shirts and bucket hats (think Gilligan in Maui), Disney Princesses and more. As a nice final touch, the varsity men jumped into the water post-race and swam out to help their female counterparts to shore with a friendly tow.
Bainbridge Island rowers left school around midday on Thursday, May 17, and took team buses down to Vancouver, WA where they unloaded gear and boats before moving their luggage into their semi-swanky digs at the waterfront Red Lion Hotel. The races began Friday morning and carried on throughout the weekend, culminating with finals on Sunday.
After a season-wrapping team meeting held in the shade of a tree, the teams packed up the trailers and headed for home around 2 p.m. Although the lakeside greens were sodden and muddy, the weather held out, staying beautifully warm and mostly sunny all weekend, and reflecting the camaraderie, friendship and team spirit on display throughout.
Here are some of the best moments of the 2018 USRowing Northwest Youth Championships on Lake Vancouver, WA, as captured by Bainbridge Island Rowing’s top team of parent photographers:
Photos courtesy of Linda Cox, Tim Dore, Stefan Goldby, Theona Jundanian, Jennifer Harwood Pells, Tina Stone, and Viviana Van Ness.