By Elizabeth Tobey
The highlight of the New Canaan Sprints Spring Regatta is definitely the Battle of the Barges. Used to teach beginners how to row, the barge is a 43-foot vessel with sweep rowers sitting side by side with space to allow a coach to walk down the center. It is never seen in competition; except twice a year when the Maritime Rowing Club stages the race to give its middle schoolers a sense of competition and to celebrate the end of the club’s learn-to-row program. It takes 12 rowers, a cox and a coach to power the barge down the 1,000 meter course. As the barge reaches the finish line the crowd erupts in cheers, and it’s possible to see the determination on the faces of the rowers stiffen as they work to get the massive boat across the finish line. It is a success for all of the competitors.
The fastest time was record by the team of Will Masters, Margaret Seeman, Paul Gelaus, Riley Woodroof, Emily Russel, Mauri Litvak, Steven DiCarlo, Cameron Shutts, James VanDeventer, Isabel Kenney, Peter Lavieri and Kaitlin Karr, who earned themselves a gold medal.
The Spring Sprints are an opportunity for New Canaan Crew and Maritime Rowing Club’s up-and-coming rowers to showcase their progress to friends and family on their home course. But it is a real regatta and the four other clubs were there to compete seriously. The Spring Sprints are unusual for a sprint race in that they are run “head style,” with boats entering the course at 15-second intervals. Good navigation is key as it is not a straight course but turns sharply just after the I-95 bridge. It is also unusual in that spectators get a bird’s-eye view of the finish by the Maritime Aquarium, where rowers can find themselves on a course straight for the viewing platform due to mistakes made at the last turn. Of course, US Rowing officials are on site to make sure everyone stays safe.
Ross Burnaman, David Kircher, Graham Mink and Tucker Klutey took the first gold of the morning in the Men’s Varsity quad with a blistering 4:55, while Geoffrey Cloud, Charlie Mullaney, Arthur Rosky and Ryan Hanavan earned a silver in the junior varsity category of the same event.
In the men’s varsity four, Ned Berman, Nick Flynn, Sam Wiley and Evan Turiano bested local rival club SoNo rowing for the gold.
Emily Caccam and her partner, Lauren Bell, brought home the gold in the women’s double, while teammates Bea Tobey and Veronica Hoeft grabbed the gold in the double’s junior varsity category.
Kathryn Squitieri, Alex Savoca, Emily Caccam and Lauren Bell edged out their teammates to take gold in the women’s varsity quad.
Tucker Klutey and Graham Mink earned gold by the length of a bow ball in the men’s varsity double.
Riley O’Neil, Phillip Bogdanov, Will Barker and Jamie Marshman, with a time of 6.02.00, beat out their teammates in the middle school quad to pick up yet another gold for Maritime Rowing.
In the women’s novice eight, Alex Yanoff, Hannah Foley, Lauren Fernindorf, Madison Yancy, Jackie Winsch, Caroline Cone, Sam Stein and Katie DeSantis, coxed by Katherine Perez, beat Greenwich by the narrowest of margins to wear gold medals home.
Alex Buck and his partner, Peter Tortora, had a similarly close win over their teammates to take gold in the varsity men’s pair.
In the men’s varsity singles, it was a sweep for New Canaan and Maritime Rowing Clubs with Ross Burnaman taking the gold, Ned Berman the silver and Geoffrey Cloud winning bronze.
Robert Powis, Theo Christian, Tim Steckler, Juan Pablo Rivera, Justin Vasquez, Mac Zech, Rex Rubin and Nick Reynoso, coxed by Frankie Hogan, earned bronze in the novice 8, coming in just seconds behind Norwalk River Rowing and Greenwich. Meredith Rogers, Lauren Howe, Alex Yanoff and Brit Viergever, coxed by Ashwini Rao, took a clean silver in the novice women’s four.
New Canaan will compete this weekend in the Northeast Junior District championships. The top three boats advance to the U.S. Youth Nationals next month in Tennessee.