Mathias wins sil­ver row­ing 13.1 miles aroud Wye Is­land

Kent County News - - SPORTS -

QUEEN­STOWN — The 13.1mile race around Wye Is­land is al­ways a test of grit, even on pleas­ant days, but the weather gods threw nasty head­winds, choppy seas and a boat­load of rain at the com­peti­tors at this year’s nau­ti­cal half-marathon.

Row­ing most of his race in a frog-stran­gling del­uge, Ch­ester River Row­ing Club’s Ted Mathias claimed sec­ond place in his sin­gle, fin­ish­ing less than two min­utes be­hind Rush Fisher of the Wilm­ing­ton Row­ing Cen­ter in a seven-boat field. Mathias raced for 1 hour, 52 min­utes and 25 sec­onds, best­ing the third-place boat by 43 sec­onds.

“As I was walk­ing with my shell to launch in a down­pour, I thought the con­di­tions could only get bet­ter,” Mathias re­called. “Then, com­ing around the bot­tom of the is­land, the wind and chop pick­ing up, I thought ev­ery­one else had to get through this, so I pulled as hard as I could.”

Af­ter fin­ish­ing, Mathias learned that re­sults wouldn’t be posted at the venue, so he and ev­ery­one else went home to dry out and check their com­put­ers.

“I sur­prised my­self when two days later I found out I had fin­ished sec­ond,” he said.

In all, Ch­ester River sent three rac­ing shells — Mathias’ sin­gle, a men’s four and a women’s eight — to the Wye Is­land en­durance test Sat­ur­day, Sept. 8. Spon­sored by the An­napo­lis Row­ing Club, this year’s re­gatta at­tracted 78 en­tries from as far away as Pitts­burgh and North Carolina.

As al­ways, there was a wide ar­ray of peo­ple-pow­ered craft, from stand-up pad­dle boards, ca­noes and kayaks to tra­di­tional row­boats, wide-bot­tomed recre­ational shells and sleek, round-bot­tom rac­ers.

Ch­ester River’s Josh Gan­non, Jack Davis and Mickey Els­berg re­cruited Wilm­ing­ton’s Doug Green to stroke and Mary Cas­sidy to cox their men’s four. Cas­sidy steered through near-blind­ing rain for half the race as the crew bat­tled re­lent­less head­winds, cross­ing the fin­ish line in 1 hour, 49 min­utes and 47 sec­onds. CRRC was a lit­tle more than eight min­utes be­hind Bull Run Row­ing Club, the only other boat in the class.

Ch­ester River’s women’s eight got a re­prieve from the driv­ing rain, head­ing for the start­ing line a few min­utes af­ter the storm let up, but still fac­ing head­winds and choppy water. Di­nah Rior­dan set the pace as stroke with Patti Nash, Tina Con­nolly, Ethel Arm­strong, Margie Els­berg, Linda Reed, Lucy Mitchell and Sue Collins round­ing out the crew.

Likely the old­est crew in the field, the eight from Chestertown fin­ished sixth out of nine boats in 1 hour and 50 min­utes. The win­ning boat, from Three Rivers Row­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in Pitts­burgh, rounded the is­land in 1 hour, 33 min­utes and 59 sec­onds.

Olivia Robb, a Washington Col­lege coxswain, steered a course so pre­cise that the boat’s GPS me­ter mea­sured the crew’s path around Wye Is­land at just un­der the re­gatta’s of­fi­cial 13.1 miles. She said she had never coxed a mas­ters crew be­fore, only high school and col­le­giate row­ers.

“I’ve never met a crew that wanted to test how far they could push them­selves in such a unique way. This race drains you com­pletely half­way through, and you still have to find the en­ergy to put power be­hind ev­ery stroke,” Robb said. “These ladies fin­ished this 13.1-mile race at 30 strokes per minute, and it was strong.”

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Ch­ester River Row­ing Club’s women’s eight com­pleted the 13.1-mile tour around Wye Is­land in 1 hour, 50 min­utes. From left are: coach John Wag­ner, Margie Els­berg, Lucy Mitchell, Linda Reed, Patti Nash, Sue Collins, Di­nah Rior­dan, coxswain Olivia Robb, Tina Con­nolly and Ethel Arm­strong.

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