There were only a handful of races completed Saturday morning at USRowing Youth Nationals at Harsha Lake when the rain, in full force, hit the course. Races were postponed until 1:15 pm, and an epic downpour drenched the Cincinnati area. This was the first of several postponements during the day; the clouds that hung over the lake threatened, and the referees yielded to the thunder and lightning to keep the young athletes safe. This stuttering pattern of racing continued throughout the day, with "holds" on racing at 2:15, 4:30, and 5:15, approximately. Boats would be carefully placed on the edge of the dock, rowed away, then asked to retreat...pronto!
Perilous clouds aside, the racing carried on otherwise with impressive efficiency at 7 minutes centers, sometimes getting ahead when racing was active. Friday heats had supplied full lanes of fast boats, even those who did not progress demonstrated some excellent rowing; rigorous qualification does in fact bring speed to Youth Nationals.
On Friday the weather story was hot and muggy, and that question referees ask when you are slumped over your oar after the race...."four seat, are you OK?" was very real on such a hot and humid day. (Referees want an answer on this one, not drama.) The athletes who did well were the ones who could cope with the temps and perform for 2000 meters, a distance not all the rowers at this regatta race regularly.
One referee says the race that concluded the day on Friday, a heat of the Men's pair, was one of her favorite races ever. That is pretty solid praise, given the number of races these folks view each weekend. For the record, that race concluded with three pairs (Capital City, Everett, and St. Louis) within a second of each other at the line.
Come Saturday, folks were cursing how many times they wished for some relief from the heat on Friday. Call it karma or just delivery of the forecast, Saturday was a challenge.
The mid-day eights races provided some excitement and speed that easily distracted from the weather. Two California crews took the Men's LW eights, with Newport and Marin taking their semi rounds. In the Women's LW eight, it was a bi-coastal semi win with Los Gatos taking the first, Community Rowing in Boston taking the second. A similar pattern in the LW fours with NorCal taking the first heat and Connecticut BC taking the second.
In the Men's Eights, Kent School rowed a race they that got folks in the referee tent talking during a break. Unified and graceful rowing put this Connecticut crew out in front of the second semi winner, Marin, by one second. "They were rowing like college kids," said one referee. In the women's eights, Connecticut Boat Club won their race with blade work that certainly is worth a good look by competing crews. Los Gatos was second in their heat by 13 seconds, but the first heat had Oakland Strokes, winner of the SW regional qualifier at just 5 seconds back from top time.
Racing starts Sunday am with heat and thunderstorms predicted again, 88 degrees and lightning. At least this time it is only 50% chance.
Youth Nationals photo galleries: