David Crosby hadn't competed in a rowing race in nearly 40 years. Glenn Miller dug out an old Michigan State crew team jersey he said he hadn't worn in about 25 years. Heather Haugland had only been rowing once since she rowed for Harvard-Radcliffe College.
Several local rowers shook the dust off some long-unused skills to compete in the Juneau Rowing Club's inaugural regatta on Saturday. A dozen rowers, many of them former college oarsmen and oarswomen, competed in Saturday's races, where the athletes competed in single sculls or double sculls rigged for one person over a 2,000-meter course on Gastineau Channel.
"I had not been on the water for almost 40 years," said Crosby, who rowed in an eight when he attended Yale. "About a month ago Matt (Kirchhoff) and Toy (Campbell) got me out on a boat. They pulled me off the Concept Two (rowing machine at the Juneau Racquet Club)."
"I'd never raced in a scull before, but it wasn't too hard," said Miller, who rowed at Michigan State. "These (sculls) balance pretty well. It was a perfect day for it. It was really fun to get out on the water."
The races were run with three preliminary heats of four rowers each on Saturday morning and early afternoon. Six rowers advanced to the grand final, which was won by Wayne Carnes in 8 minutes, 55 seconds. Carnes' winning time in the grand final was nearly three minutes slower than his preliminary heat time, when he took advantage of a tailwind and an ebb tide to post a 6:24, the fastest time of the day.
"There was no wind and the current was the other way," said Carnes, who rowed in the early 1980s at California Maritime Academy. Carnes grew up in Juneau and didn't take up rowing until he went to college. He competed in an eight for two years, then didn't pick up rowing again until earlier this year when he built his own rowing shell from a kit he bought from Wayland Marine of Bellingham, Wash.
"I had this seat in a Grumman canoe," Carnes said of the sliding seat that is now in his scull. "I work for the ferry, and I was in Ketchikan for a couple of months. I built the boat to give me something to do. It took me about 100 hours, about twice as long as I thought it would."
Since he owns his own shell, Carnes has been more active on the water than a lot of the rowers. He lives in North Douglas, so he launches his boat from that boat ramp. To celebrate his 40th birthday in April, Carnes rowed 40 kilometers, skate-skied 40 kilometers and rode his bike 40 kilometers.
"This is a lot wider than a racing scull," Carnes said of his boat, which is designed for rougher water than the long, narrow racing shells. "The transition going from an eight? The first time (in a scull) I thought I was going to tip over. But the main thing is to relax and you'll maintain your balance."
Haugland took second place overall, even though she'd only rowed once - last week - since competing in college. Haugland's time in the grand final was 9:14, slower than her winning time of 7:35 in the second preliminary heat. While most of the former college rowers were used to rowing sweep oars - the alternating port-starboard set-up used for eights and fours - Haugland said she'd rowed single and double sculls for a club rowing program in Seattle when she was in high school.
"It was like riding a bicycle," said Haugland, whose strategy was to open with 20 power strokes, then slow down until she settled into a rhythm, then increase her speed as she neared the finish line. "I was trying not to expend too much energy early in the race. It was really exciting. I would love to see the club grow so we could get some bigger boats."
Carnes took the lead early in the grand final and never trailed, while Brad Fluetsch was second at the start with Haugland third, followed by Miller, Crosby and Ann Ferlauto. Miller passed Fluetsch about 800 meters into the race, then Haugland caught Fluetsch 200 meters later. Haugland caught Miller about 200 meters from the finish line.
Miller took third place in 9:33, followed by Crosby in 10:20, Fluetsch in 10:39 and Ferlauto in 10:53. Fluetsch was the only rower without college crew team experience in the final, but he used to paddle for a Tlingit war canoe team. Ferlauto rowed for Mount Holyoke College.
Most of the race organization was done by Matt Kirchhoff, a former Syracuse rower whose daughter Rachael also is a former Syracuse rower. Toy Campbell, another club official, said she'd never rowed until buying a boat two years ago, about the time she and Kirchhoff started organizing the club so local rowers could get together.
"This was my first race," Campbell said. "It was fun to have them cheering you along on the sides. It was a blast."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
JUNEAU ROWING CLUB INAUGURAL REGATTA
Results from the Juneau Rowing Club's inaugural regatta, held Saturday over a 2,000-meter course on the Gastineau Channel. Rowers competed in single sculls (or double sculls rigged for one person).
Grand Final - 1. Wayne Carnes, 8 minutes, 55 seconds; 2. Heather Haugland, 9:14; 3. Glenn Miller, 9:33; 4. David Crosby, 10:20; 5. Brad Fluetsch, 10:39; 6. Ann Ferlauto, 10:53.
Preliminary Heat One - 1. Wayne Carnes, 6:24; 2. David Crosby, 7:06; 3. Brad Fluetsch, 7:24; 4. Toy Campbell, 9:12.
Preliminary Heat Two - 1. Heather Haugland, 7:35; 2. Rachael Kirchhoff, 7:42; 3. Matt Kirchhoff, 7:52; 4. Carl Ferlauto, 8:06.
Preliminary Heat Three - 1. Glenn Miller, 8:06; 2. Ann Ferlauto, 8:22; 3. James Bibb, 8:31; 4. Sam Skaggs, 8:36.