Teamwork, Fast Strokes, and Apple Pie: RNY Takes on the Head of the Anacostia

Teamwork, Fast Strokes, and Apple Pie: RNY Takes on the Head of the Anacostia

by Alessandra Simeone

This past Saturday, Row New York’s Competitive Para and Competitive Masters Programs kicked off their fall season at the Head of the Anacostia Regatta in Washington D.C.  Clear skies, calm water and hot temperatures greeted our rowers for the 4,000-meter race. Row New York competed in seven events and cranked out solid performances in each race!

Both competitive teams prepared accordingly for this regatta; our coaches planned to use this race as a stepping-stone for the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in mid-October. With some intense practices under their belts, the Row New York crew headed to D.C., ready to dust off any racing cobwebs left from the summer.

Our Competitive Masters team set the tone for the day as the Masters Men’s 4x (four rowers, each with two oars) was the first RNY crew to hit the water on Saturday with Carl Taeusch, Bob Benjamin, Frank Folz and Tom Taylor. Despite only a few practices together beforehand, the crew powered down the course to a 2nd place finish.

Mens 4x Head of Anacostia

Mens 4x team after their second place finish!

Next to hit the water for Row New York was the Mens Masters 4+ of Robert Jones, Simon Billinge, Steve Salee, Craig Fithian and coxswain Catherine Hicks. With seats on the line for the Head of the Charles Regatta, this crew dug deep and earned an impressive 1st place finish.

Master's 4+ in boat Head of Anacostia

The Mens 4+ boat gets ready to race.

The Women’s Masters 4+ of Laurie Mason, Abbey Wells, Meredith Avery, Christy Loper and Catherine Hicks as coxswain were next in the lineup. They fought a very strong crew from the Annapolis Rowing Club and placed 2nd in the event.

Women's 4+ Head of Anacostia

The Women’s 4+ after their hard-earned 2nd place.

After a brief rest from their previous race, Simon Billinge and Craig Fithian took to the water for a second race in the Men’s Masters 2x (two rowers, with two oars each) event, where they finished at a respectable 3rd place. Competitive Masters Coach Matt Logue was especially proud of this performance: “it’s an outstanding finish given the [weather] conditions and their earlier performance in the 4+ race.”

With her vocal chords still intact, Catherine Hicks (in her 3rd race of the day as a coxswain!) led the Mixed Masters 8+ boat comprised of the Women’s Masters 4+ along with Robert Jones, Steve Salee, Tom Taylor and Scott Sigel. This combined crew left all other Mixed 8+ boats in their wake on their way to the 1st place finish!

Comp Masters Head of Anacostia

Mixed 8+ ready for the their race!

After such a successful turnout for our Competitive Masters, it only made sense that our Competitive Para-rowers followed suit!

Competitive Para Coach Carol Quijada used the week before to prepare her rowers for the 4,000 meter distance of the race: “We started with a 4k erg session to prepare Maria, Matt, and Margaret mentally and physically. I thought it might be a little dry but they loved it and were glad to experience what a 4k felt like.” At the Regatta, they had their team meeting and got ready for to achieve their goals for the day.

After their success at the 2014 Bayada Regatta in July, Matt Turner and Margaret Rajnic teamed up again for the Mixed LTA (Leg, Trunk, Arms) 2x event this weekend.  Five other LTA 2x crews joined Matt and Margaret for the full 4,000-meter race!  They finished 3rd in this incredibly competitive and truly inspirational event: “When Matt and Margaret passed their last bridge before getting to the finish line, they looked relaxed and strong. They represented Row New York with such fierceness as they sprinted through the last meters, I was very happy to see them through the finish line,” said Coach Carol. With their first fall race down, Matt and Margaret are now focused on training for the Head of the Charles, in which they will join two athletes from Three Rivers Rowing Association in the Mixed LTA 4+ event!

RNY's Competitive Masters Team cheers on Margaret and Matt as they race down the course.

RNY’s Competitive Masters Team cheers on Margaret and Matt as they race down the course.

In the final race of the regatta, Maria Bournias took to the water for the TA 1x (Trunk, Arms with two oars for one rower) full 4000m race. This marked the one year anniversary of Maria’s first race (also at the Head of the Anacostia) and, like last year, she owned the race!  Maria raced all 4,000 meters of the course and took nearly two minutes off of her time from last year. Coach Matt believed it was a very unifying moment for RNY: “Watching Maria cross the finish line with the entire Row New York contingent cheering her on from the dock was a very powerful moment and a very fitting way to end our first regatta of the fall season!” Could the regatta have ended any better?

Maria set to launch.

Maria set to launch.

It did. With an Apple Pie Eating Contest post-regatta. It couldn’t have been a sweeter ending to an amazing day of performances for our rowers!

Nothing like a group photo...and apple pie.

Apple pie makes group photos even better!

All in all, it was another great weekend for Row New York. Both competitive teams displayed the utmost sportsmanship, drive, and a unifying camaraderie across both programs. Our athletes are eager to bring their race experiences back to New York and enhance their skills before their next fall regatta. Thank you to our coaches and rowers who made the weekend an incredible experience!