By Sarah Yamaguchi
Several local high school rowing teams closed out their Vermont fall rowing season with heart, soul, and style this past Saturday, Oct. 28 in the annual Otter Creek Challenge Race hosted by Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Athletes from Mount Abraham Union High School, Vergennes Union High School, Champlain Valley Union High School, Lake Champlain Waldorf School, South Burlington High School, Rice Memorial High School, and Burlington High School gathered at Vergennes Falls Park to race a course along Otter Creek, launching near the falls and rowing down the creek before turning around and sprinting back to where they started, with family and friends cheering on all along the creek. As is tradition, the Otter Creek Challenge Race also includes a costume contest, for which there was also great competition.
The day began with good conditions for the novice boats’ short-course race; balmy temperatures and mild wind held out until the novice crews were finished racing. The novices put on a good showing as they fought to take the lead, and the Waldorf School’s six in Jimmy D led the pack home with a time of 23’57” on the short course. They were followed by the combination South Burlington/Vergennes boat, CVU, and a Vergennes crew. A Mt. Abe novice four competed alongside the sixes, pulling a 26’51.”
The experienced crews took their turn next, with sixes from Vergennes and Mt. Abe and a four from SBHS representing. Experienced (and intermediate) crews raced on a slightly longer course, and the Vergennes crew took the lead and put up the best long-course time of the day with a 32’23.” Mt. Abe and SBHS followed in hot pursuit.
By this point in the day, the wind had picked up. While crews enjoyed a tailwind and current at their backs for the first half of the race, they had to dip into their last reserves of strength to fight the headwind once they turned and made their way back towards the falls. Coxswains from each team could be heard encouraging their crews to push through the wind together and finish strong, and the intermediate crews in the final race of the day gave it their all. These intermediate crews included two sixes from CVU and one each from Rice and BHS, as well as a four from BHS. They put on an exciting race, with the CVU crew in Northern Sun ultimately finishing first with a 38’58.” The lone intermediate four, crewed by BHS, finished with a competitive 41’47.” The rain, which had held off until the end of racing, began to fall as the final boats pulled into shore.
The rowers rounded out the day with pizza provided by New England Federal Credit Union, the awards ceremony, and the costume contest. Prizes were given for best and most creative individual and group costumes. There were many good costumes, and it was a tough decision. The group awards ultimately went to a crew dressed as Vergennes’ Coach Dennis West and a CVU crew dressed in fluorescent pink Barbie costumes. Individual awards were presented to a “pirate cow” and the Jungian archetype “the sage.” The awards ceremony and prizes were made possible thanks to New England Federal Credit Union, Rockers Pizza, and Cookie Love. The successful race day is a testament to the Museum’s Champlain Longboats sponsors, to the coaches and parents, to Museum staff, and above all to the intrepid, expressive athletes who gave it their all.
Enjoy photos from the day by Buzz Kuhns below.
Otter Creek Challenge Race 2023 Full Results:
|CVUHS 1||Golden Oak||Short||29’19”||3|
|SBHS + Vergennes||Annie O||Short||28’54”||2|
|Mt. Abe 1||Charlie Burchard||Short||26’51”||1|
|BHS 2||Jimmy D||Long||45’27”||3|
|CVUHS 2||Golden Oak||Long||48’35”||4|
|CVUHS 3||Northern Sun||Long||38’58”||1|
|BHS 1||Charlie Burchard||Long||41’47”||1|
|Vergennes 3||Annie O||Long||32’33”||1|
|Mt. Abe 2||Rising Tide||Long||37’01”||2|
|SBHS 2||Blue Heron||Long||37’41”||1|