Every year the lake Champlain Maritime Museum travels to Hull MA in early March to be part of the Snow Row, an annual rowing race sponsored by the Hull Lifesaving Museum. The Snow Row is a 3 ½ mile rowing paddling race in Boston Harbor. As many as 75 boats participate This year the race was scheduled for March 4th. Unfortunately that was the weekend of the Bomb Cyclone, a Nor’easter that pummeled the New England coast. The race was postponed for 2 weeks and many of the original participants were not able to travel on the new date. Two intrepid crews from LCMM were able to make the trip on the rescheduled date. Mt. Abraham Union High School put a team together with a mixture of high school rowers, high school alumni and one of LCMM’s AmeriCorps members. In addition the LCMM adults assembled a team of rowers from the Champlain Valley and the Amherst MA region While the Bomb Cyclone was a fairly distant memory the forecast for the new race day was better but still intimidating. Winds of 20 MPH gusting 35 were predicted. The Hull Lifesaving museum decided to not allow the smaller rowing boats and kayaks to participate but the 32’ pilot gigs were determined to be well up to the challenge. As predicted when we showed up at the race start on Saturday morning at 8AM the air temperature was 15 degrees and the wind was blowing 20-30 MPH. After a trial row both teams felt confident they could stay the course.
The race had been changed from a triangular 3.5 mile course to an out and back 2-mile course due to the conditions. We all lined up for the start. There was a steady 25 MPH headwind on the first leg of the race. To compound the challenge the winds were meeting a tidal rip where Boston Harbor empties into Hull Gut to the open ocean. Crews had to claw their way to the 1 mile race mark with breaking waves and high winds buffeting the boats. By race time temperatures had rebounded to a balmy 20 degrees.
The adult crew from LCMM blessed with 2 ringers who had rowed in college took an early lead and never looked back. Ric Strong in the bow seat took the brunt of the breaking waves and all pulled together to be the first pilot gig across the finish line and win the adult pilot gig category. Mt. Abraham Union High School gutted it out and came in second in the mixed youth/ adult pilot gig category.
This was a day where almost 50% of the staring boats did not finish the race. The Champlain Longboat crews from LCMM were not only able to finish but came in 1st and 2nd in their divisions. Everyone involved felt they had truly challenged themselves. It was an amazing day on the ocean.