James Wakefield Rescue Row
On Saturday October 11, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats Program held its fall youth rowing race, the James Wakefield Rescue Row at Button Bay State Park. The race is named after James Wakefield who rowed out to the Burlington Breakwater through a fierce winter gale in December 1876 to rescue the passengers and crew of the shipwrecked canal schoonerGeneral Butler.
Over 120 youth participated, rowing 25- and 32-foot rowing boats in a series of heats. Crews hailed from local schools, including Burlington High School, South Burlington High School, Vergennes Middle and High School, Champlain Valley Union High School and Mt. Abe Middle and High School and the Diversified Occupations Program from Middlebury, as well as from Northhaven, Vinalhaven, and Rockland Maine. All of the boats used in the event were built at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum by Vermont High School and Middle School students.
In the six-oared races Vergennes was victorious in the experienced division, and Burlington High School in the intermediate division. In the four-oared races Station Maine from Rockland, Maine won the Intermediate division and Champlain Valley Union High won the novice division.
This Lake Champlain rowing event culminated in a mess-about, a race in which members from all the rowing crews are randomly mixed. Everyone has to learn to be teammates on very short notice. This final event truly captured the spirit of a magnificent day.
And there’s more rowing into the fall
- Area schools continue after-school rowing practice on Otter Creek and Lake Champlain into November.
- Champlain Valley youth rowing teams and LCMM’s Community Rowing Club will travel to Massachusetts in November for the Icebreaker race sponsored by the Hull Lifesaving Museum.
- LCMM hosts the 2.5-mile Otter Creek Challenge on November 1 at the Vergennes Falls Park in Vergennes, Vermont.