State Championships Yield Top Finishes, Medals

North Palm Beach Rowing Club’s Youth team wrapped its 2019 spring season with the two crowing events of the regular racing slate, the Florida State Sculling and Sweep Championships. Held as two separate regattas for each discipline of rowing, these two events bring together every top youth rower in Florida for two weekends of fierce competition. NPBRC emerged with two State Championship medals and a total of six Grand Final qualifications and two Petite Final appearances out of nine entries overall, indicative of a program that consistently outperforms many, many others in the state.

For context, Florida youth rowing is already one of the toughest competitive fields in the country. With a total of 52 member programs – larger than almost any other state – Florida athletes routinely qualify for the USRowing Youth National Championships and, in recent years, have begun to dominate the podium across many boat categories. For a relatively young team overall – this was the first State Championship appearance for several North Palm Beach rowers – NPBRC’s success at this year’s States is all the more impressive.

Special congratulations are due to NPBRC’s two medalists, Finn Yorty with bronze in the Boys’ Junior 1x and Whitney Young with silver in the Girl’s Junior 1x. These two races routinely deliver some of the most exciting and gutsy racing, and this year was no exception. Finn finished hot on the trail of Belen Jesuit and Sarasota, two of the state’s most established teams, while Whitney pressed last year’s winner all the way to the line. Kudos are also due to graduating senior Blake Pegrum, who capped an already impressive high school career with a 5th place finish overall. These weren’t the only noteworthy achievements, though. At every turn, NPB athletes coupled nearly flawless form with incredible grit, perseverance, and teamwork – all the while, adding to a valuable knowledge bank of experience for the future.

Two rowers, Whitney Young and graduating senior Lauren Arrington, competed just two weeks later in a pair (2-) at the Florida State Sweep Championships, also in Sarasota. The 2- is arguably the most challenging boat category to row since it requires such perfect balance and timing between the two rowers. After just 8 practices together, Whitney and Lauren fought their way through a tough field to qualify for the Grand Final, where they placed 6th in the state. Being able to switch into a new boat and perform this well is a testament to the girls’ fitness, technical skill, and adaptability.

The team will now look ahead to the Southeast Regional Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee May 11th and 12th and to several other elite races this summer. NPBRC will host an Open House on Saturday, June 1st for the public to learn more about this sport, and will also hold a summer camp for aspiring rowers from June 4th-13th.

Masters Make World Championship Debut

At the peak of a hot Florida summer, North Palm Beach Rowing Club’s “masters” team – in rowing, this refers to adults over age 23 – seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make its World Championship debut on US soil. For the first time ever, the FISA World Masters Championship was held in Florida at Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park – a new, sprawling top-notch international rowing venue just a four hour drive from NPBRC’s home base. This was an opportunity not to be missed.

Eleven stalwart NPBRC athletes joined competitors from 365 other clubs around the world for a shot at the coveted title of World Champion. Competitors came from as far away as Australia, Argentina, India, Russia, and nearly everywhere in between. South Africans. Swiss. Japanese. The international representation was absolutely staggering, a virtual United Nations of the rowing world. Within the US, this race drew top talent from our country’s most renowned and storied clubs. The venue was packed with every age, shape, and size imaginable: former elite athletes mingling with octogenarians, new racers soaking it in alongside some of the most recognizable names in rowing. When it was all said and done, when the burn of lactic acid was done and hearts and lungs returned to a more sustainable pace, NPBRC’s rowers left the racecourse with one third place finish, multiple fourth place finishes, and many other hard-fought races under their belts, experience that has only heightened the team’s hunger for more and sharpened skills for seasons to come.

Regardless of the outcome, one fact stands out. North Palm Beach took to the field when many others dared not.

Opportunity seen. Opportunity seized.

NPB Scullers Storm Stotesbury Cup

On May 18th and 19th, three NPBRC athletes made their debut at the US’ largest, oldest, and most prestigious high school rowing race, the Stotesbury Cup Regatta. Gunther Schwartz (St. Andrews Episcopal), Maricella Adams-Grimaldi (Suncoast), and Gracie Leon (Seminole Ridge HS) joined a total of 196 clubs and over 5600 high school rowers on the Cooper River in Camden, NJ for two grueling days of competition against the best high school rowers in the United States and Canada.

NPBRC’s Gracie Leon and Mari Adams-Grimaldi, facing a field of 36 in the women’s 1x event, shocked the US scholastic rowing scene by posting the fastest finishes of any female US youth scullers, finishing third and fifth, respectively. Gracie’s third place finish put her in hot pursuit of Grimsby’s Emma Dockray (Ontario, CAN) and Blessed Trinity’s Lauren Kelly (Ontario, CAN), both of whom are fixtures on Rowing Canada’s Junior National team. Fourth place went to yet another strong Canadian athlete, Madison Thomas of Welland Centennial (Ontario, CAN). NPB’s own Mari Adams-Grimaldi was just a few seconds behind, rounding out the top five of this elite field. NPB’s Gunther Schwartz, in the boy’s varsity 1x event,  surpassed 15 other clubs in the time trial despite a stiff headwind, driving rain, and white-capped water to finish just shy of the semifinal qualification – a valiant performance against North America’s toughest male scullers.

These three athletes will join several of their NPBRC teammates to race the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association (CSSRA) regatta May 25th-26th in St. Catherines, Ontario. NPBRC’s top female sculler, Gracie Leon, has already qualified for the USRowing Youth National Championship to be held June 9th-10th in Rancho Cordova, CA.

Two State Titles, Top Finishes at FSRA Championship Regatta

North Palm Beach Rowing Club’s youth team notched it’s best performance ever this year at the 2018 Florida State Sculling Championships, hosted by the FL Scholastic Rowing Association (FSRA). NPBRC is now home to the two fastest female single scullers in Florida youth rowing, Gracie Leon (Girls Varsity 1x) and Maricella Adams-Grimaldi (Girls Jr. 1x), who dominated the field in their respective events to capture gold against the fastest scullers in the state.  Meanwhile, NPBRC qualified 4 other of their 8 total entries (for a total of 6) into the Grand Final of their events. Of these, NPBRC walked away with two 5th place Grand Final finishes and two 6th place finishes. Perhaps most importantly, though, each and every NPB entry left it all on the racecourse. For many NPBRC rowers, this was their first year of competition and first ever appearance at a rowing state championship – an admirable performance by all. For others, like senior Lucas Rossell, who finished top 6 in the state against one of the toughest fields in the regatta, the boys Lightweight 1x, the event capped an extensive – and very impressive – high school rowing career.

With the regular season behind it, several North Palm Beach athletes will continue on to USRowing’s Southeast Regional Championship and the USRowing Youth National Championship, and much of the team will continue to hone their skills as they prepare for races nationally and internationally.

 

 

Palm Beach “Burn” produces American Champion

North Palm Beach Rowing Club hosted Palm Beach County’s first-ever indoor rowing competition, the Palm Beach Burn, on Saturday, August 19th. Athletes came from as far as Orlando for this event to compete in a morning packed both with fierce competition and genuine camaraderie.

Without question, the star of the show was Mr. George Heller. At a spry 95 years, Mr. Heller competed in the 1000m 90+ event and not only did he handily win his age category, but also set a new 2017 American record – a fact just confirmed by authorities at Concept2.

“The Burn” featured age categories ranging from under-15 (“U15”) to 90+ and a range of distance options to fit every fitness level. NPBRC wishes to thank the many volunteers and local sponsors who made The Burn a success, and congratulate all of our competitors on  a job well done!

Second NPBRC Rower invited to Jr. National Team Camp

North Palm Beach Rowing Club athlete Gracie Leon has become the second NPBRC rower this season to be invited to a USRowing Junior National Team Development Camp. Gracie began rowing with NPBRC in 2016. According to USRowing, she was invited based on several factors, including her many wins this year (the Southeast Regional Championship as one example, in which she won two gold medals), her ergometer score, and her proven potential.

As stated in USRowing’s invitation letter, the purpose of this Development Camp is to identify future hopefuls for the 2018 and 2019 US Junior National Team and increase the pool of available athletes from which to choose future National Team competitors. Gracie is one of only 24 girls from across the United States selected to attend this camp, which focuses on singles (1x), doubles (2x), and quads (4x). USRowing’s goal is to “identify athletes with potential early in their rowing careers and put them in an environment where they can learn and grow in the sport. This will help them better understand the process for contending for a World Championship.”

We are very proud of Gracie’s accomplishment and the incredible results that our coaching staff, parents and teammates have produced in such a short time.

 

NPBRC Qualifies for Youth National Championship

The North Palm Beach Rowing Club medaled in 3 out of its 5 events at USRowing’s Southeast Youth Championship Regatta, May 13- 14 on Lake Lanier in Gainesville GA. This race drew 41 clubs from FL, SC, NC, AL, GA, and TN competing for a chance to qualify for the National Championship regatta in June.

NPBRC’s Gracie Leon won a gold medal and a trophy in the Womens Youth 1x.  With this win in a “qualifying race” against the best high school rowers in the Southeast region, Gracie is now invited to race at the US Rowing Youth National Championship Regatta, June 9-11 in Sarasota, Florida. Only the top three women in the 1x race from the SE region advanced to Nationals.  This is the first time that any NPBRC rower has won that honorGracie also won a gold medal that same day in the Women’s U17 race.

Kolton Paxson, who was recently invited to Junior National Team Development Camp this summer, won a third place medal this weekend in the Mens U17 race.

Aryanna Ramsey and Madison Chuchla finished 5th out of 14 boats in the Womens Lightweight 2x “qualifying level” race, a great accomplishment for both young oarswomen after a very competitive “time trial” on Saturday.

    

NPBRC Rower Invited to Jr. National Team Development Camp

North Palm Beach Rowing Club is proud to announce that one of our youth team rowers, Kolton Paxson, has accepted an invitation to participate this summer in the 2017 USRowing Junior Men’s National Team Development Camp. He will be one of only 30 rowers from across the United States to have been invited to this camp. The rowers were selected at USRowing’s Identification Camps held throughout the country earlier this year.

Junior Men’s National team Coach John Cohen says that “Camp will take place at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, with the goal of helping all athletes become better prepared for the rigors of international racing. This camp is the perfect stepping stone for those athletes who are serious about training at a high level, and taking the first step toward one day representing the United States at the World Championships.” Kolton said “I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to train at the US Rowing Men’s Junior National Development Camp to improve my skill as a rower.”

Kolton, age 16, learned to row at NPBRC just six months ago but has quickly developed into a talented oarsman, most recently finishing fourth at the 2017 Florida State Sculling Championships. He will continue to compete throughout the summer both in the US and internationally.

 

Girls Jr 1x Silver Medal and Great Success at Sculling State Championship

The North Palm Beach Rowing Club finished the regular season with the club’s best-ever results at the Florida State Sculling Championship, held April 8-9th in Sarasota, FL. Five of the club’s six boats entered advanced, with three to Finals and two to Petite Finals. Of those 5 boats, all finished at least 8th or above in the entire state. As you read the results, bear in mind that every single one of the talented rowers named is in their first year of rowing….so the future is looking very bright for our young team.

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Boys Junior 1x Kolton Paxson (center) and teammates enjoying the regatta

NPBRC’s Gracie Leon, age 16, earned a SILVER medal in the Girls’ Junior 1x, making her the second fastest junior (11th grade and below) sculler in Florida. With poise and grit, Gracie finished with a time of  6:58.8, just 4.3 seconds off of Jacksonville and a full 16 seconds faster than the next boat in the pack. Gracie’s winning streak began at her first regatta in the fall of 2016. She has medaled in every regatta she’s raced in this year.

NPBRC’s Kolton Paxson, age 16, won his Boys Junior 1x Heat in a commanding fashion to enter Sunday’s Final, where he placed 4th against the fastest junior boys’ scullers in the state. Kolton finished in 6:25.6, a solid finish for a rower who, like the rest of his teammates, continues to add speed with each and every practice.

Our Girls Lightweight (LW) 2x of Aryana Ramsey and Madison Chuchla, ages 17, advanced from their first Heat to a Repechage on Saturday. Their “first place” finish in the Repechage guaranteed them a spot in Sunday’s Final. In a barn-burner of a race that ended in a photo finish, the girls finished 4th in the state – just one tenth of a second off of securing a bronze medal.

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Girls LW 2x, Aryana Ramsey and Madison Chuchla

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Boys LW 1x, Dominic Pagan

Our Boys LW 1x, Dominic Pagan, 17, also advanced through a tough heat and a Repechage on Saturday to qualify for Sunday’s Petite Final. Dominic won the Petite Final handily, betting the 2nd place finisher by 5.3 seconds and placing 7th in the state with a time of 6:49.1.

Facing a fierce field of 21 entries, NPBRC’s Boys Freshman 2x of Grafton Gore (14) and Jonah Kotzen (16) fought their way through a Heat and Repechage on Saturday to qualify for the Petite Final on Sunday, where they finished 2nd. Their time of 6:24.8 put them 8th in the state of Florida overall.

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Boys Freshmen 2x, Grafton Gore and Jonah Kotzen

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Girls Freshmen 2x, Marcella Adams-Grimaldi and Summer Scott

Our Girls Freshman 2x duo of Marcella Adams-Grimaldi (15) and Summer Scott (16) also raced in one of the most competitive events of the regatta against a field of 14 boats. The girls finished 7th in their heat, narrowly missing a chance to advance to the repechage.

Special thanks go to our parents and coaches, without whom none of this success would be possible. This is just the start for NPBRC’s young team. Commitment, character, sound coaching and the indelible bonds of friendship make this a truly exceptional team. Quite a few NPBRC rowers will continue to train in our Summer Rowing Session and compete throughout the summer in races around North America. NPBRC will also offer a summer camp for new rowers (no experience required) from June 5th-16th, followed by continued training for novices throughout the summer. It is truly never too late to pick up an oar!

NPBRC Medals at Miami International Regatta

NPBRC’s juniors earned several medals at the Miami International Regatta, held Saturday, March 25 in Miami, FL. The day’s racing was a test of skill and stamina with winds up to 25 mph during the races, but NPBRC’s team pressed on undaunted by the rough water, racing singles, doubles, and quads with quiet, focused composure through the chop. Congratulations to all our rowers!

Of special note were the gold medals won by the girl’s novice quad. Our girls took an early lead and just kept pushing themselves to beat the second place winner by a whopping 30 seconds!  The entire NPBRC squad performed phenomenally, as also shown by our Boys Freshman 2x who brought home bronze medals in a fantastic race. Hard work and a special coach are charting  a bright future for this incredible team.

NPBRC will next race April 8th and 9th at the Florida State Sculling Championship in Sarasota.