In their second regatta of the Fall, 2021 season, North Palm Beach Rowing Club athletes captured 26 gold, 9 silver and 4 bronze medals against a field of 11 other clubs at the Fellsmere Regatta on October 9th, 2021. This well-attended regatta had 235 entries across 27 different race events. Along with their high school counterparts who had great success at the junior level, new middle school rowers had a dominant showing in the novice races as well. Notable is that every senior took a gold and for about half the team this was their first regatta.
“This is the first time as a club we have been at the top of the medal count at such a large regatta.” – Head Coach Brian Elliott.
1st place medalists include Eva Gudet (2), Sophia Smith (2), Eden Doner (2), Mackenzie Dunn (2), Chloe Ryder (2), Mimi Chandler, Luca Paggetti, Liam Davis, Connor Zakin, Ben Sadler, Adrian Llorens, Jordan Ramacorti, Chloe Gudet, James Lamport, Leila Ackerman, Kaya Price, Henry Hutchinson, Thomas Forrest, Zurich Ronert and Carolina Ricci.
2nd place medalists include Eva Gudet, Luca Paggetti, Jordan Ramacorti, Patrick Frigo, Anthony Pace, Banyan Ackerman, Christian Smith, Eric Levine, Charles Stumm, and Jack Bell.
3rd place medals went to Mimi Chandler, Anthony Pace, Liam Kallop, and Myla Chance.
Pent-up demand to race after covid-related season racing cancellations in 2020, combined with beautiful weather, brought out a large number of clubs and spectators for this regatta. Nearly 80 NPBRC parents accompanied the team to Fellsmere. Middle school raced a 1-kilometer course while high school rowers raced 3.5km. NPBRC’s 56 rowers ranged in age from 10-17 years of age.
NPBRC rowers train daily on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Bert Winters Park, 13425 Ellison Wilson Rd., Juno Beach, FL 33408. Rowers come from a variety of local high schools and middle schools and include home-schooled athletes as well.
North Palm Beach Rowing Club athletes performed spectacularly in the 2021 Florida State Sculling Championships held April 10th, 2021, bringing home multiple gold medals and notching several other superb finishes. NPBRC’s Finnegan Yorty won gold in the lightweight boy’s single scull (1x). Finn will be off to Embry-Riddle this fall where he will study aeronautical engineering and be a member of the men’s crew team. Lara Jones, who trains with NPBRC but was rowing for her school, Pine Crest, also won gold in the junior women’s 1x. Sophia Smith was just three seconds behind in the same event, winning the bronze medal, while Arianna Sanchez placed eighth in a field crowded with talented athletes. Separately, NPBRC’s Chloe Gudet and Mackenzie Dunn placed fifth in the girls lightweight double sculls (2x).
All told, NPBRC qualified five boats to the finals despite a regatta wrought with weather delays and a condensed schedule that ultimately saw the final cancelled and medals awarded according to the results of time trials. Held annually in Sarasota, this year FSRA’s sculling championship saw 37 of the state’s top clubs compete in 22 separate events categorized by age, gender, weight, and boat size.
NPBRC crews train on the Intracoastal Waterway between US1’s Parker Bridge and Indiantown Road. Its rowers range from 8th grade middle-schoolers to high school and master’s rowers who are pushing 80 years old. Its facilities are at Bert Winters Park off Ellison Wilson Road, just south of Donald Ross Road. More information can be found on the club’s website at www.npbrc.com , or call (561) 691-0912.
Although the spring season was cut short due to COVID-19, youth rowers are still finding great ways to stay in shape through opportunities such as virtual erg races. Recently, NPBRC rowers Luca Janus, Finn Yorty, Hudson Hale, and Grafton Gore raced at the USRowing Virtual Southeast Youth Regional Championship. In order to participate in this event, a 2000m piece needed to be completed and submitted. The top-3 in each event qualify to move onto Virtual Youth Nationals, which brings together the top rowers from across the country. North Palm Beach rowers placed extremely well at Regionals, competing against juniors all across the Southeast region, which consists of 12 states. Luca placed 4th in the Youth 1x with a time of 6:43.1. Finn went a 6:48.6 to place 1st in the Youth Lightweight 1x, qualifying him for Nationals. And Hudson and Grafton competed in the Youth Lightweight 2x, placing 4th with an average time of 7:03.75.
NPBRC Rower Finnegan Yorty went on to earn the club’s highest-ever finish at a National Championship in June, winning silver in the Men’s Lightweight category at the 2020 virtual youth National Championships. Finn submitted a personal best time of 6:45.5, just three seconds off the gold medal time. Finn, who began rowing just three years ago and will graduate in 2021, will enter his senior year as one of the most sought-after youth rowers in the country.
Congratulations to all these young men for an exceptional performance this year!
This past Sunday, award-winning author and motivational speaker Arshay Cooper came to speak to the youth rowers in a socially distanced manner. As a former rower, he talked about how the sport of rowing changed his life. Growing up on the West Side of Chicago, Arshay witnessed things that kids should never have seen. But when he stumbled upon rowing by chance, he came to love the sport and the things he learned from it.
His story began in school when he saw a white boat in the cafeteria advertising the rowing team. He had no idea what it was, but after being convinced by some of his friends to join, he finally showed up to practice. Many of the people there had never been in the water before, but were willing to try rowing, a sport that most of them had never heard of before. But they learned how to erg, they learned how to row, and most importantly, they learned to be a team. Arshay and his teammates were able to bond over their love of rowing, putting aside their differences to row together in the boat. He spoke about how being a team and rowing in the same boat together brought a unified sense of calm and security where they didn’t have to worry about everything else going on in their lives. And although they faced challenges along the way, both physical and mental, their coach always said: you have to give what hurts. So they did. They showed the world that they could overcome adversity while doing what they loved.
Arshay became the captain of the first all African-American high school rowing team at Manley High School. His experiences motivated him to write his memoir, Suga Water and self-publish it in 2015 so he could raise awareness and help bring rowing into communities like his. Now, he is republishing his story with Macmillan, and the documentary “A Most Beautiful Thing” is set to come out on July 10th. Below is a brief interview with Arshay:
Q: What is your favorite part about rowing?
A: My favorite part of rowing is really the team aspect. Just being in a boat, moving together. And the bond outside of the boat, losing together, winning together, it’s a bond you create for life.
Q: What advice would you give to people who are new to the sport of rowing?
A: The opportunities for young people in the sport of rowing is the reason why people are sold on the sport. There are no pep rallies, there are no cheerleaders, but what you do find is people who show up every day because they get the chance to travel and scholarship opportunities. You have a lot of fun travelling, being in the water, and it’s a guarantee that you’ll be around those people for the rest of your life.
Q: What advice would you give to people who are seasoned rowers?
A: My coach said this to me, I’ll never forget it. He said: you have to give what hurts. So my advice for young people is that when you’re on the erg, and it’s getting tough, you have to understand that it hurts. No pain no gain. To see the results you want to see, you have to give what hurts. You have to train yourself mentally as much as physically.
Q: What motivated you to write a book about your experiences?
A: The lack of opportunities in communities like mine. You have a sport that wants more diversity, and then you have a neighborhood like mine with not many opportunities, so I wanted to bridge that gap.
Q: How has the diversity and inclusion in rowing changed from when you rowed to now?
A: It has gotten a little better, mainly in major cities like Chicago, New York, Philly. It just needs some more exposure but honestly I think that it can be a lot better. We just need more coaches that are passionate to see the sport diversify. It’s definitely a lot different now 20 years later, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Q: There is currently a waitlist for Concept 2 ergs. Do you think this quarantine will spur a new generation of rowers?
A: I think so. We don’t know in certain cities if you are going to be able to play contact sports, and the erg is perfect because you can sit 6ft apart and race virtually and compete against other teams. You can’t put tanks or boats in schools, but you can put ergs, and I think that’s the start of something great.
NPBRC Looks forward to hosting Mr. Cooper again soon!
Rowers Take a Virtual Trip to the Bahamas During Lockdown
JUNO BEACH – More than a dozen members of the North Palm Beach Rowing Club plan to make the lengthy trip from Bert Winters Park to the Bahamas from the comfort of their own homes.
As part of a virtual trip to the Bahamas designed by club staff, 18 middle school rowers are walking, biking, jogging, swimming and rowing their way toward Nassau, which is the trip’s end point.
The trip, which began April 8 and will include virtual stops in Miami, Marsh Harbor, Abaco Club, Glass Window Bridge and Atlantis Bahamas, was created by NPBRC coaches in an effort to teach students about the fundamentals of rowing and help them remain active and fit amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The club’s youth rowing programs were temporarily suspended March 15, while all other programs followed a week later.
“We wanted the virtual trip to help our middle school rowers, while at home, continue to remain active and fit while focusing on responsibility, teamwork and excellence — the qualities that will help them become well- rounded athletes,” said Kae Webber, NPBRC’s middle school coach.
Before the start of the trip, middle school rowers were asked to build a miniature rowing shell no longer than one foot long from materials they found at home.
They also were given 11 workouts that included a warm-up, varied race paces and rest.
The workouts equated to achieving “nautical units,” NPBRC Director Nancy Colaguori said. Every 25 minutes of exercise equaled 1 nautical unit. The trip will total 21 nautical units.
Miami – the first stop – totaled 5 nautical units.
Workouts could be completed on indoor rowing equipment, or any sports activity such as running, jogging, bicycle riding, or swimming.
Three students wrote letters to residents of a nursing home in their communities, Colaguori said.
The trip will end when the rowers reach their final destination at Nassau, Colaguori said. All participants will be awarded medals for completing the trip, which has been a big hit with student rowers.
“I love the virtual workout, because it gives me a fun goal to work on instead of just running and rowing for fitness,” said Cacki Pearsall, a Benjamin School student. “It feels like I’m actually going somewhere, but I really miss my crew.”
“Being quarantined hasn’t been so bad, because I’ve had time to bounce on my trampoline and do the virtual trip,” added Jason Childers, a Jupiter Middle School student.
The club will resume in-person rowing activities once it is safe to do so, Colaguori said.
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.
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.
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!