Ever seeking new challenges, Mary Jane McManus, Jackie Duval and Barbara Belanger of the Buzzards Bay Rowing Club participated in not only one, but two grueling rowing events in the space of one week. On February 24th, along with John Mc Coy, and their “coaches”, they headed up to Boston for the C.R.A.S.H. B Indoor Rowing World Championships. Facing off on Concept 2 rowing machines against rowers from the United States, Europe and Australia they pushed themselves to the limits over a 2000 meter race course and although they didn’t set any world records, they did manage to bring home a medal. All agreed that it was an incredible experience and plan to return next year, vowing next time to begin their training earlier than January!

Six days later, on March first, the three women, joined their colleagues as members of two women’s whaleboat teams fielded by the BBRC and drove up to Hull, MA for the infamous Snow Row, a triangular 3 ¾ course out to, and around Sheep Island, and back..

The morning of the race was raw with a wintery mix of snow, sleet and rain, and by the time the ladies got the boats into the water and rowed to their starting point on the Windmill Point beach they were soaked through. However, after a quick change into dry clothes, they were ready, and at the starting horn, raced across the sand, scrambled into their boats, outted the oars and headed for the marker at the turnaround almost two miles away. Thanks to the expert maneuvering of coxswain Michael Suominen at the start, the women’s Pro-Am team was able to get a slight lead before being passed by the Buzzards, a men’s whaleboat team from Whaling City, and then, by the Dragons, a coed team from the BBRC. With all 50 of the craft now in the water, the water along the course began to resemble a mosaic as pastel colored kayaks and multicolored gigs and workboats formed continuous kaleidoscope – like patterns, weaving and bobbing in and out of the waves, as they fought for position in their respective categories.

Any thoughts of cold or wind were put on the back burner as the two women’s teams, with never more than a few boat lengths separating them, bent their oars, fighting tooth and nail for dominance on their way to the finish The Pro-Am team, on an adrenalin high, was well aware that with any slacking of the pace, the Margaret’s team could and would put on a surge and pass them in an instant; but, giving no quarter, and in the end, elated, they prevailed with only twenty-two seconds separating the two.

There are no prizes given in this race, and unlike this year’s relatively calm conditions, the wind, cold and waves can be formidable. Yet, the paddlers and rowers come back year after year from as far away as Vermont , Maine and even the UK to test their endurance and skill in this signature event that supports the Hull Lifesaving Museum.

Why one may ask? If not for the thrill of the race or the camaraderie, it’s got to be the great chowdah.!

The Teams:

Margarets Oars:
Fairhavenites, Jody Smith (coxswain), Jackie Duval, Kathy Knutsen, Gail Isaksen and Anne Cook of Dartmouth - Time 41:50

ProAm Team: MJ McManus, Acushnet; Deb Gabriel, New Bedford, Heidi Hacking and Barbara Belanger, Fairhaven; Nancy Anderson, Tiverton; Michael Suominen coxswain, Wareham - Time 41:28

Dragons: Dan and Alex Georgianna, Jeff Moore, Fairhaven; Karen Gravel, Dartmouth and Laura Anderson, Mattapoisett -Time 39:08

Buzzards, Whaling City Rowing: - Time 37:41