Annapolis rowers make debut on the Chester

The Chester River Rowing Club holds a three-seat lead over the Annapolis Rowing Club in the mixed eight race Sept. 8, while onlookers aboard the Chester River Packet have a bird’s-eye view. Shelagh Grasso is the coxswain for the locals. From stroke to bow are Zeke Zeneca, Tina Connelly, Richard Cookerly, Tom Schreppler, Celeste Conn, Tim Rhynalds, Linda Reed and Sue Collins. Washington College loaned out its Peter Tapke shell for use by the Annapolis rowers.

CHESTERTOWN — The Annapolis Rowing Club and host Chester River Rowing Club were friendly competitors on a late summer afternoon. Conditions were ideal Sept. 8 — flat water, little current and negligible boat traffic.

Sue Collins, president of CRRC, offered the Chester River as a venue to take the place of the Wye Island Regatta, a 13.1-mile race around the island that traditionally is held in early September.

The Annapolis Rowing Club, host of the Wye Island Regatta, cancelled the event this year due to safety and logistical challenges as Hurricane Dorian was making its way up the East Coast. “We will focus on events near Annapolis and will re-assess for 2020,” according to a posting on the ARC website.

Annapolis brought its gold medal-winning racing team, master coxswain and support personnel.

Chester River countered with veteran rowers Collins, Linda Reed, Celeste Conn, Andy Jackson, Richard Cookerly, Tom Schreppler, Tim Rhynalds, Zeke Zeneca and Stuart Barroll — among others.

John Wagner was the race master.

The mixed eight was the most exciting race of the day. With a quick start and strategic “power 10” called for by coxswain Shelagh Grasso, the locals won by a comfortable margin.

Chester River’s novice quad, led by Laura McKenzie, also was a winner.

However, Annapolis Rowing Club mastered the Chester River club in most events, showing off its considerable talent.

“But Holy Smokes, were they ever impressed with Washington College’s fabulous facilities, the gorgeous, unpopulated and unspoiled Chester River and our beautiful waterfront,” Conn said.

“But the day was more than that. It was about sportsmanship. Putting your best foot forward. Being nice to your competitors, and being grateful to host them,” she added.

The Annapolis rowers want to return.

“And we’ll be ready, oars in hand!” Conn said.

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