The Vinalhaven Rowing Club held its annual Rowing Banquet on Jan.11.The event honored the Vinalhaven Middle School and High School rowing teams and served as a time for the club to reflect on the past year. Five members of the high school rowing team were awarded varsity letters for their participation in rowing: Ansel Andrews, Hillary Bunker, Chad Guilford, Ethan Warren and Katilynn Willis.

While the Maine Principals’ Association does not yet recognize rowing, Vinalhaven High School considers it a varsity sport. Last November the Vinalhaven High School rowing team won the North East Regional Open-Water Youth Rowing Championship (the Icebreaker) for the second year in a row. Winning last year was an unspoken dream-come-true.

Going into the 2005 Icebreaker “we hoped we were going to do that well again,” said sophomore coxswain Chad Guilford, “but I don’t know if we had any expectations.” The Vikings entered the exact same team in the first sixes division this year as they did last year, but according to head coach Mark Jackson, the competition was stiffer this year.

“We thought it would be easier than it was,” he said. “It was a hard-fought win this year, and that made it a more satisfying win.”

The Vikings’ combined time for all four heats was about one minute faster this year than last, a testament to the benefits of having a consistent roster. In fact, Jackson will not be losing any of his rowers to graduation this year, so he stands a good chance of taking the same team to the Icebreaker for a third time in 2006.

Another notable aspect of this year’s Icebreaker was the Fox Island team–comprised of Vinalhaven and North Haven rowers — entered in the second sixes division.

The Fox Island team won their division without ever having practiced together before the competition. Jackson said with pride that they experienced a “steep learning curve” throughout the course of the event.

Middle school rowers were awarded certificates of participation and were congratulated on a successful season. They participated in two events with Station Maine, of Rockland, one in Vinalhaven and one in Rockland. The young Vikings finished their season 3-0.

Now that it is the middle of winter, most of the student rowers are involved in the basketball season one way or another. However, there is always a rowing blip on the radar. This time of year, that blip is the upcoming annual indoor rowing competition sponsored by the Vinalhaven Rowing Club. The event is fashioned after the famous CRASH-B’S World Indoor Rowing Championship held each winter in Massachusetts, in which individuals compete on rowing machines or ergometers.

Junior rower Oakley Jackson has participated in the Vinalhaven event for two years. He likes the physical test and enjoys the competition between him and his friends. Sam Rosen is a sophomore rower who also participates in the indoor competition. “Everybody has to work together in the boat,” he said, “but on the ergs it’s just you. In the boat you can’t tell who is pulling what, but this can be individual competition between teammates.”

For a team that obviously works so well together, a little inner-team competition can’t hurt one bit.