BA-B rowers head to local and international summer competitions

The Bromfield Acton-Boxborough rowing team does not take the summer off. Crews trade their blue and white unisuits for neon and tie-dye and race under their parent name—Bare Hill Rowing Association. BA-B rowers and coxswains who chose to stay on kept busy through July and August with hours of training daily on the pond and three regattas in Cambridge, Philadelphia, and St. Catharines, Ontario. They traveled hundreds of miles and won a few medals, but “More importantly,” says program director Holly Hatton, “they improved their rowing skills and gained valuable experience rowing in small boats.”

From left: Rowers Anna Shlimak, Kaylee Liu, Katherine Fay, and Summer Maxwell hoist coxswain Chloe Kranz after winning the silver medal in the Cromwell Cup Regatta on the Charles River in Cambridge. (Courtesy photo)

First, two dozen of them plied the Charles River at the 16th annual Cromwell Cup Regatta hosted by the Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge Sunday, July 14. It’s a 1,000-meter race between Weeks Bridge and Magazine Beach. Six hundred competitors aged 16 to over 70 years old participated. On a picture perfect day, two BA-B crews won gold—Christopher Clark in the boys single, and Anna Shlimak, Kaylee Liu, Summer Maxwell, Katherine Fay, and coxswain Chloe Kranz in the girls 4.

Just six days later, the crews blazed up the Schuylkill River at the Philadelphia Youth Regatta, where temperatures reached 103 degrees in the shade. Race organizers shortened the course from 1,500 to 1,000 meters to mitigate the conditions. Clubs from up and down the East Coast entered boats in the competition. Shlimak won gold and Liu took bronze in the single, and the girls 4 came away with silver.

For the big finale, parent volunteer Laura Fay of Acton drove 10 athletes to St. Catharines, Ontario, for the 137th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, stopping to snap souvenir photos at Niagara Falls on the way. Racing 2,000 meters every day from August 6 to 10, the Bare Hill gang battled boats from around the world; crews from South Africa had traveled the farthest. Thunderstorms forced the Canadian hosts to change race schedules multiple times.

The team crossed back over the border empty-handed, which is not unusual—the RCHR awards gold medals and nothing else, and the level of competition is very high. It’s considered a big accomplishment just to make it to the semifinals, since most events have fields of 40 to 60 boats. Making the finals is an even bigger deal. Bare Hill boats that advanced to the semifinals included the girls U19 single and U19 4. The team’s best result was a fourth-place finish in the finals for Shlimak and Maxwell rowing as a pair.

Learn-to-row coach Alison Thornton was there to volunteer at the regatta and to cheer on her daughter, rising Bromfield junior Arianna Thornton, who competed in two doubles, a pair, and the 8. “The rain and thunderstorms were frustrating, but handled well by both the regatta organizers and the team,” she said. “And what a great group of kids representing Bare Hill.” Hatton, the rowing program director and head coach of the varsity girls, agreed. “It was a great trip,” Hatton said. “Every athlete did a super job, from our first-time scullers at an international race to our more veteran racers. The experience brought them closer as a team. Everyone cared about how each athlete did in their racing, and it was abundantly shown by the group.”

The full team will re-form and start training at the end of August for the fall racing season. Fall registration is now open at barehillrowing.com for all levels: sixth- and seventh-grade Learn-to-Row programs that meet three days a week; eighth-grade sculling, practicing four days a week; and the competitive team of returning novice and varsity rowers.

Jill Maxwell is the parent of two BA-B rowers.

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