by Tom Utescher
For serious summer rowers, the culmination of their warm weather work is an early August trip to St. Catharines, Ontario to participate in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. Joining the migration northwards this year were a number of area oarswingers representing various clubs in and around Philadelphia.
Actually, one of the most successful of the locally-connected entrants never touched an oar during the actual racing. One year out of Mount St. Joseph Academy, Madi Kist won a Canadian Henley silver medal in the Senior Women’s Eight as coxswain of a vessel representing the Vesper Boat Club.
Kist, who just completed her freshman year at Stanford University, guided her group to a semifinal victory in six minutes, 48.707 seconds (2000-meter course), the second fastest time overall. The fastest semifinalist, a crew from Calgary, Alberta, won the finals over Vesper, although the Philly women dropped their time to 6:43. In the middle of July, three Kist-coxed Vesper boats won gold medals at the U.S. Rowing Club National Championships in Ohio.
Current high school rowers from the area were in three different boats in the Women’s Under-19 Quad event, where 50 crews were entered.
In the same initial heat were a Fairmount Rowing Association craft containing rising Germantown Academy senior Katie Aemisegger and Penn Charter junior Kelsey White, and a Vesper boat stroked by PC senior Sally Stanley. The top two finishers would move on to the semifinal round, and the Fairmount group made the cut, placing second in 7:33.802, while the Vesper crew was fifth in 7:39.578.
In another Vesper quad in a different heat, Stanley’s PC classmate Jean Gleason and her colleagues came in fourth in 8:04.310. Advancing to the semifinals, Aemisegger and White’s Fairmount boat missed the finals by one place, coming in third in their race at 7:38.237. Only the top two in each semifinal got to move on.
Stanley’s crew also bumped up to race in the Under-23 age category. Their time of 7:33.822 in the heat racing left them one spot shy of a semifinal berth.
White and Aemisegger were busy elsewhere, as well. The GA senior was part of a Fairmount Under-19 Double that finished fourth in one of 11 opening-round heats in that event. Only the top two in each section could move on, although the Fairmount tandem’s time of 8:16.989 was faster than those of four semifinalists who came out of other heats.
PC’s White, a year younger than her GA colleague, raced in the Under-17 Double and Under-17 Quad categories for Fairmount. Her quad made it out of the first round, coming in third in its heat (in 8:05.340) in an event where three boats advanced to the semifinals. They then placed sixth in the second of the two semifinal races. White’s double missed the cut for semifinals by one place, finishing third when only the top two could move on. They hit the wire in 8:44.448, a better figure than those posted by six semifinalists.
Also representing Fairmount at the regatta was rising senior Becca Genyk, who rows when she races for Germantown Friends School but in this instance was serving as coxswain for an Under-19 Four. In this class the top three boats in each heat made the semifinal round, and the GFS-guided boat fell just short, coming in fourth in its section in 8:17.647. Her crew saw five boats with slower times in other heats move on.
On of the greatest discrepancies in heat times and places in the entire regatta came in the Under-19 Women’s Double, where GA senior Bri Owen was racing in one of 11 initial heats. Third in their race, Owen and her Vesper partner missed the semifinal cut by one place as they clocked in at 7:59.960. No fewer than 17 boats in other heats had slower times, but still made it into the semifinals.
Two former GA oarswomen were in Ontario racing for the Conshohocken Rowing Center. Kate Horvat (’14) and Jess Zettlemoyer (’15) competed together and separately in the singles and doubles categories in the Under-23 age bracket. Their destiny in the double paralleled that of the younger Patriot, Owen. They needed to place third or higher in their heat to reach the semi’s and instead finished fourth in 7:47.504, while slower times got 14 other duos to the next stage of the regatta.
Horvat, a rising Yale sophomore, did not complete her opening singles race, while Zettlemoyer, who’s entering Boston College, narrowly missed the cut to get out of the heats, placing fourth in her race.
A month earlier Pete Seymour, a 2004 graduate of Chestnut Hill Academy, had been racing in an eight for the University Barge Club over at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. For the Canadian spin-off, he was on his own in a single, representing the Undine Barge Club. In one of six heats in the Senior Men’s Single, he got through to the next round with a second-place showing in 7:42.259. His run ended in the semifinals, where he was fifth in a fast race. clocking in at 7:35.010.
Seymour also entered the Men’s Championship Single and the Men’s Single Dash (a special 500-meter event). In an exclusive field in the former race, he finished in 7:41.412 and wound up fourth in one of three semifinals. In the dash he made it through to the finals, where he took fifth place overall.