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Racing Kicks Off in Sarasota

by Courtney Fritts, courtney@usrowing.org | Aug 15, 2013
SARASOTA, Fla. – Racing began Thursday morning at Nathan Benderson Park for the first 50 events of 2013 USRowing Masters Nationals Championships hosted by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, Sarasota and Manatee Counties and Benderson Development.

SARASOTA, Fla. – Racing began Thursday morning at Nathan Benderson Park for the first 50 events of 2013 USRowing Masters Nationals Championships hosted by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, Sarasota and Manatee Counties and Benderson Development.

With the start of racing at 8:00 a.m., Florida governor Rick Scott visited the venue to show his support of rowing and start the four-day event.

Racing began with heats of the men’s A single sculls, continued through the day’s only semifinal, the men’s F single sculls and followed with finals of 50 events at Benderson Park.

Vesper Boat Club’s Shannon Kaplan, who finished second in the World Championship Trials in 2011, is racing in six events this weekend and succeeded in her first of the regatta, winning gold in the women’s AA single sculls.

“I just love rowing and I didn’t want to become someone who people say, ‘she used to be fast,’” Kaplan said. “I decided to retire from elite rowing and do masters rowing. I’m very excited about masters and hopefully there will be a lot coming from Vesper this weekend.”

For many masters rowers, making the trip to Florida was hardly a decision. For others, it was a long journey. And for Canadian rower John Pauls, he said he “wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

“I came mostly to visit my daughter and son-in-law here, but I also love racing USRowing Masters Nationals, because it’s the best masters regatta that you can find in North America,” Pauls said. “I’ve been to the last eight straight masters nationals. I don’t miss them.”

Pauls won the men’s E single sculls title and will row other four events over the course of the regatta for Ridley Graduate Boat Club of St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada.

“I’m really just looking forward to racing with guys I raced with last year,” Pauls said. “This event is usually the only time we get together in quads. We don’t practice; we just jump in the boat to race and it seems to work.”

With 199 events throughout the regatta and many rowers racing in up to six events, the weekend is all about racing with friends, meeting up with old friends and enjoying some down time in south Florida.

In the mixed B four, sisters at Miami Rowing and Watersports Center, Kathy Wojtas and Megan Mellinger won a silver medal.

“This race was a great warm up for us,” Wojtas said. “We’re happy with silver and the weather is great.”

Her sister agreed.

“Our race went well,” Mellinger said. “We had a lot of fun. The regatta is on time and the venue itself is very impressive.”

Nathan Benderson Park, which is awaiting a bid from the FISA Congress to host the World Rowing Championships in 2017, has world-class facilities in place for masters nationals. A wind attenuation wall, which helps block waves and wind on the seven-lane course, also serves as a vehicle path for the camera crew’s car to follow racing.

Racing will resume at 8:00 a.m. Friday with heats and finals for events 51-100.

Races will be live-streamed on USRowing’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/usrowingorg.

For a full listing of results, visit: http://www.usrowing.org/Events/MastersNationals/2013MastersNatResults.aspx

For full event press coverage and photo galleries, visit: http://www.usrowing.org/Events/MastersNationals/2013MastersNatPress.aspx

For full event information, visit: http://www.usrowing.org/Events/MastersNationals.aspx

About USRowing

USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, EMCVenues, Connect-A-Dock, JanSport, Rudy Project and Boathouse Sports. For more information, visit www.usrowing.org. The USRowing National Team program relies on strong partnerships to enable continued success. New opportunities exist to support the teams through the next quadrennial, culminating with the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. America Rows, which supports diversity in rowing and the USRowing adaptive programs also benefit from corporate support. Free basic membership and championship level membership to USRowing is available and encouraged. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at beth@usrowing.org.


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