US whaleboaters take home some Aussie style

WARRNAMBOOL’s tactical whaleboat starts may be adopted in US races after a visiting American team praised the Australian Whale Boat Championship’s efficiency.

The US team, the Golden State Rowers, rowed in the one-day competition at the Hopkins River on February 17 in a field of about 20 south-west teams.

Golden State Rowers team member Monica Foote is a Bay Area Whaleboat Rowing Association (BAWRA) board member. BAWRA oversees regular San Francisco bay area races, which begin either with a standing or staggered start, in which boats are sent off one or two minutes apart and timed.

When the American team competed in Warrnambool four years ago, the starts were a floating (standing) start which changed to a rolling start a couple of years ago.

“You guys have a 30-second horn and then a 15-second horn and then the start horn,” Ms Foote said. “If you cross the line before that start horn it’s a 40-second penalty.

“However, if you’re close to it then you’re on the running.

“Somebody said ‘we need to recommend this to BAWRA’. I said ‘I’m on the board I’ll bring it up at the next meeting’.” 

“It’s a different concept and I like the idea of being able to take that back and say ‘Hey guys, we’ve never seen this before, has it ever been considered’? Who knows, some of the clubs might say ‘we’ll try that in our races’. 

Flagstaff Hill service manager and co-organiser of the event Helen Sheedy said Warrnambool championship organisers had also adopted some of the American race ideas after their visit to the US. 

“We took so much away from their event that we’ve implemented. That’s why it’s good to build up these relationships, you get new ideas,” Sheedy said.

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