Hundreds compete in Petaluma rowing competition

An eight-woman crew cut through the waters of Petaluma River on Sunday and quickly gained on another eight-woman boat.

But just as they charged ahead in near-perfect unison, the other team showed a surge of energy in a noontime heat of the Wine Country Rowing Classic off Shollenberger Park.

For the next 1,500 meters, as soon as one stern lurched forward, the other heaved and pushed ahead, with dueling coxswains urging them on.

Wine Country Rowing Classic


"This is called emptying the tank," said chief referee Dave Hayes, 59, of Santa Rosa, who rode behind the teams in a skiff.

"There's something about moving next to somebody," said course marshal Ned Orrett, 63, manning the outboard motor.

"Everyone starts pulling a little bit harder," Hayes said.

The Petaluma-based North Bay Rowing Club hosted 558 athletes from 27 rowing clubs for the seventh annual Wine Country Rowing Classic.

Teams raced for 5,000 meters on the tidal slough, a winding course that ended just before the Petaluma Marina.

Athletes came from 20 cities in four states. The youngest rower was 14; the oldest in his 70s, Hayes said.

Most boats finished with times of 17 to 24 minutes.

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