News and Results

Iron Oars Regatta - September 21, 2014

posted Sep 24, 2014, 6:51 PM by Nick Saur   [ updated Sep 24, 2014, 6:55 PM ]

This years Iron Oars regatta in Negaunee was hardly classifiable as a 'regatta' because of the treacherous weather, cancelling most of the races. First year novice Tim Billmans was one of the few and fortunate - or unfortunate - to race on Sunday. He reminisces:

Saturday, September 20th: It’s the day before the 9th Annual Iron Oars Regatta on Teal Lake in Negaunee Michigan Tech Crew loads the trailer with 8 boats, well organized riggers and oars, and high spirits for the first race of the season available to novices. Just a few weeks of prior training for novices will have to be enough for their first race. With very minimal experience, rowing all 8 at once is a concern but a challenge that must be faced.

Sunday, September 21st: It is now race day and an early, 5 a.m. departure means sleeping in the car for those who aren’t driving. Once the team arrives in Negaunee the conditions look pretty bleak. The thick, wet air imitates rain making Tech’s Crew bundle up in warm clothes and rain gear as they work quickly and efficiently to get all the boats rigged. The weather doesn’t look good but it could be worse right? Right, and worse the weather got. After the launch and race of the 2X with Parry Ragland and Matt Wong, it comes time for the Men’s Novice 8 to row an official race for the first time. As they warm up most realize a lack of flip-flops/ sandals was a mistake they won’t make twice as they run on the rocky asphalt. Once in the water and underway, the exceptionally uncomfortable crew realizes that the seats have been put on backwards. One by one the seats are flipped around as they warm up across the whole length of Teal lake. Coach Terry Smythe watches from the start line as the boat lines up to start.

“All 8 to the finish. Ready, Row,” said coxswain Claira Hart as the boat takes off with the first stroke.

After a shaky start, the balance power of the rowers begins to show, at least for novices. A calm stretch combined with encouragement and critique from Hart causes the boat to stay relatively set. Once out on the bigger part of the lake, the water begins to get choppy. Oars splash fellow rowers as they nick the top of the waves, a crab is caught, and at least one wave manages to crest the gunnel getting everyone wet. With all that was going on the rowers kept their heads in the boat, kept calm, and soldiered on.

“Way enough,” said Hart once the boat sped past the final buoy.

Teal Lake’s wind didn’t give up as the ‘Charlie’ came to shore other of Techs crew members welcomed the first time racers back. It was a well done race by all considering the treacherous conditions. In fact, the conditions were so bad that the all of the following races were cancelled. Although the rest of the races were cancelled not all was lost; rigging experience was had, the crew worked all together, and for those that did go out, a plethora of experience was learned. Coach Terry gave an uplifting talk after and was proud of those that did manage to get out today, especially considering the weather.

More pictures can be found under the 'Photos and Videos' tab. 

Off of Death Row - September 14, 2014

posted Sep 19, 2014, 10:41 AM by Nick Saur   [ updated Sep 22, 2014, 7:42 PM ]

Parry Ragland, a senior rower for MTU, recaptures the weekend of Death Row:

The Death Row Regatta is a mass start 25 kilometer race held in Duluth Minnesota, following the narrow and winding St. Louis river along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. This event is hosted each year by the Duluth Rowing club, and is comprised of 20-40 rowing shells of all shapes and sizes. 
For the 2014 race, Michigan Tech entered 2 boats who were up for the challenge of a 2 hour long race with the rowing season barely underway. The two boats were a Men's Varsity four ( 4+), rowed by Ian Mcgrew, TJ Lyle, James Dunn, and Tyler Kuyper, with Claira Hart as there coxswain and fearless leader. The second boat was a lightweight double (2X), rowed by Parry Ragland and Matt Wong. 

The Death Rowers from left to right: Coxswain Claira Hart, Ian McGrew, James Dunn, TJ Lyle, Tyler Kuyper, Matt Wong, Parry Ragland.

When the skeleton crew arrived in Duluth the evening before the race, spirits were down as we watched large waves and brisk winds whip across the bay where the race was set to begin the following morning. To worsen our moods, the weather forecast predicted increasing winds with a high chance of rainstorms. Nevertheless, our crew ignored the seemingly inevitable obstacles, and mentally prepared ourselves for the next morning.

The crew woke at 6am, and gathered around the kitchen to devise our strategy against the worsening weather conditions while huddling over our peanut butter filled oatmeal. Once at the racecourse, we readied our equipment and waited for the regatta officials to instruct us on race-course procedure.

At the last minute before the race, regatta officials made a decision to change to the race to the opposite side of the island because growing winds created water conditions were becoming unsafe to launch crews. The new course was located on the opposite side of the narrow island, taking advantage of the island to provide some cover from the wind, this also meant that crews would now be competing on open lake Superior on a large circuit course roughly 17 kilometers in length. 

At roughly 8am, boats wade into the crisp Superior water to launch, and crews take a few minutes to warm up and align themselves for the mass start of the race. Soon regatta officials reign in all of the crews, everything from Singles to eights, and fire a cannon to signify the start of the race. Immediately chaos ensued because significant crosswind off the shoreline was pushing boats to collide one-another. But soon enough, crews got themselves clear of the start-line. The masters quad (4X) from Duluth rowing club, and the Michigan tech double (2X) took of in 1st and second respectively, while the Varsity four (4+) was among the chaotic start and trailed slightly.

Soon as crews settled into their race plans and Michigan Tech Varsity four sought to make up for lost time, as the Double continued press for the leading position. By the first turn of the circuit, the Varsity four had regained 2 positions, and the double remained at a stalemate. The next stretch of the race was approximately a 10 kilometer stretch parallel to the beach, but further away from the shoreline leaving crews exposed to the now harsh cross-wind. The varsity four continued strong on their race plan, competing with another Double from Long lake rowing club that lagged not far behind, while the Michigan tech double ever so slowly began to pass the Duluth quad, eventually gaining the lead just before the second and final turn of the circuit. With only 5 kilometers to go, both boats pulled themselves together to pick up the pace and  battle the challenging conditions created by the cross wind. Only 20 minutes after that, the Michigan Tech double is the first to cross the line with a time of 1:16:01, followed by the Duluth Masters Quad with a time of 1:17:18.

The Michigan tech varsity four captured 5th place overall, leading the Long lake Double by slightly over a minute.
With the race complete, a feeling of happiness was in the air, as competitors socialize and celebrate during the awards ceremony as crews wait to attack the potluck style dinner, laden with deserts. After appetites were satisfied, crews pack up the equipment and prepare for the travels home.

In recap, Michigan Tech had a great weekend competing in the Death row regatta, capturing a 1st and 5th overall positions, surely thanks to the help of our head coach Terry Smythe, keeping rowers company during the race in paper-cutout form as she was unable to attend the event this year. We were thankful to have great support from Duluth Rowing club and the Lyle family who graciously provided housing and food for the Michigan tech crew. The club hopes to return again next year and strive to defend the title.

More pictures of Death Row can be found in the 'Photos and Videos' tab. 

Welcome Back!

posted Sep 5, 2014, 5:55 AM by Matthew Wong   [ updated Sep 24, 2014, 6:55 PM by Nick Saur ]

The start of the season is underway.  Classes started on Tuesday, and so did morning practice for the returners.  We were lucky to get three days of great water to get oars back in hand, working on the key parts to the stroke.  With the returning varsity members, we were able to send out a men's V8+, a men's V4+ and a women's V4+.  

Just like every practice, we start in the dark at 6am, but sometimes we get to see the sun rise.  Here the women's 4+ is headed back to the dock after a solid day on the water.

The focus for this week was to get some muscle memory back into each seat, working on quick hands, controlled recovery, and keeping the boat set.  Here the men's V8+ breaks it down into 4s, using wide-grip to keep the shoulders inline with the pin.

And when everything falls into place, you can just feel it.

The weather doesn't always cooperate in Houghton, and when those days roll around, we are forced land-side, working on the erg, or getting in some strength-building.  Here the team heads to the SDC to work on some circuits.

Hopefully our great start to the season is a sign for good things to come.  Stay tuned for our first regatta in Marquette, MI: Iron Oars.  

Success at the 111th NWIRA Championships

posted Aug 12, 2014, 9:48 AM by Matthew Wong   [ updated Sep 7, 2014, 10:30 AM ]

Parry Ragland and I headed to Kenora, Ontario to race in the lightweight singles and doubles events.  This regatta marked the end of the summer sprint season for us, complete with a 2km buoyed course on Rabbit Lake.

Day 1 
Parry and I drew different heats, with Parry drawing heat 1, and I 2.  The first heat has a strong line-up, and Parry made the most of it, crossing the line first, finishing in a time of 8:04.7, and advancing with Regina and Minnesota to the final.  In heat two, I finished 3rd behind Regina and Minnesota (Michigan Tech Alum, Tim Wong) in 8:10.4, also advancing.  Finals for the singles were scheduled for the afternoon, with the possibility for any one of the 6 to take the win.

The final got underway with a clean start from everyone, and was even through 250m.  I began to grow a lead on Regina at 500m which continued to grow to the 1000m mark.  I made another move through 1500m, gaining water on the others, narrowly able to hold off for the win (8:01.6) with Parry and Regina finishing right behind (8:02.9 and 8:03.6 respectively).  Alum Tim Wong finished the final in 5th place as he represented Minnesota Boat Club.

Day 2 events included the Men's Lightweight Dash and Men's Lightweight Double.  Again, Parry drew heat 1, a full heat with rowers from Minnesota, Saskatoon, and Long Lake.  Parry suffered from an unfortunate start which left him several boat lengths behind.  Although he was able to put some serious time on the other boats, it was barely not enough to advance in the top 3, finishing in 1:26.3, 3.7 seconds behind the winner, Tech Alum Tim Wong (Minnesota).  I was a little more fortunate on my heat draw, and had only 4 other rowers from Minnesota, Regina, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg.  With a clean start, I was able to cross 2nd in 1:24.8, enough to advance to the finals.  Lightweight sculling finals (1x dash and 2x) were scheduled for later in the evening.  

I had another good start in the dash final, and ended up finishing 5th in 1:26.7, behind brother and Alum Tim (Minnesota) in 4th.

The highlight of the weekend was in the Men's Lightweight Double, where we teamed up for a chance to take the win.  With a great start, and decent water, we were able to grow a good lead over the Minnesota, Regina, and Long Lake doubles by 500m.  We continued to gain water over the rest of the course, and finished first in 7:11.9.

Overall a successful weekend for Michigan Tech scullers Wong and Ragland, as they were able to take home two trophies.

Results can be found here at Regatta Master Reporting Service.

Myself with the Theordore Dubois (1960) trophy for the lightweight single

Parry and I with the A.O. "Sox"€™ Whiteside (1948) trophy for the men's lightweight double

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