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Reflections from the Sound Rowers - La Conner Race on Feb 6th 2021.

The Sound Rowers and Paddlers’ Annual La Conner Race began as many events these days do: with a Zoom meeting. In order to comply with COVID guidelines and maximize social distancing, the race director hosted a virtual race meeting the night before. It worked well, and it was perhaps even more efficient than in-person race meetings are — especially the question and answer portion. The morning of, sufficiently fueled by popovers and jam, boathouse legend Peter Hirtle and I made the trek up to La Conner. We rigged our boats just next to the river, watching all of the trucks and vans trickle into the park. We launched about fifteen minutes before the race. The course was modified due to wind — we were to head north up the Swinomish slough for 4300m, make a 180 degree turn around a green can (something all rowers on Lake Washington are very accustomed to), and return south to the bridge. In comparison to sprint racing protocol, this open water start couldn’t have been more chill. There were several waves, organized by boat class and staggered every few minutes. Most people were chatting as they lined up. Several even missed their formal start. The race itself was challenging mostly due to the conditions, but that is, of course, what makes open water racing so fun. For the first half of the race, I rowed with the current and wind. For the second half, I rowed against the current and wind. This translated to a 60 second split difference according to my Speed Coach. Hilarious, and awesome. After returning to land and putting back on all of the layers that I had brought with me, Peter and I returned our timing chips and collected cups of soup from the small tent the race directors had set up. The time we are in right now is certainly painful and strange. Yet this race really didn’t feel too different from other races. There was still as much competition as there was camaraderie. I still got those pre-race jitters. In the last couple hundred meters of the race, I still found myself very much looking forward to the air horn sound signaling that my bow had crossed the finish line. I was delighted to feel that normalcy and conclude that this experience could remain constant and intact. Race Info: Results:

- Anna Beshlian

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