Humboldt Bay Rowing Association

Eureka, CA

USRowing Southwest Juniors District Championships


All of the hard work, extra practices, and heavy race schedule leads to one event each year and it finally arrived this last weekend. While being relieved to have the big race completed, Coach Gibson says, "I am relieved, surprised it has already come and gone and sad that it is over all at the same time."  It is a feeling reflected by most of the rowers as well.  "It has been a great season, and I am sorry it is my last, but I am really proud of what our team has accomplished this year," says graduating senior Arcata High student Henry Pennelosa.  It was a good year and this last event showcased much of the teams progress.  District Championships pit the fastest boats of 39 clubs from California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, against one another in 36 different event over three days.  Each event has a progression from heats to finals and in the varsity events the top three finishers qualify for entry into the USRowing Youth National Championships in June.  There is a lot on the line for many of the teams at the event.




Regularly hot and dry, Lake Natoma in Sacramento was uncharacteristically a nice cool and often rainy 70 degrees with moments of sun throughout the weekend.  Racing started with time trials for the oversubscribed events Friday afternoon.  For HBRA that meant the boys quad with 24 entries and the boys double with 39 entries raced in the time trial format against the clock, one boat at a time, to determine the top 14 boats that would continue onto semi-finals.


The quad, with good but mixed results all year, had a very good time trial but came up just short against some extremely good boats.  They took 15th and were done for the weekend.  The boys were disappointed with the result but not the row.  "Its a fast field and everyone knows it, we were just happy to have such a good row," says NPA Junior Isaac Murphy.


Isaac got another chance in the boys double just one hour later.  They boys had another good row in a boat that has had great results all year.  This time they were able to take 11th and move into semi-finals on Sunday.  Knowing that they are significantly better in head to head races then in time trials, the boys were looking forward to that race.




The girls novice quad started the day off with their heat.  Lead by temporary coxswain Nathan Shapiro the girls stuck with a very fast pack six lanes across but came in sixth.  They were disappointed by their row feeling that is lacked the set they were normally used to and did not have the power they wanted.  The coaching staff all agreed that they looked fantastic coming across the line and stressed that the heat was exceptionally fast so they should be very proud of how they hung in.


Issac rowed his single down the course in the heats looking very relaxed at about 80% pressure in second place.  First place rower Thomas Beck from Waterford came off the water proclaiming , "Isaac is a monster! He is the fastest for sure," having apparently noticed that Isaac was just cruising along conserving energy for the final race of the day.  Unfortunately there is more to rowing then just going fast.  In the finals Isaac had a nice start and was right with the pack but having steering problems with the boat (a known issue that has been difficult to address, but it is still our best boat).  He ended up drifting to the port side of the lane and clipped a buoy with his oar.  The force was enough to disrupt his rowing and caused him to flip his boat.  He quickly got back in but the race was done.  Knowing that he rowed in at a relaxed pace conserving his energy for the next race he would be in.  As he crossed the line in sixth place he rowed on the square.  Yes, he certainly is a very good rower.  He just had a bit of a bad day.  Mostly Isaac is disappointed he did not get to have that race with these rowers.  He had been looking forward to it all year long.  He will be back next year to win this event.


The girls lightweight double has just gotten better and better every time they row together and proved once again that just because your a novice, that doesn't mean you can't be really, really fast.  Varstiy rower Emma Harris and novice rower Ariel Vergen took off with the leaders and hung tight with the second and third placed boats all the way down the course.  They held their position to the end but not without pushing the boats in front a bit with some great moves in the middle of the race.  The girls came off the water impressed with their own strength and feeling very good about what they will be able to do next year.


The boys lightweight double drew the fastest heat of the day and finished sixth.  Their goal was to be able to beat one boat but looking at times of the heats they clearly beat four boats, just not in their own heat.  The boys rowed across that line looking well seasoned and confident in their strokes just not nearly as strong as the other boats.  They were still happy with their row and being the ultralight-weights they are (roughly 20 lbs under the limit) they are eager to put on some more muscle over the summer and come back to destroy the field next year.




The rain had stopped and the sun even came out to play by the last event of the weekend, the men's doubles.  The semi-finals were going to be fast but Isaac and Henry wanted to pull out all the stops and give everything they had left into this race, determined to try to get into grand finals.  Top three would go to finals.  The top four boats leapt off the line right from the start.  HBRA was right in line with the front at the start.  Slowly sliding back into fourth but all boats remained in contact.  At 1000 meter mark they had about a boat of open water on 5th place and were trading seats with third.  With 500 to go they were about half a boat down on third place from Tempe and getting ready for a really big sprint.  At the sprint they started to creep back on Tempe who saw HBRA coming and fought hard to maintain their position.  The HBRA boys came in just 2 second behind, just a deck, and their day was done.  It was not a race to be disappointed about though and the boys were all smiles when they got back to the dock stating, "that was our best."  That was also Henry's last race with the team as he will be heading off to St. Marry's next year.  He will be missed.


In all there was some great racing this weekend.  The team was hoping for a bid to Nationals again this year, but will need to wait for next year.  There has been a tremendous amount of growth in the team and everyone is looking forward to what they can do in the future.


Special Thanks to our team photographer for this race, HBRA President, Jerry Simone, for recording the event.



Isaac in the single

Good to be at Championships

Boy's Double powering down the course

Girls Lightweight Double rowing strong

Always something to fix when nerves are high

Girls Novice Quad fighting to the finish line

Pulling so hard we can't look straight

Poor Coach Lissa, don't ever stand between rowers Scott and Isaac

Office time

Coach Amanda walks the novice through control commission

Maybe a quick game of candy crush

I think I got the correct oar this time

Just waiting

Boys Lightweight double flexing a little muscle

"Your not seriously gonna take this picture are you"

Boys Quad on Friday

Lucky socks?

Ohhhh, so close

Tough fight to the finish

Isaac does not want his double partner to graduate


Humboldt Bay Rowing Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of rowing for community members of all ages and abilities. HBRA is located in the Adorni Center and the HSU Boathouse on the Eureka Waterfront. Please call 707.677.3214 for further information.