They’re calling it the Maine State Championships, even though Yarmouth and Waynflete are the only high schools in the state with rowing programs, and Yarmouth’s program is technically affiliated with a local club rather than the school itself.

So when three dozen athletes from Yarmouth and a similar number from Waynflete line up on the Fore River today for a series of 1,500-meter sprints in shells with four rowers and a coxswain, bragging rights and pride are up for grabs.

“We count it as a real one,” said Waynflete Coach C.C. Stockly, who doubles as president of the Yarmouth Rowing Club. “It’s a lot of fun. We basically go to all the same regattas, so we race them a lot over the course of the season.”

Saturday’s regatta, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., will be the fourth of the season for Yarmouth and Waynflete, whose programs are both fewer than 10 years old. The Flyers began rowing in 2002, the Clippers in 2007.

“It’s such a cool sport,” said Yarmouth Coach Amy Smith. “You have these fiery little freshman girls telling these burly senior boys what to do, and they actually listen. It’s a good lesson for everybody.”

Both teams have raced in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Another regatta is scheduled for next weekend in Malden, Mass., but not all of the seven crews each school fields will attend.

Nine members of Waynflete’s team hail from other schools in Greater Portland, including four from Scarborough, two from Falmouth and one each from Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Gray-New Gloucester.

“These are kids who were taken with the sport and wanted to learn it,” Stockly said. “They approached me, and the school has been very good about letting them join in.”

Both Stockly and Smith expressed the hope that other schools will join the rowing community. Hyde School in Bath lost its program last year because of funding cuts.

“Waynflete and Hyde were unbelievably helpful when we were starting our program,” Smith said. “I just picked up the phone and asked, ‘How does this work? What do we need?’ We would love to have more competition and would be happy to help anyone thinking of starting up a team.”

As for rowing’s appeal, Stockly spoke of the lack of stars, the fact that everyone is pulling together toward a singular purpose.

“There’s a lot of team unity, a lot of skill mastery involved, and you get to be out on the water,” she said. “It doesn’t require hand-eye coordination, which is not to say all rowers don’t have hand-eye coordination. It’s good for kids who really like pushing themselves and finding what their limits are.”

Stockly has two assistants at Waynflete. In Yarmouth, Smith has three, all with college coaching experience.

“All these coaches have regular jobs,” Smith said, “but they are so passionate about (rowing) that they want to make it an exceptional experience for the kids.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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