Members of the Yarmouth Youth Rowing club’s novice women’s team have been taking top honors in a variety of regattas this fall season. From left are Maisy St.Cyr, Katie Murray, Mia Goodwin, Hannah Mills, and coxswain Amanda Palma. Contributed

YARMOUTH — A year ago the Yarmouth Youth Rowing club was in danger of collapsing due to low numbers and funding woes.

Now the club is back on the water and its novice women’s junior boat is regularly taking top spots in both local and regional regattas, with the crew taking fifth at the Head of Fish regatta in Saratoga Springs, New York this past weekend.

“Until last March none of these girls had ever been in a rowing shell,” said parent Matt St. Cyr, who has played a key role in revitalizing the program. “Through dry land strength conditioning and on-the-water practice their coach has put together a potent and competitive boat.”

Pulling together is what has made the novice women’s boat so successful this season, according to coach Sara Younger. Contributed

The youth rowing club is open to students in grades 8-12 from Yarmouth, Freeport, North Yarmouth, Falmouth and Cumberland, as well as elsewhere.

The youth crew practices after school four to five days a week and regattas are held on weekends.

St. Cyr said what he most appreciates about the sport is that it requires absolute dedication to teamwork. He also enjoys seeing a big smile on his daughter Maisy’s face. She’s a sophomore at Freeport High School and just completed her first full year of rowing.

“Its’ such a great sport for team bonding,” Maisy St. Cyr said, “because we all have to stay in tune with what each of our teammates is doing.”

Teammate Katie Murray agreed, saying, “we had a rough season last year with little time rowing … (but) this fall season we got the opportunity to row four days a week, two hours a day. What I love about rowing is that it’s such an extreme sport that also brings you together.”

Matt St. Cyr said the junior rowing program first got started in 2007, after Yarmouth High School student Emily Smith approached the Yarmouth Rowing Masters club about starting a youth crew.

While the group of parents who recently took over the junior rowing program is still trying to figure out exactly how much is required to operate the program year to year, they were able to raise $13,000 to support the fall season.

St. Cyr said rowing has a lot of moving parts and expenses include coaches, regatta fees, boat storage, insurance, transportation and uniforms. “The list goes on and on,” he said, which is why the program is still in need of more volunteers and more donations.

As part of the revitalization effort, St. Cyr said the program moved to the Merrymeeting Community Rowing Association facility on the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, which “has been fantastic” because it has allowed the youth teams to practice regularly without having to worry about the tides, which was an issue at their previous location.

Right now, he said, the youth rowing program is fielding four boats, with four rowers and a coxswain in each.

Three are women’s boats and there’s one men’s boat. While the program doesn’t fall under any particular state rules or guidelines, St. Cyr said that coach, Sara Younger, follows the training guidelines established by U.S. Rowing.

He said his daughter first got involved with rowing to get into shape for alpine ski racing, but now the whole family is “up to our eyeballs (in the sport) and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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