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Nassau Rowing Club make history at Miami regatta
By Fay Knowles, The Tribune
Apr 12, 2013 - 2:20:57 AM

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Nicholas Mindorff and Tevin Creary-Roberts (L-R)

Nassau, Bahamas - Two young members of the Nassau Rowing Club made history at the Espirito Santo 40th Miami International Regatta on Saturday as the first competitive rowing entry from The Bahamas in all the years of the sport.

Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Mindorff and eighteen-year-old Tevin Creary-Roberts, crew of the Nassau Rowing Club junior men’s double scull, placed fourth out of nine boats in their heat, at a time of 7:05.30 over a 1500-metre course, as well as fourth overall among the junior varsity men’s double sculls division.

Kyle Chea, coach and interim president of the Nassau Rowing Club (NRC) said: “This gives our boys the fourth fastest over all time.”

Due to graduate from Lyford Cay International School next month, Nicholas and Tevin braved poor weather conditions to get one last practice row in before the 1,500-metre race began. Kyle said: “The sun had not yet risen and the water looked less than palatable with an aggressive headwind.”

The small delegation from the Nassau Rowing Club was head quartered at the Miami Rowing Centre, home to the host of the Regatta, the Miami Rowing Club.

Weather and logistics caused a number of delays to the event, but Nicholas, who sat at stroke seat, setting the pace for the boat, said: “The start of the race was good and the conditions were ideal, with flat water and very low wind speed.”

He said the Miami Rowing Club led straight out of the start and for the first 250 metres the Bahamas crew fought with Belen Jesuit Preparatory School for second place position. “The referee indicated that we needed to straighten our course. We overcorrected and brushed a buoy, losing some momentum.”

After the 750-metre mark, Nicholas said the wind off Biscayne Bay began to kick up some waves. “We worked to maintain our rate at thirty strokes per minute and increased the rate a little to sprint to the end.”

#Tevin says, “Considering that the other crews had been rowing far longer than we had, and had consistent access to great training facilities and equipment, full-time coaches and other crews in their programs to scrimmage against, I feel we did a great job.”

He said that, having only rowed for seven months and beating five crews who had rowed and trained far more than they had was an amazing feeling.

The Miami International Regatta was a chance to meet crews from across the American east coast, Florida and Latin American region. The Bahamas crew was one of four international crews competing at this regatta. The other non-American crews were from Mexico, Brazil, and Guatemala.

Kyle says, “Our rowers were able to see the calibre of scholastic rowing in American high schools, as well as top-level scholastic club programs out of Mexico and Brazil.”

He said the rowers and coaches from the local teams went out of their way to accommodate the Bahamas delegation: “They educated us on Florida scholastic competitive rowing protocols, and made us feel as if we were a local crew.”

In addition, representatives from rowing businesses made a special effort to introduce themselves and made it clear that support was available whenever crews from the Bahamas wanted to compete in the United States.

Kyle says the Nassau Rowing Club is most grateful to the Miami Rowing Club family, especially Rebeca Ramos, Regatta Coordinator, and Cesar Herrera, Head Coach, for arranging equipment use, as well as accommodating every request from the NRC.

The Miami Rowing Club rowers, who were at the clubhouse for practice themselves, had watched the NRC’s practice row on Friday. Kyle said: “They viewed us as serious contenders in our race, which was especially encouraging for a crew who had never raced together before.”

The Regatta gave the NRC the opportunity to showcase what they had developed over the last seven months. Kyle said: “The level of excitement from the newly realized potential that crews could come to row with us and against us in Nassau gave us a great sense of pride that we were setting the standard in Bahamian rowing.”

Tevin agreed, and said: “A medal would have been nice, but to show off the talent and drive of NRC rowers is just as good, if not better.”

Kyle said: “Club España in Mexico was hoping we could come down for the regatta they host annually in May, but that happens to be the same day the boys graduate from Lyford Cay International School.”

He added: “However, despite the graduation of this crew, there are more junior rowers in the pipeline, waiting for their chance to compete.”

The NRC would like to enter at least one crew in the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in August. The Miami International Regatta will also be an annual fixture in the NRC competition calendar as they move forward.

While other crews tended to emphasize power, the NRC boat was identified by many of the local U.S. coaches as having one of the best technical crews on the course.

“We work off legendary Australian rower and coach Steve Fairbairn’s philosophy that ‘mileage makes champions,’” said Kyle. “Like practising musical scales slowly and increasing speed over time, if you can row well at a low stroke rate and go fast, you can row at a higher stroke rate and go even faster. Rather than power, we emphasise finesse, time on the water and having our crews work and grow in unison.”

Many of the spectators cheered for the Bahamian crew and came over after the race, to congratulate the parents, relatives and coach who were there to encourage and support them.

“The local rowing community was highly impressed,” says Kyle, “And this really showed in the commentary throughout the race as the boys jockeyed for a third place position, despite eventually losing it to a boat which turned out to be a varsity boat rather than junior varsity.”

The spirited commentary speculated that the NRC boat would hold third position, until the course correction set them back.

Kyle says that the commitment the juniors and their parents have shown is commendable. “While most of their classmates were sleeping late on their Easter holidays, these young men were out several times from 7am, training, getting home early and being energised to be more productive than their classmates.”

He explains that the NRC’s usual Saturday training on Lake Cunningham begins at 6 am., requiring a 5.15 a.m. wake-up call. “The juniors don’t drive yet, so the involvement of the parents is exemplary and absolutely essential.”

He says the crew had an extremely positive practice row the day before the race. They utilized the excitement from learning that the long-awaited boats and oars purchased from the Rivanna Rowing Club, Charlottesville, Virginia, had been delivered to the NRC’s premises in immaculate condition.

The arrival of a coxed four and another double scull in Nassau represents a new chapter for rowing in The Bahamas. Kyle said: “Lake Cunningham has never been plied by a boat as large as our coxed four. At forty-four feet four inches, powered by four very fit individuals, this will represent the flagship of the club.”

The boats will also enable competitive training among members, as double sculls can be effectively as fast as a coxed four, given the relative weight, engineering and design of the shells.

“Now,” Kyle said proudly, “Our members will be able to experience race pressure, and this will enable them to perform at an even higher level than what we saw in Miami. The future for the Nassau Rowing Club looks very, very bright.”

The Nassau Rowing Club is sponsored by Holowesko Pyfrom Fletcher, Counsel and Attorneys-at-Law; Bank of The Bahamas Ltd.; Club One Fitness Centre; the Lyford Cay International School; Elite Pools; and SunTee. The NRC can be contacted at
nassaurowingclub@gmail.com or at facebook.com/NassauRowingClub.

The Tribune Source Article

NRC boats: The newly-expanded fleet of the Nassau Rowing Club: Pocock midweight double scull, Vespoli 1994 Heavyweight double/pair, Vespoli 1989 Heavyweight coxed four/quadruple scull.

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