Charlie Butt Regatta

The winds finally died down Saturday, April 27, and with clear skies and cool temperatures the racing conditions were near perfect for the Charlie Butt regatta on the Potomac River. All told, 14 schools participated in what would prove to be an exciting and full day of racing.

The first event of the day, the men’s novice 8, featured Yorktown in lane 1, Oakton in lane 2, Mt. Vernon in lane 3 and the Yorktown 4V in lane 4. The Yorktown novice 8 opened an early lead and never looked back, easily besting second place Oakton by 20 seconds. Mt. Vernon finished 3rd, with the Yorktown 4V finishing last. This was a harbinger of more good results for Yorktown crews throughout the day.

The second heat of the men's freshman 8 saw the Yorktown men again lined up next to St. Albans, with Lake Braddock and McLean rounding out the field. With the first two places going to the grand final, the men knew that they had to stay close to St. Albans, and they did just that, finishing overlapped with the STA boys and more than 10 seconds ahead of third place McLean. In the final, the freshmen found themselves racing TC Williams, St. Albans and Washington-Lee, which looks to be a contender for the state championship this week. While the Yorktown boys could not match W-L, they did top St. Albans and TC Williams to nab a well-deserved second place.

The men's 2V 8 was up next. Needing a first or second-place finish to advance to the grand final, the 2V lost a pitched battle for second to a hard-charging TC Williams crew by a mere 0.3 seconds. However, the TC Williams crew, a lightweight crew, wanted to face the McLean crew, another lightweight crew, in the petite final. By mutual agreement of the coaches, the men would row in the grand final against St. Albans, Thomas Jefferson and W-L. St. Albans proved to be the class of the field, winning by almost seven seconds over 2nd place Thomas Jefferson, with the Yorktown men finishing fourth.

The men's 1V also needed a top-two finish to advance to the grand final. The men rowed in the second heat, along with W-L, Oakton and TC Williams. The men rowed a solid race, finishing second, 4.8 seconds behind W-L, to advance to the grand final. 

The men's 3V would have perhaps the race of the day. In a straight-to-final event with W-L, Oakton and McLean, the 3V men led from start to finish and opened up a large gap over the field, finishing nearly 22 seconds ahead of the second place crew from McLean.

The junior 4 found themselves in a very close race with the crews from St. Albans and W-L. Losing a little ground at the start to the other crews, the men stayed close but were unable to overtake their competition. At the end, just five seconds separated the first and third-place crews, with W-L and St. Albans taking the top two spots.

Before getting ready to launch for the grand final, the 1V received a visit from a special guest, Dick Ewing. Dick was Yorktown crew’s head coach during the 1977-1979 seasons, when he coached current head coach Steve Cauffman. After introductions and a few brief remarks, the men launched for their final with St. Albans, Thomas Jefferson and W-L.  This was a very fast field, with St. Albans taking the top spot, followed by Thomas Jefferson and W-L, with Yorktown pulling in fourth.

On the girls side it was a day to take stock, with the crews ranked 2-8 in Virginia all competing on the same course. Win or lose, the results would give the team a good indication of their standing going into May’s championship regattas.

The freshman girls 8 kicked off the morning with a strong performance in their heat, coming in second to qualify for the grand final despite missing their most powerful rower, who was sitting in the varsity 8 to fill in for an ill athlete. In the grand final, which included TC Williams, National Cathedral School, W-L and Yorktown, the Patriots got off to a great start, powered through the middle of the course and were in second place coming under the Key Bridge. However, NCS and W-L had too much power at the sprint, putting the Yorktown crew in 4th at the finish. TC Williams, NCS and W-L should be the three top seeds going into states, and making the grand final should place the girls in the top 5 or 6 going into the Ted Phoenix regatta. With their six seat back for the state championship, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

The novice 4 was up next in a final only, and while this young group of girls rowed hard they ended up third behind NCS and W-L. 

The 3rd and 4th eights raced in finals only races because there were no more than 4 other teams competing in their events. Both boats featured new line-ups and were strong throughout their races. The 3V was clearly in the lead until one of the crew caught a boat-stopping crab. The girls recovered from the crab and were STILL in the lead until catching another boat-stopping crab. The second crab was too much to overcome and the girls finished 4th out of four. They showed perseverance during their race, however, and will have an opportunity to redeem themselves at the lower boat championships. The 4V had a similar experience, leading their race until a rower caught a crab and ultimately finishing 3rd out of three. Both boats definitely have the power to compete; now it is a question of getting the technique down. If they do, they will be fun to watch.

The lightweight 8 had a fantastic race against the Lake Braddock lightweights, finishing 15 seconds ahead in their two-boat race, as well as beating Episcopal and Georgetown Visitation who raced in the same heat as junior 8s. While traditional lightweight power McLean raced as a 2V, the Yorktown result bodes well for the crew. They led from start to finish and now have their eyes set on gaining ground on the McLean lights.

The 2V had a great race, certainly one of the best of the day. There were three heats of the second 8s, so boats had to win their heat to move on to the grand final. And that is exactly what the 2V girls did, topping higher-seeded TJ by .6 seconds to nab a spot in the grand final. This was by far the best race the 2V has had all year. In the final, the girls got off the start slow and let the McLean lightweights take an early lead. Then it was a battle with the Oakton 2V for second, and the crews remained overlapping to the bridge. But the Oakton sprint left Yorktown behind and the girls ended up 3rd out of three. Still, buoyed by their morning race, they are looking forward to gaining speed and power this week and racing strong at states.

The varsity 8 took on Lake Braddock in the heats, with the winner moving on to the grand final. The Patriot ladies out rowed the Bruins by 18 seconds even though they had never rowed together as a crew what with their freshman substitute. The grand final included NCS, TC Williams, Oakton and Yorktown—seeds 2-5 in the state. The Patriot ladies had a fantastic start and middle of the race and were two seats up on TC and four seats up on Oakton with 300 meters to go. However, the other crews picked up their stroke rate and sprinted past Yorktown to a really close finish. NCS finished first, 10 seconds ahead of Yorktown (we are gaining time on them, at St. Andrews they finished 15 seconds ahead), while second through fourth place were overlapping. TC Williams finished 2nd, and Oakton 3rd, just .7 seconds ahead of the Patriots.

All in all, it was a great day of racing. Next up for the Yorktown freshman, 3V, 4V, and novice 8s will be the Ted Phoenix lower boat championship regatta at Occoquan May 4. The 1V and 2V 8s, lightweight 8 and the junior 4 have the week off, giving them time to prepare for the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association championship regatta at Occoquan May 11.

Full results from the Charlie Butt regatta can be found here.

Also, in addition to the photos that you can find on our Shutterfly site, you may want to check this album taken by a McLean parent. There are some good shots, take a look.