Foster City, Nov. 11 -- Casual viewers of rowing at the Olympics wouldn't recognize a head race, the aquatic equivalent of a road rally. Sleek boats (called shells) start one at a time and speed along the narrow, snaking course, negotiating sweeping curves, sharp turns and potential obstacles like bridges and piers jutting into the route. If one boat overtakes another, they might clash oars as they pass or force the competitor's boat off-course. Collisions are not unusual.
The annual Head of The Lagoon regatta, hosted by the Peninsula Aquatic Club at the Foster City lagoon last weekend, is just such a race. Small wonder that the logo for the event features an angry fish chewing on an oar. The major Bay Area rowing clubs were represented, including perennial powerhouse Oakland Strokes which draws talent from the entire East Bay and boasts a national profile. As a result, teams had a lot of boats in the water.
Featured races included Boys Junior (high school-age) Eight, in which Strokes crews took first --posting the fastest time of the entire regatta and securing the coveted Grand Sequoia Cup --as well as having the second place boat. The Boys Junior Four event went to Strokes, earning them the prized Director's Cup. Strokes men also took first and second in the Boys Lightweight (under 160 lbs.) Four. First place in the Girls Junior Novice (first-year) Eight went to a Strokes crew, along with the third-place finish. In the Girls Junior Eight, the Pacific Rowing Club won with Strokes taking both second and third. Overall, Strokes took the most medals of any team.
This was the last regatta of the Fall season, and set the stage for an exciting Spring of racing.
Oakland Strokes, a 200-member junior rowing club for middle and high school students, represents 29 Bay Area high schools and has sent countless student-athletes to college rowing programs across the country. Each year the Strokes boats place strongly in local, regional and national championship regattas. Its boathouse is on the Oakland estuary near the High Street Bridge.