Taking the customary approach on Sunday afternoon, members of the Sarasota Crew Men’s Varsity 8+ celebrated the latest chapter in the area’s short, but rich, rowing history.
Minutes after guiding the boys varsity 8+ to a thrilling victory in the final event of the 2011 Florida Scholastic Rowing Association State Championships, the boat’s coxswain, Pine View School for the Gifted sophomore Grant Golub, found himself in the water that surrounds the 1,500-meter course at Nathan Benderson Park. While his rowers’ six consecutive regatta victories have taken some of the novelty out of the tradition of throwing winning coxswain of the varsity 8+ into the water, Golub’s aided plunge was a seminal moment for the nine-year-old organization.
By holding off contingents from Capital City Rowing and the Orlando Area Rowing Society by 2.24 and 2.57 seconds, respectively, the undefeated boys varsity 8+ gave Sarasota Crew the regatta’s boys youth team championship and overall youth team championship. The overall youth team state championship is the first for Sarasota Crew.
“It was almost a surreal experience,” Golub said about the race that took four minutes and 32.25 seconds for his boat to complete. “We were pretty confident going in that we would do well. We stuck to our plan and we were just going to try to kill it. When I saw (Capital City Rowing) coming up on us on the last part, I said, ‘We gotta go.’ They held them off and we did exactly what we wanted to do. It speaks for itself.”
However, it may speak more for the scholastic rowing scene and the development of the world-class facility at Nathan Benderson Park. The two-day Florida Scholastic Rowing Association State Championships concluded Benderson Park’s six-event 2011 Sarasota Regatta season, which began with the Sarasota Invitational on Feb. 26.
The Sarasota Crew also won the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association’s Western District Championship on April 2 at Benderson Park. The rival Sarasota Scullers won 11 events at last year’s state championship regatta, which was held at Benderson Park, and the 2011 Sarasota Invitational.
“With all this going on in the hometown, it’s great to be able to represent Sarasota so well,” Sarasota Crew head coach Casey Galvanek said. “Not just us, but the Sarasota Scullers. For the Sarasota Scullers to win the girls varsity 8+ and for us to win the boys varsity 8+, it’s just fantastic. I can’t say enough about how talented Sarasota rowers are.”
The Sarasota Crew outdistanced second-place Miami Beach Rowing Club by 83 points and claimed the boys overall championship with 369 points. Winter Park won the girls overall championship with 286 points, which were seven more than second-place Sarasota Crew and 40 more than third-place Sarasota Crew.
In addition to winning the boys varsity 8+ race, Sarasota Crew claimed state championships in the second varsity 8+, third varsity 8+ and 2X. Hunter Leeming of Sarasota Crew won the 1X in a time of 6:08.14.
The Sarasota Crew’s Girls 4X defeated the counterparts from the Sarasota Scullers and four other boats in the finals with a time of 5:40.30. The Scullers’ victorious girls varsity 8+ defeated second-place Winter Park by seven-tenths of a second with a time of 5:03.20.
The Scullers’ other state championship came in the Girls 2X.
The Sarasota Crew’s total of 615 points in the overall standings was 113 more than the second-place Miami Rowing Club and 147 more than the third-place Scullers. This marked the second year since 1995 and first since 2003 that Winter Park did not win the regatta’s overall championship.
“The sad thing is there is not as much backing as a football state championship,” Galvanek said. “Towns go crazy over their high schools winning a state football championship. All though we made a big mark (on Sunday), many people won’t know about it. We have 103 kids rowing on our team and helping us to a state title. That’s a lot more than any football team. More people in the community are affected by our team.”