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Despite foggy start,regatta rocks

Teams traveling to the Duluth Rowing Club Regatta -- some of which had come hundreds of miles and camped out overnight near the clubhouse -- awoke to a Duluth version of a wet blanket Saturday: a thick sheet of fog over the lake. But soon, liftin...

Teams traveling to the Duluth Rowing Club Regatta -- some of which had come hundreds of miles and camped out overnight near the clubhouse -- awoke to a Duluth version of a wet blanket Saturday: a thick sheet of fog over the lake. But soon, lifting fog also lifted spirits. The sounds of classic Creedence Clearwater Revival could be heard booming from the stereo system over the jubilant cheers of competitors.
The Duluth Rowing Club's 43rd annual regatta, with teams from as far away as Madison, Wis., and Thunder Bay, Ontario, had begun on an upbeat note.
"This is the least pressure and most fun I've had at a regatta all year," said smiling first-year rower Margot Miller, who was part of the Midwest Camp's Women's 8x dash team, which took first place. "Its really nice; you don't have anyone yelling at you to hurry up. You can just sit back and take your time."
The age and skill level varies at the regatta -- from rookie rowers like Miller to 35-year rowing veterans like Duluth Club member Mike Cochran. However, no matter the age, gender or skill level, seemingly everyone had something good to say about the setup of the regatta.
"A lot of the reason why this thing is so successful goes to Duluth's centralized location and regatta chairman Al Denim," said Cochran.
"Like it was Al's idea to have that big roast at the end of the day," he said with a chuckle.
As the afternoon wore on and the finals approached, the atmosphere at the regatta, which draws some of the region's top teams, became more competitive. That was part of the fun.
First year Minneapolis coach John Davis said, "This regatta is really fun because you have a lot of rowers here, including some from the U.S. Women's Camp. Some of the rowers out there today could be the next big thing in rowing."
Eventually, the favorites -- Madison and Minneapolis -- pulled ahead in points over the rest of the pack, including the hometown favorites of the Duluth Rowing Club.
"These clubs have an advantage over us because they have a full year training program and we don't," said Duluth Rowing Club President Chris Voltzke.
However, the Duluth Club still managed to compete strongly throughout the day and earned a solid third in the final standings. They can also boast of having two rowers that will be racing at the Canadian Henleys this year, one of the premier regattas in all of Canada. One of the rowers going to the Canadian Henleys, Stuart Burke, is in just his first year of rowing.
"When I started college at Lawrence University, they had no ski team, so I took up rowing and started racing for them," Burke said. "Since Lawrence University gets out so late, this is actually my first regatta with the Duluth Club."
Even though only Madison won, other teams enjoyed the rowing conditions.
"This was not our best day of rowing. It could be a little cooler, and there were a few wakes, but the conditions were definitely a lot better than St. Paul," said Michael Boid, a St. Paul Club rower.
Regatta chairman Al Denim also praised the conditions: "The last three years we have really been blessed with good weather," he said. "There were five wind shifts today, which can make things difficult for the rowers, but it was relatively calm because we usually get more powerboat traffic nearby that makes the racing waters much more choppy."
Finally, late in the afternoon, the last shell left the water. Many of the rowers were exhausted since they had raced several times beginning early in the morning. However, they were able to gather enough energy to make it back to the clubhouse for a huge banquet to wind down the evening. It was a welcome end to a long but exciting -- and fog free -- day of rowing.

Robert Regal is a freelance writer living in Duluth.
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Regatta Results

1st Place: Madison (264 pts.)
2nd Place: Minneapolis (184 pts.)
3rd Place: Duluth (169 pts.)
4th Place: St. Paul (83 pts.)
5th Place: Mendota (70 pts.)
6th Place: Thunder Bay (58 pts.)
7th Place: Kenora (22 pts.)
8th Place: Miwaukee (11 pts.)

Individual results from Duluth's Club

Men's Jr. Double -- Duluth 1st Place
Men's Quad -- Duluth 3rd place
Men's Master Double -- Duluth 1st place
Women's Master quad -- Duluth 3rd place
Men's Master Quad -- Duluth 1st Place
Men's 8 Dash -- Duluth 3rd Place
Men's Jr. 4 with cox -- Duluth 2nd Place
Men's single -- Duluth 3rd place
Men's Junior 8 -- Duluth 2nd
Women's Junior 4 with cox -- Duluth 3rd place

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