The BRYMCA Rowgatta switched from its traditional route around Southport Island to a shorter course around Barters Island on Saturday, Aug. 10.
Race coordinator Abby Jones said the new route was safer, four miles shorter, and had more parking available at the Knickerbocker public boat launch.
Peggy Mitchell, who has often won the race, substituted her husband, David, with Carol Williams, a first time competitor from Canaan, New Hampshire. They finished the race well above the field with a time of one hour 29 minutes. Williams had trained briefly with Mitchell before joining her in the tandem kayak. “The hard work paid off,” said Williams.
Scott Yeomans of Southport finished second in 1:41 in spite of a wrong turn at the north side of Barters Island.
Mary Nutt with her partner finished third just behind Yeomans. “We saw him head off up Back River but when we came around the other side of Barters, there he was,” said Nutt. She said she realized the advantages of the new route although she preferred the Southport course.
Boatbuilder Levi Johnson showed up late with his rowing dory having thought the course was around Southport.
Lee and Louise Ronshaugn from Denver, Colorado paddled for the first time in the race. “We have been coming to Boothbay for 14 years. We love it here,” said Louise Ronshaugn.
The Rowgatta supports the grade two free swimming program at the YMCA. “It is important that we who live by the water know how to swim,” said Jones, director of the YMCA’s Aquatic and Healthy Living Program.