LANGLEY — The Augusta Invitational Regatta came to an early end Saturday, as high winds forced rowers off course and left coaches frustrated.
Winds blowing in from the southwest reached speeds in excess of 23 mph, managing to overturn one boat from the Palmetto Rowing Club, of Hilton Head Island, S.C. The novice crew was quickly recovered.
While the larger 8-person boats were allowed to continue competing, Regatta Director George Fry Jr., said officials decided to cancel all other events amid safety concerns. Coaches and regatta officials met briefly just after 1 p.m. before making a final decision.
The Augusta Rowing Club junior crew made the most of the early preliminary heats with nine top-3 finishes, landing itself in most of the finals before the events were called.
With few teams competing after the cancellations, overall winners were selected based on the preliminary heat results. The Augusta Rowing Club took third among the high school teams, trailing the Asheville Youth Rowing Association and Charlotte Youth Rowing crews, which placed first and second, respectively.
“The junior team is living up to my expectations right now and they are doing a wonderful job,” head coach Michael Cobb said.
The Alabama Crew took first place in the collegiate divison ahead of teams from Richmond and North Carolina State.
Fry said many of the competitors and coaches were disappointed.
“Some of the competitors have come a long way,” Fry said. “We’ve got a crew from West Virginia that came. They didn’t come to just sit around in the sun. They came to compete.”
Cobb added event cancellations of this sort are fairly common in the sport.
“Things happen,” he said. “Until we can build a dome over the pond or something like that it’s just the nature of the beast.”