By Martin Taylor
Orcas Issues Community Journalist
Orcas Island Rowing (OIR) club will be holding their local fall rowing regatta “The Headless Head” next Sunday, September 30. The action takes place on Cascade Lake in Moran State Park. Boats launch and the finish line is near the OIR boathouse at the south end of the lake. Check their website orcasislandrowing.org for a precise location. This is earlier than the usual date around Halloween, but rowing-compatible costumes are still strongly encouraged.
Any and all experienced rowers of any age are welcome to row. Just turn up and sign up for a lineup on the day. Boats will be launched starting at 10 a.m. and racing will start shortly thereafter. There will be two or three ‘flights’ so there could be racing till about 12:30 p.m. There are no entry fees or requirements other than to be able and willing to row. The event is an opportunity for the community to see the club in action. All are welcome. There will be a potluck party during the event. So bring some food and drink to share and have a good time.
The kind of rowing that OIR offers and that will take place at the regatta is often called “crew rowing.” It uses very long, very narrow boats. The single seat boats are only as wide as a man’s hips and about 30 feet long. The boats are only kept upright by the rowers technique with their oars. The oars are extremely long and they pivot in oarlocks held away from the hull by outriggers. The boats have sliding seats so the strong muscles in the legs can be used as wells as the back and arms. There are boats with 1, 2, 4 or 8 rowers. It is one of the oldest competitive sports.
Much of the terminology is of French derivation, although the word for a race is “regatta” which is of ancient Italian derivation meaning fight or contest. Typically the regattas in the spring season are shorter sprint races over marked straight lanes, while Fall races are typically longer 3km or more over river courses or lakes where only the turns are marked. Those longer races are often called “head races” after some of the first established races which raced at the ‘head’ of a river. The Head Of The Charles regatta is the most well known in the USA. The Headless Head is about 3.5 km. It starts in “The Lagoon” comes out under the bridge and then takes a large ‘S’ shaped course around the main body of the lake before finishing in front of the boathouse at the south end of the lake.
OIRA has a boathouse at the south end of Cascade Lake in Moran State Park. OIRA offers rowing opportunities to juniors and adults. For information about the regatta, about joining the club or about learning to row contact: orcasislandrowing,org, firstname.lastname@example.org or Martin Taylor at 376-6935.