A quad scull from Vancouver Rowing Club competes the first Head of the River race Saturday.

A quad scull from Vancouver Rowing Club competes the first Head of the River race Saturday.

Washington rower wins Head of the River title

Strong turnout for Nicomekl Rowing Club’s annual competition Saturday in South Surrey

Rowers were out in force on the Nicomekl River Saturday afternoon, as the Nicomekl Rowing Club’s annual Head of the River Regatta was held in South Surrey.

This year’s overall winner was Jill Gardner of Washington’s Lake Union Crew, who finished the six-km course – which went from the Elgin dam to the Crescent Beach pier – in a final, handicap-adjusted time of 21 minutes, 44 seconds. Gardner placed just ahead of last year’s Head of the River winner, Maureen Harriman of the Whistler Rowing Club.

A Delta Deas/Nicomekl Rowing Club quad rowing team, led by Sandi Gauvin, placed third.

The Head of the River title is determined after results from the second and final race of the day are weighted by number of rowers, age, gender and boat type.

Other winners in individual races included Stephen Lawson, who won the singles division in the class race – he was also part of Gauvin’s third-place foursome in the Head of the River race – and South Surrey’s Ed Williams and Rainer Straka, who won the doubles race.

Rounding out the local winners was the quad team of Bridget Genino, Sandy Snow, Kat Strom and Maritza Vernheist, which was the best novice team (rowing less than one year.)

Overall, Nicomekl Rowing Club president Malcolm Fletcher was pleased with the turnout, which saw 70 sculls compete in the first race, and about 40 in the second, the Head of the River finale.

“It was a very good turnout – a few more than last year, and a few less than the year before that, so about average,” Fletcher said.

“And the weather held off, which was great. We were very glad that the regatta was Saturday and not Sunday with all the thunder and lightning – that’s when we can’t really row at all. It’s gets a little dodgy.”