Rescue Row at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – James Wakefield
On Saturday October 13th over 100 youth participated when the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Champlain Longboats. Program held its annual youth rowing race in Burlington. Crews hailed from local schools –Burlington High School, South Burlington High School, Vergennes Middle and High School, Champlain Valley Union High School and Mt. Abe Middle and High School – as well as from Northhaven, Vinalhaven and Rockland Maine and Hull Massachusetts. The students rowed 25 and 32-foot boats in a series of heats along the Burlington Waterfront. In the six-oared races Vergennes was victorious in the experienced division; Hull, Massachusetts in the intermediate division; and South Burlington in the novice division. In the four-oared races South Burlington won the Intermediate division and Vergennes the novice division. The event culminated in a mess-about, a race in which all the rowing crews are randomly mixed. Everyone has to learn to be teammates on very short notice. This final event truly captured the very spirit of a magnificent day.
All of the boats used in the event were built by Vermont High School and Middle School students in the Champlain Longboats boat building program that takes place in the winter and early spring at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. The James Wakefield Rescue Row is named after James Wakefield who was responsible for the courageous rescue of the passengers and crew of The Canal Schooner General Butler on December 9 th 1876 after it crashed into the Burlington breakwater during a fierce winter gale. The rowing season isn’t over yet for the intrepid students. The Otter Creek Challenge takes place on November 10, and several Vermont teams as well as several of the boats, will travel to Hull, Massachusetts to race on November 17.
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