Special Whitehall Newsletter - Diablo Race Report

Newsletter April 09 By Harold Aune VP
Special report - Elite Rowers Race the Solo 14 in the Diablo Rowing Regatta

Last year Doug Gilmour - avid rower and traditional rowing boat aficionado, entered "Saline Solution", his Solo 14 in the Diablo Point Rowing Race hosted by the Open Water Rowing Centre in Sausalito. The 'Long Course' runs out into the open Pacific under the North End of the Golden Gate Bridge to Diablo Point, then back into San Francisco Bay to Belvedere Point and back to Sausalito via Cone Rock. It is 7.6 nautical miles or about 13 km. It's a lot further through the water if there's opposing tide. Last fall I asked Olympic rower Adam Kreek if he would like to do the race in a Solo 14. He said he'd love to if he wasn't working.

At the Seattle Boat Show, the assistant show manager was Brad Vickers, one of the current record holders for rowing across the North Atlantic and one of his fellow crewmen Jordan Hanssen was at the show as well - so the idea formed to put together a team of elite rowers to do the Diablo race and demonstrate the Solo 14's capabilities as an open water shell.

Rower Allan Calder was looking at a Solo 14 and had a dialogue going with Whitehall Rowing & Sail's salesperson Andrea Guyon. He is also a member of the "South End Rowing Club", the oldest in North America, founded in 1873. When Andrea asked if he was interested in participating, he eagerly agreed. And as I hoped, Race veteran Doug Gilmour couldn't resist the call of the Diablo.

We all met the day before the race at the OWRC for a short practice row. 'Team Whitehall' managed to make the start early next morning in spite of slight Margarita symptoms from the festive dinner party at Picos' the night before. Thank you Doug, for setting that up. And despite the breakdown of the first camera boat, Marie, myself, Wilf Lewis and boat operator, Jeff Zarwell, made the start line on time even though we were still doing twenty knots.

The race is best described by the pictures we shot - see the Diablo slideshow and the short video posted on the whitehallsolo.com website. See the Diablo Rowing Race 2009

We've been looking for a way to describe the Solo 14 compared to a racing shell and this race helped to define a way. The racing or open water rowing shell is like a racing or street bicycle, blazingly fast but enjoying flatter water. The Solo 14 is more like a mountain bike, still pretty quick but fun and safe to handle in rough lumpy water, especially because it's equipped with ergonomically correct sliding seat gear. The Whitehall Team all agrees on that.

A special thanks goes out to all who helped out, and particularly the OWRC for inviting the Whitehall Team's participation. We had a blast and as the governator once said. "We'll be back!"