SARASOTA, Fla. – USRowing selected eight crews to represent the U.S. at the 2021 World Rowing Beach Sprints Finals today at the first-ever Beach Sprints National Team Trials on South Lido Key Beach.
The winners earned the right to race at the World Rowing Beach Sprints Finals scheduled to take place September 24-26 in Oeiras, Portugal.
With four junior events on the schedule, The Stewards Foundation located in Tampa dominated the competition. Stewards Sculler, Britt Wotovich a Berkeley Prep Student became the first official team member by winning the final of the junior women's single sculls in a 3:40.8. Each event opened with a time trial, before moving to a bracket-style, head-to-head racing format. Wotovich finished second in the time trial of the junior single but was able to handle the conditions better in the final, coming out on top by over a minute.
Wotovich secured a second spot on the team with a win in the junior mixed double sculls. She teamed up with The Stewards Foundation’s Brian O'Leary, a Jesuit High School Student who won the junior men's single sculls, to win the junior mixed double by a little over five seconds in a 3:17.0 ahead of Great Miami Rowing Club's Annalie Duncomb and Evan Mead.
"It was a lot of racing today, but it was all worthwhile," Wotovich said. "The waves were a little bit large compared to what we are normally used to, which is flat-water rowing, but we managed them well."
In his final of the junior men's single, O'Leary clocked a 3:09.5 for an 18-second victory over The Steward Foundation's Michael Garcia.
"I'm really excited for it," O'Leary said. "It's something I've never done. I've never really excelled in any sports like I have in rowing. I've just started, and I've taken off with it. I really love it, and I want to do it for a long time. I'm excited to go to Portugal.
In the final of the junior men's double sculls, Rose City, Portland, Oregon Rowing Club's Aidan Ehrismann and Joshua Li won the final in a 3:05.3. The race was tight through the turn, but Rose City was able to pull it out over the back half of the race.
"It's definitely surreal," Ehrismann said about making the team. "Even with nationals being nationals, it didn't click in my brain how big it was and then this is like a whole other level. No words."
For most, this weekend's racing was their first experience with Beach Sprints racing and a great camaraderie was formed amongst all the athletes, especially the juniors.
"A lot of the coastal rowers who are juniors here have little experience because coastal rowing is just a very new thing for juniors," Li said. "We're all in the same boat, we're all on the same level. It's just great getting to know each other and make sure that everyone is comfortable and make sure everyone feels like we're not here by ourselves."
All three of The Stewards Youth Coaches were selected to Coach on behalf of US Rowing their scullers in Portugal. They include Tom Feaster, High Performance Director, Courtney Schleifer, Stewards Head Coach and Coach Brent York.