On Sunday morning with ideal conditions, nearly 60 people participated in the 2013 Bird Island Challenge, a multi-course, multi-boat race and tour celebrating more than a decade of competition for a good cause: the Gleason Family YMCA Scholarship Program.
The Challenge began and ended at Zecco Marina in Wareham, with breakfast and lunch provided to the registrants and volunteers. Competitors chose from among three courses: the 3-mile Long Beach, 6-mile Great Hill and 12-mile Bird Island. The top racing time on the Bird Island course was Alan Aikens’ 1:54:40 on a slide-seat row, and on the Great Hill, Craig Wolfe’s 0:41:58 on a slide-seat row. Other participants took to the sea in canoes, kayaks and whaleboats.
But the boaters had a lot of help in making the Bird Island Challenge a successful event, including from YMCA Senior Program Director Lu Brito.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring the community together, to offer something to the community,” Brito said. “A kayak race is not something that people do all of the time, so it’s a chance for something different.”
While volunteer organizers Eleanor Mower, Bob Trahan and Betsy Dunn prepared lunch and refreshments, Dunn’s 11-year-old grandson, Sam, helped boaters bring their vessels to shore. He has been volunteering for five years.
“I usually go with my grandmother,” Sam said. “I like to help out, and the food’s pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Pat Lester tabulated results as the competitors came in.
“I came in last,” Pam Silver said, “and I still had a blast.”
Greg Johnson and his first mate/dog Mackie, sporting goggles, finished a respectable 1:13:05 on the Great Hill course in their slide-seat row, the Labradory.
Paul Donatio saw the festivities going on and “thought it was a party,” so he rowed from his home on Pinehurst Beach.
By Shawn Badgley