MHS rowers travel internationally to compete in coastal rowing tournament

(From left to right) Marc Oria, Annalie Duncomb, Chris Bak, Liz Hinley compete in Peru for the Coastal Rowing tournament.

Alisha Soni | The Chronicle

Mason students traveled internationally to Peru to compete in a coastal rowing competition.

The Copa America Coastal is World Rowing’s first coastal rowing competition, hosted in Peru this year. Competitors from Central and South America, including five Mason students, traveled to Peru in order to compete in the competition.

Sophomore Carter Pence found interest in rowing after observing his older brother’s career in the sport. Now six days a week, Pence flat water rows with his team, the Great Miami Crew. 

This year, the Great Miami Crew was invited by their coach to compete in the national competition and Pence said that he pursued that opportunity to better his rowing skills.

“I decided to go on this trip [to] further my rowing experience,” Pence said. “I [also] wanted to see what it [was] like to row with some of the best athletes from other countries. There were some athletes out there that were on national teams [for] their country.”

Unlike traditional, flatwater rowing, which is what the Great Miami Crew team typically trains for, the competition uses coastal rowing. Flatwater rowing is made for speed, taking place on still water, while coastal rowing is more “extreme” on open water. These versions of the sport use different boats and overall have different concepts.

Sophomore Annalie Duncomb, who is also an athlete on the Great Miami Crew, had also seized the opportunity to compete overseas in Peru. Prior to the competition, both Duncomb and Pence held little experience in coastal rowing.

Before the competition, Duncomb, along with the rest of her team, had spent some time learning about coastal rowing, when they had raced in coastal boats on Buckeye Lake. However, Duncomb’s only experience with coastal rowing on a coastline was when she attended Team USA tryouts last summer. After traveling to Peru, Duncomb and her team were subjected to practice so that they could quickly adapt to the maneuverability and skills of coastal rowing before the competition.

“The Team USA tryouts were my only real experience with the ocean, the waves, that type of boat, that type of rowing,” Duncomb. “But I just showed up [to the competition] and made it happen. I had one day to practice and figure everything out.”

The competition consisted of different events to partake in, such as beach sprints, a 6-kilometer race, and a 25-kilometer race. Duncomb participated in all three and was awarded five medals by the end of the competition, and said that listening tothe national anthem during the medaling ceremony was one of her favorite memories during the trip.

“The pride I felt with having earned my own medal for my country was just really crazy to me,” Duncomb said. “I never thought I’d make it that far.”

Duncomb plans to continue her rowing career through college. She also hopes to someday represent her country in the Olympics.

Between practice and competition time, the team had a few opportunities to leave their resort and explore Peru. The team was able to try a few different restaurants outside of their club and sightsee the capital of Peru. Pence said that he was able to observe aspects of Peruvian culture, whether it was clothing or food, while he was there.

“Culture-wise, it’s a bit different,” Pence said. “You see a lot of people wearing their traditional clothes and you see a lot of alpacas and llamas there too. There were a couple of meals that I got, [including] this one food called lomo saltado. It was like steak, onions, and potatoes and it was really good.”

Pence and Duncomb saw the competition as a great experience and one that they both would compete in again. Despite the rowing experience that the both have earned, Pence said that it was also insightful to view the strength and competitiveness of the older athletes.

“It was a great experience because it opened your eyes when you see all these other athletes on their national teams,” Pence said. “You can see how fast they are and how passionate they are for the sport. It’s just really inspiring.”

Photo contributed by Annalie Duncomb