Two Come Boating! rowing teams, including for men and women, competed in the annual Snow Row March 6. It is one of New England’s most celebrated rowing events of the year.

Belfast’s two 32-foot gigs were among the 111 rowing craft that entered the 3.75-mile race in Boston Harbor. The Belfast men’s team, rowing Selkie, took first place in the Pilot Gig class, beating the Saquish team from Duxbury, Mass. that has won the Snow Row for many years and 14 other competitors.

Come Boating! women, in the Belle Fast, came in second and well ahead of several other gigs.

The Snow Row, organized by the Hull Lifesaving Museum, was held under sunny skies on a mild spring-like day, quite unlike conditions of some years when boats had to contend with snowy shores and ice at the launch.

Gigs, whaleboats, livery boats, workboats, kayaks, ocean shells, and other rowed craft, including Australian surf boats and the historic 3,000-pound quarterboat from the U.S.S. Constitution, lined up along the long beach at Windmill Point.

“There were so many boats crammed onto the beach there was precious little room left for oars, some of which are 12 feet long,” said Wes Reddick of Belfast. “Thus the race is started in four waves of similar class boats, 90 seconds apart, in an attempt to avoid a concentrated and massive display of confusion and mayhem. The boats start empty with their bows on the beach, and the teams have to run down the beach, jump into the boats, and row backwards to find a clearing to turn around in.“

The course took participants around Sheep Island and past the abandoned buildings of Fort Andrew on Peddocks Island. There was no time for rowers to admire the panoramic view of Boston as they powered their boats along the course, watched by a large number of spectators aboard a Boston Harbor ferry and on the beach.

After rowing at breakneck speed for three and a quarter miles, the Selkie team powered up even more and overtook Saquish’s Mike Jenness Sr., crossing the finish line with a time of 32 minutes and 50 seconds — 26 seconds ahead of the Saquish men.

The women in the Belle Fast completed the course in 37 minutes and 22 seconds, only 29 seconds behind the Saquish women. An entry on the Saquish blog a day or so after the race reported, “Unfortunately, our men’s team — that practiced like dogs and gave it their all — for the first time in 14 years of Saquish rowing history lost to another US team and the Selkie from Belfast, Maine took the win.”

“Our team has never rowed better,” Reddick said. “Even though we crossed oars while passing other boats, we didn’t lose our rhythm, breathing deep and steady, pulling hard, and harder.”

Rowing Selkie were Reddick, Jim Bahoosh, Eric Beenfeldt, Rafe Blood, Roy Rodgers and Greg Stafford, with Chris Gordon as cox.

Belle Fast was rowed by Martha Garfield, Linda Hurley, Willy Reddick, Marnie Reeve, Ellen Sinclair and Esther Martin of Gloucester, Mass.

Wes Reddick has posted an account of the excitement of competing in the Snow Row on Come Boating!’s website at comeboating.org. Community rowing in Belfast harbor will begin with Launch Day on Saturday, May 22.

Come Boating!’s daily rows offer opportunities to learn rowing skills for enjoyment or competitive rowing.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.