Come Boating! rowers first in tough Blackburn Challenge Race

Waldo County rowers may have set new record in division
By Staff | Aug 14, 2012
Courtesy of: Come Boating! The winning Come Boating! crew in the Blackburn Challenge include, from left, Amy Grant, Monica Piccinini, Ethan Shaw, Jonathan Fulford, John Dillenbeck and Wes Reddick, with coxswain Malcolm Gater behind.

Gloucester, Mass. — Come Boating!, Belfast's community boating organization, participated in the Blackburn Challenge Race July 14, an event which saw a handful of Waldo County rowers bring home a first-place finish.

Competing in the fixed multi-rowing division, Malcolm Gater, Wes Reddick, John Dillenbeck, Jonathan Fulford, Ethan Shaw, Monica Piccinini and Amy Grant finished first in their division, completing the 20-mile race in three hours, three minutes and 43 seconds.

There were 30 divisions and more than 200 participants in the race, open to all oar- or paddle-powered crafts, including banks dories, shells, sea and racing kayaks, outrigger canoes and surfskis, among other classes of boats.

The annual event, a circumnavigation of Cape Ann, near Gloucester, Mass., is held each year regardless of wind and water conditions, according to the Cape Ann Rowing Club website.

It was the first time Come Boating! had participated in the annual event, though the group has participated in many shorter races in the past.

Malcolm Gater, the coxswain, said prior to the event that the Blackburn Challenge "is the longest and most challenging race by far that Come Boating! crews have competed in."

According to Fulford, the group may have set a record for the fastest mixed team time at the event, but he was unclear on that at the time this story was published.

"It was really exciting," Fulford said. "It's three times longer than any race we've ever done before, so we were really excited to train for it."

"This was quite a significant race for all of us," said Piccinini. "I think we're all very excited for our first time to come in first in our division, especially by such a large margin. It's possibly a new record to our credit."

Fulford said the team set many goals in the two months training for the event, namely to finish the race, to be the best time of the day [in their division] and to set records.

The team set two, if not three of those goals in the race.

The longest race this collection of rowers had completed was roughly seven miles prior to the Blackburn Challenge, making that event a great deal of work in training.

"The first really long row we did for training we went out to Searsport and over to Turtle Head [Cove] and back and when we got back to the dock, a couple of our rowers crawled out of the boat," said Piccinini. "It was that demanding."

There are many talented rowers in the Come Boating! organization with the cast of competitors changing from race to race, but a core group of 12 people trained for the Blackburn Challenge Race, with seven earning the right to compete.

Fulford was quick to credit Sally Faulkner, Aaron Bauman, Rick Fitzsimmons, Chris Gordon and Wiola Shaw for their efforts in helping the team.

"They didn't get the credit of having been on the boat that crossed the [finish] line, they definitely should get the credit for making it possible for having the team cross the line at that speed," Fulford said.

Faulkner and Gordon accompanied the team to the race, which was "wonderful," said Piccinini.

While Fulford said he "hurt a lot" at the conclusion of the race, the successes of the team made it all worthwhile.

"This was the longest racing event of any kind I've done in my life," he said. "It was really painful, but it was also really exhilarating and incredibly satisfying. And I want to do it again."

Courier Publications sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at

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