By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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"I'm a little nervous. I'm rowing with these three totally athletic women," said Kristi Knowles, who fell madly for the sport this spring.
But she is one of the chosen, one of the few from this city to compete in the Victoria Classic Rowing Regatta, a two-mile race from Vancouver Island's Gorge waterway to the Inner Harbour starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Knowles, a custom framer at Karon's Frame Center, will row with surgical nurse Marilyn Perkins, occupational therapist Lynda Williamson and Port Angeles School District staffer Colleen Brastad.
They will slice the water in the Working Girl, their shell newly named for the wines produced by team sponsor Olympic Cellars, a boutique winery between Port Angeles and Sequim.
The boat was built in 1947 and owned by the Everett Rowing Association -- which in 1999 nearly unloaded it onto a restaurant that would have dry-docked it in its dining room as a vessel for lettuce and tomatoes.
But then the Orcas Island Rowing Association saved it and in 2009 sold it to the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association and the Clallam County YMCA.
Cheering on the Working Girl four at Saturday's regatta will be the rest of the Y's rowing crew: Cheryl Baumann, Gail Tate, Kassandra Grimm, Kim Rutherford, Dr. Ron Bergman, assistant coach David Mittmann and head coach Peter Becker.
Port Townsend, meanwhile, is sending four boats to Victoria, including the all-woman Small Wonder and its Tough as Nails rowing team.
Oarspeople from Port Townsend's Rat Island Rowing and Sculling Club have traveled twice before to the Victoria Classic, Rat Island member and Small Wonder rower Mari Friend said Thursday.
The other three boats going over with the eight-seat Small Wonder are the eight-person Quinault, the quad Oho and a three-person boat Friend said is known simply as "the triple."
For the men and women who've taken up this sport, the workout and the spacious Strait of Juan de Fuca provide a blast of refreshment.
Rowing is a joy, said Knowles, for two reasons: growing stronger as the weeks and waves go by and being out there in Port Angeles Harbor with a full view of the mountains.
She's hooked, just like Baumann, who started rowing with the Y crew in June 2009.
"We went all the way through October; we rowed on Halloween, and it was gorgeous," Baumann said, adding that during late fall and winter, the crew gets together for some rowing-machine workouts to prevent pain when they return to the water in spring.
Those interested in rowing in Port Angeles Harbor can phone the YMCA at 360-452-9244 to find out about the Saturday morning Introduction to Rowing course.
In the Port Townsend area, potential rowers can visit www.RatIslandRowing.citymax.com or phone 360-379-8054.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@ peninsuladailynews.com.