Local rowers compete at Pittsburgh regatta

PITTSBURGH – John Wiseman of Parkersburg and Les Pritchard of Vienna fared well in the 27th annual Head of the Ohio Regatta in Pittsburgh on Oct. 5.

The Head of the Ohio Regatta celebrates the beauty, majesty and energy of Pittsburgh’s rivers, according to the regatta’s website. The day-long festival is described as one of Pittsburgh’s premier outdoor events, featuring outdoor activities and entertainment for all ages.

This year there were 67 events with more than 75 high schools, universities and rowing clubs participating.

The race is on a timed course that travels 2.6 miles up the Allegheny River from the point at Three Rivers.

Wiseman finished in 20 minutes and 58 seconds to win a bronze medal. Pritchard finished fourth at 22:59.

Wiseman and Pritchard competed in the Masters F class racing single shells. The rowing shells are approximately 20-inches wide, 20-feet long and weigh approximately 32 pounds.

Because both rowers practice on the Ohio River and row out of the Ohio Valley Rowing Club in Parkersburg, they were used to rowing on a large body of water, they said.

Wiseman and Pritchard have been rowing with a group of master rowers this summer who have been rowing together in singles, doubles and four-person boats.

The two Wood County residents said they had a great time at the Pittsburgh regatta and expect more masters rowers to join them in racing next year. Masters competition starts at age 23.

A giant yellow rubber ducky, a floating sculpture designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, was at the Pittsburgh regatta.

“It was quite impressive from the water,” Pritchard said of the sculpture that is traveling throughout the world.

Wiseman and Pritchard rowed for Parkersburg High School as youths.

Pritchard has rowed for several years after high school.

Wiseman started rowing again last year. It was the second competition for Wiseman, who was pleased to receive a bronze medal.

Wiseman said navigating an unfamiliar body of water while rowing backward under nine bridges was challenging.

Wiseman and Pritchard said they are looking forward to expanding the masters rowing program at the Ohio Valley Rowing Club and attending more races next year.

One of the largest one-day regattas in the country, the Head of the Ohio attracts rowers of all abilities from juniors, to masters, to Olympians, as well as collegiate rowers from more than 75 colleges and universities.

More than just a rowing race, the Head of the Ohio highlights all aspects of recreation along Pittsburgh’s riverfront – both on and off the water, according to its website.

The Head of the Ohio Regatta is hosted by Three Rivers Rowing Association.