Moving Lives Forward Instead of Just Moving Boats

The rowing season is canceled. Teams train for hours a day, pour their literal blood, sweat and tears into erg tests and seat races in an effort to propel themselves and their teams into a winning position. With the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic comes the grief and loss of the cancellation of these events.

Ben Steele and David DeWinter weren’t going to sit by and let the efforts of their athletes go to waste. Together, they decided they were going to create a challenge that youth rowers and athletes of the Pacific Northwest could participate in to take the place of the annual Regional Regatta, which for many teams is the pinnacle of their season as they fight for their spot at Nationals.

The Coronathon was born.

All you need in order to compete is access to the Google Doc and four virtual friends. The competition is scored based on the amount of activity and intensity levels. For each minute of activity, you get certain points. For high-intensity activities, you can score up to four points per minute. For lower intensity activity, like stretching, you need five minutes to get one point. Points are also scored through other means such as hosting a virtual workout or cooking a meal for your family.

“The question we started with was, ‘what is something we could create that embodies the spirit of regionals—the camaraderie you have with your team and the competition you have within the North West?’” Said DeWinter, coach at Sammamish Rowing Association and Fonder of RowHero.

“There are many other virtual events popping up across the country, but none of them felt special for the region. Most focus on erging (and not everyone has an erg), and competition doesn't include the whole boathouse. So, Ben and I got together and decided to make our own.”

The pair wanted to focus on effort over speed, to make the event welcoming to athletes of all levels and abilities.

“When I was looking into the other virtual competitions, they all had one thing in common, erg scores. While I love this for my more senior athletes it gives almost no motivation for my younger members,” said Steele, Director of Vashon Island Rowing Club.

“It was very important to me that whatever Vashon signed up for we could include our entire spectrum of athletes.”

DeWinter, a juniors’ coach since 2018, knows what a huge part of the year Regionals is to his athletes. He is hoping that this event can help to fill that hole. “If we can help [boathouses] significantly raise the excitement and engagement of their rowers during this time, then we'll have done our job.”

Steele feels similarly, he hopes that this will give everyone an opportunity to view the sport of rowing in a different light and realize not everything is about speed.

“I am hoping it can shed some light on our weaknesses as a rowing community, such as inclusivity and what ‘winning’ should really mean to young athletes, said Steele. “Our sport is so focused on how fast you are all the time, and I think this event can impact how we look at the sport; moving lives forward instead of just moving boats.

To follow the competition, simply go to the Google Doc using this URL:

For more information email: or

213 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All