Petaluma 17-under rowing team qualifies for Youth Nationals

Five young teens who hardly knew one another a year ago have rowed their way into the nation’s most prestigious youth competitions. The North Bay Rowing Club’s team is headed to the US Rowing Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Fla. June 9-12.

The team includes Peter Carpenter, Kole Daigle, Trystan Morse, Rocco Smith and coxswain Cody Davis. They range in age from 13 to 16 years old, and will compete in the men’s under-17 4+ division against the best in the nation in their age group.

Directed by NBRC Juniors Head Coach Pam Hughes, the team is based at the NBRC clubhouse and practice five days a week on the Petaluma River.

The rowers come from a variety of different communities and schools. Carpenter and Daigle are Casa Grande High School students. Morse attends Quest Forward Academy in Santa Rosa, Smith attends Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa and coxswain Davis, the youngest of the group, is a student at Good Shepherd Middle School. Alternate Elijah Vaca attends Kenilworth Junior High School.

Although they have varying amounts of rowing experience, they share a passion for their sport.

Carpenter was a soccer player until he injured his knee. “I needed something that that wouldn’t hurt my knee, so I thought I would try rowing, and I fell in love with it. The second I come through the gate (for practice) I am rejuvenated,” he said.

Once through the gate, Carpenter believes in working hard. “You get out of it what you put into it,” he said of his approach to the sport. “Rowing is a high intensity, big reward sport.”

“Rowing is the reason I get up in the morning,” said Daigle.

The team hasn’t had a lot of time to train together. They began last August, but, like everything else, their workouts and competitions have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That hasn’t stopped them from coming together as a team.

“They have a special bond,” Hughes observed. “They seem to have a way of making each other happy. “They are intent in getting better as a group. They are always driving one another.”

“Rowing is a team sport,” said Carpenter. “You know that if you don’t put in the effort you are going to be letting the team down.”

“There is a strong commitment to the team” agreed Smith. “You want to row strong for the team.”

The comradry extends to coxswain Davis. Although most of the rowers are twice his size, when they are in the boat, he is the boss.

“If the Coxswain tells you to row off a cliff, you row off a cliff,” said Smith. “We mess (kid) with him sometimes, but we know who is in charge.”

“It is a weird feeling,” said Davis. “But I don’t have any trouble being in charge.”

The Petaluma-based team qualified for the nationals by finishing among the top four in the US Rowing Southwest Championships held on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif.

The North Bay Rowing Club was founded in 1984 by Greg Sabourin and was built around open-water rowing. It now offers a diverse range of rowing activities for both youth and adults, including its competitive high school rowing team, a non-competitive team for junior high school athletes and summer camps for middle and high-school age students.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the NBRC team with the expense of traveling to the Nationals in Florida. The page can be found at

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