DERRY — It's the new crew in town.
Pinkerton Academy now sports a new rowing club to add to its long list of activities and opportunities for students.
A Pinkerton regatta was held last Saturday at Lake Massabesic in Auburn, giving more than 40 students who are part of the team a chance to race against each other for top honors.
Students, families and other onlookers came out to the lake early in the morning to watch the new student rowers.
Information about rowing possibilities was presented during the annual club fair held earlier this fall.
Brenda Balenger, director of rowing with Row America, said she approached the school to see if there was any interest.
She said Pinkerton's informal group is a new foray into crew in the region. She is leading the program at Pinkerton. A rowing center may eventually be built near the public boat launch at Lake Massabesic.
"We hope to have opportunities for all our schools," she said.
Several schools in the Manchester area already have crew teams.
Balenger formerly coached at Derryfield School and also has experience coaching rowers of all age skills and levels.
The Sunapee native has a long list of rowing and leadership credits, including competitive team rowing and as a co-founder of the Lake Sunapee Rowing Club.
Pinkerton headmaster Griffin Morse and trustee Timothy Butterfield were among parents and friends lining the shores of the lake to watch the rowing action.
"We are very excited," Morse said.
Junior Rayne Stocking of Derry knew she wanted to try rowing.
"I used to watch a crew team in Exeter when I was little," Rayne said.
She said it takes some practice to perfect the strokes while in the boat. It also takes a bit of a toll on the novice rower.
"Your legs get tired, but during practice they switch us around," she said.
The Pinkerton team heads to the water several times a week.
Students go out in teams of four or eight, with a designated coxswain sitting in the end to help coordinate the team's rowing rhythm and oar power. Boats can weigh more than 100 pounds, depending on their size.
Coaching assistant Richard Jackson was the official finish line point for the crew members as they raced across the lake.
He said the cool morning temperatures were ideal.
"As long as there is no ice," he said.
Jackson said students starting out need to get the feel of the boat, and how to handle its stability.
"Then you have to believe it," Jackson said. "Then you are okay."
He said Balenger has a great way of engaging students who want to learn crew.
"She has a great way of getting students enthusiastic," he said.
But the rowing can be tough on a new crew member, Jackson said.
Sophomore Mason Beauchamp of Candia said learning to handle the boat is something new he enjoys.
"On the first day, it was hard to learn," he said. "But it gets easier."
Fellow sophomore Nicholas Plante also raced several times with his teammates during the Pinkerton regatta.
He said it's all about rowing in sync.
"I enjoy it, it's a team effort," he said.
Chloe Pacocha, 15, of Chester said she was having fun racing against her friends.
Her mother, Kim, said the Pinkerton program is great and something unique.
"I think it's incredible, Chloe loves it," Pacocha said. "I think it's a boon for Pinkerton."