The Newport Sea Base Rybus twins qualify for the World Rowing Championship

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The twin brothers Clay and Sean Rybus are light rowers, which means each must weigh less than 150 pounds to compete.

When the Rybus twins took part in the U19 national team’s rowing trials in Sarasota, Florida, there were no such requirements.

“There were guys who were a lot stronger than Sean and I, a lot bigger, a lot faster,” said Clay. “That was a great challenge for us. One way to do this was to learn to row the boat in perfect sync and work on our swing. “

The 17-year-old twins, prospective seniors at Newport Harbor High School who represent Newport Sea Base Rowing, have proven that size doesn’t always matter.

They took first place in the tests on Wednesday in the junior double class and booked their ticket to Bulgaria for the 2021 Junior World Championships in August.

Clay sits in the lifting seat and Sean in the bow seat in the two-man boat. They are trained at Newport Sea Base by James Long-Lerno, a Long Beach native who rowed at Orange Coast College and later on Cal.

Charlie Koontz, the duo’s assistant coach, will be a senior in Georgetown University’s rowing program.

“James was on the U23 national team in college and is really excited to see that all of his coaching has paid off,” said Sean. “His job is worth it right now.”

The promotion to the U19 national team was the highlight of several days of competition for the Rybus twins. At the same location in Sarasota last weekend, they finished fifth in the US Rowing Youth National Regatta.

From left: Clay Rybus, Trainer James Long-Lerno and Sean Rybus.

(Courtesy Newport Sea Base Rowing)

Clay and Sean finished first in the U19 1,900m time trial on Wednesday morning against five other teams, including the Maritime Rowing Club of Connecticut, Malvern Prep School of Pennsylvania, the Sarasota Crew and the two Oak Neck Academy teams from New York .

That afternoon, the Sea Base twins won the last race over 2,000 meters by six seconds.

“We didn’t know what the crews were going to bring out because we’ve never really driven them,” said Sean. “But Clay and I knew it would be our race if we just went hard in the first 1,000. We used to have problems with that, so we just went out hard and did our best to get first place. “

Clay said none of the twins have ever been out of the country so a trip to Bulgaria should be quite an experience. They’ve been training together in a two-man boat since last summer, during the coronavirus pandemic, after they originally started rowing as a freshman.

“To be honest, I don’t think it hit me yet,” said Clay. “I know when I have all my gear and train with other teams, it will hit me. I am very excited to meet other people in this series.

“I think it will be cool to see all the other countries. One thing people do when you go to worlds is they swap uniforms with each other, so I think it would be really cool to get some national merchs from other teams. “

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At the Youth Nationals in Florida, the eight teams from the Newport Aquatics Center achieved top 10 placements in both sexes.

The boys team with helmsman Adam Casler, Johnny Sherburne, Jake Bascaglio, Cannon Kenney, Will Deutschman, Aidan Murphy, Kian Aminian and Zach Vorrath finished sixth in the nation.

The eighth of the NAC girls with helmsman Hannah Hykes, Miya Meskis, Fiona Batstone, Gabby Babin, Sheya Lavin, Melissa MacKenzie, Annie Buda, Chloe Zollman and Skylar Wilkison took ninth place.

It was the first eight of the NAC girls’ school to reach the national level since 2016.

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