Once again, I competed with my team (Southern California Scullers) at the USRowing Club
Nationals. This year, the competition was being held in Oak Ridge, TN at Melton Lake Park. I intended on entering in just four events; but our ad-hoc team manager saw fit to enter me in six events total: Men’s senior quad, Men’s intermediate quad, Men’s senior lightweight double, Men’s intermediate lightweight double, Men’s senior lightweight quad, and Men’s intermediate lightweight quad. So four lightweight events and two open-weight events.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with lightweights versus open-weights, lightweights need to weigh less than 160 pounds. Open-weights, as the name suggests, have no limit. Racing took place from a Wednesday through Sunday (5 days) with Finals occurring on Friday and Sunday. For the Wed-Fri Heats, semi, and final racing I had four events to contest: Men’s senior quad, both of the lightweight quads, and the senior lightweight single. The good news was that we were in Friday’s finals for all four events. The bad news was that we had four finals…
Senior Lightweight Double (2X) – The most important race (at least to me) was the Men’s Senior Lightweight Double. My partner (Will Young) and I were planning to race the national selection regatta #2 this year; but missed out due to work/family related conflicts. So this was a major race for us to see how fast we could make a boat move together. We raced this event almost immediately after the final for the Men’s senior quad, so we were a little tuckered out (we placed third in that event). Regardless we started the Lwt double fast and had the lead for the 1st half of the race with Undine’s A boat right with us. 1000 meters in, we were tied with Undine and we both maintained that spacing all the way up to the finish line. Undine edged us out of 1st by <0.7 seconds. It was a good race. Would have loved to win; but Undine put up an excellent race. Good work guys.
Intermediate Men’s Quad – I entered into a few ‘open weight’ events. Last year I was entered into this event and my boat got 2nd behind Potomac Boat Club’s entry. This year we were looking to win the event with a completely new lineup. Two new guys came to join my friend Eric and I. We had heats for this event on Saturday, and easily won our heat with what felt like a 50% effort. So we felt good for the final that took place on Sunday. In the final, our boat executed a really good start and first 500 and was looking to take 1st over Vesper. Sadly, we caught a boat stopping crab (that is someone lost their oar, and it starts to drag in the water). We dropped to 3rd; but hit it hard to get back into 2nd and eventually back into 1st at 1000 meters in. Then…..the same person who caught the crab, caught a second, and third. We dropped back again to 2nd and with only ~500 meters almost managed to climb to 1st; but were 0.6 seconds behind Vesper..
Without those boat-stoppers, what would have happened? I guess we will never know.
Men’s Intermediate Lightweight 2X – My last event of the week (out of 6!) was the intermediate lightweight men’ts 2X. Like the Men’s open 4X, the heats for this were on Saturday, the day before the final. My partner, Derrick, and I won our heat; but by only a sliver. Times in the 3 heats for the top 2 boats were all within ~2 seconds. So we went into this race not knowing what was going to happen. Also, this being the 6th final (not including heats/semis) of the week. We were both pretty tired. Honestly I did not have high hopes for this race on our way to the start (especially since someone else took my oars that I typically race in!!!)
Anyways, by the time we were at the stared, we both had the mentality: “screw it, I don’t care if I am tired, these other boats are going to have to kill themselves to pass us!” Despite thinking this, we had a sub-par start and ended up last of the line. About 500 meters in we started to climb up. First to
4th, then to 3rd. By 1000 meters in we, along with the other two boats in the top 3 were tied and trading placement every few strokes. Eventually, I just yelled out to Derrick ‘Gold’ and then we just hit it all the way to the finish. With only about 10 strokes to go we rowed to 1st and ended the week as the national champions of the event!