days left until the Charles Party!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I think my first real awareness of the so-called "Regatta of Death" (formally known as the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, or FOQR) was in 2000, back when the US M4- qualified for Sydney, and in the process took Mike Wherley out of the three-time world Champion Men's Eight, due to the "ringer rule" (As an athlete, you HAVE to race in the boat you qualified at the FOQR). At least that's how the legend goes. In any case, switching Mike out for Dave Simon didn't work out very well.

In 2004, Riverside's Kent Smack successfully navigated it with the men's quad, along with Steve and Greg in the lightweight double. Kent was sending nearly daily updates from the front, and it was really cool to see the journey through his eyes. Steve and Greg were a surprise non-qualifier in 2003, so we expected them to qualify, and they did not disappoint. Their racing in Athens didn't go quite as well as some of their World Cup results from that summer, and still makes me wonder "what if?" from time to time.

In 2008, I had far more important and stressful things going on, but I still remember being very impressed with Ken Jurkowski qualifying the M1x from there, and being disappointed that there would be no LM2X in Beijing. The LW2X also made it, and were looking like a solid medal contender, but ended up in the B-final in Beijing.

In 2012, I had spent most of the spring training with Gevvie, and was definitely yelling at my monitor quite a bit on finals day. Qualification was by no means a sure thing, and it was awesome to see her qualify. The excitement was a bit tempered by the LM2x and M2X not qualifying. I'd known Will Daly since he graduated from BU and came to RBC in 2006, and had known Sam Stitt for even longer. Andrew was a local, as well, but he was still an undergrad, so we knew he'd be back for more. (Both Gevvie and Andrew are, I am sure, enjoying the 2016 trip to Lucerne far more than 2012). Tony Fahden and the LM4- surprised everyone, including maybe even themselves, and qualified. The men's eight, (much like 2016) also took scenic route, as did Margot and Sarah Trowbridge. Results were mixed, but the glass was definitely at least half full.

So that brings us to yesterday. While I am super psyched that we will have a men's eight in Rio, as a sculler, I am crushed not to see a single heavyweight men's sculling boat joining them. And unlike most of the men's eight (except Glenn), I know most of the guys in the sculling boats, in particular the double and the quad. I've hung out with them, I've photographed them, and have even gone down the same race course as all of them (some may even call it "racing", though the margins may sometimes indicate otherwise). I watched them train in freezing cold on the Charles, and in (beautiful) nowhere Vermont. I've seen Steve go from Penn AC to GMS(virtually) to Craftsbury. I raced Peter (and brother Tom) when they were still in high school. And I've seen John emerge from the mist on little Hosmer doing drills at first light. So yeah, for this one, the glass is just about upside down. For some of the guys, this might be the end of the road, for others, just the beginning. But to all of them, I do hope they got a lot of the journey, because in the end, it matters almost as much as the destination. Well rowed, guys. And see you at Green Mountain. From the safety of the 35-44 single. :)

Peter and Willy, in the quad last summer, at Craftsbury

Craftsbury Steve

Penn AC Steve.

Ben Davison, racing the Charles, after whooping up on most of us at HOK the weekend before.

John in the mists at Craftsbury

John and Ben Dann with icicles on the Charles, in late 2013.

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