On Friday, May 21st, five SBTC rowers and Coach Gluckman headed down to Mercer, NJ to compete in the first annual US Rowing Collegiate Championships. For some of us it was a first opportunity to race on a buoyed course in small boats, and to gain very important experience before U23 Trials later this month on the same course. Johnny Hood raced in 1x on Saturday, placing second in his heat, sending him directly to the final on Sunday morning.
Sunday opened with heavy fog, forcing a half hour delay to the racing. Throughout the day there was a moderate head wind and choppy water, making for interesting racing conditions. Hood raced in the first race of the day,placing third with a time of 8:01.52 and winning Craftsbury’s first medal of the day. The remaining two Craftsbury boats were in lanes one and six in the 2- final. Hank Moore and Ben Johnson placed first with a time of 7:52.53 , edging out Elliott Skopin and Terrence Word by .3 seconds. All told Craftsbury finished the racing with one gold, one silver, and one bronze medal.
Racing in a pair was an entirely different experience from that of an eight, especially since Elliott and I had spent less than a week total in the pair together prior to the race. Siting in the bow, I was responsible for steering, which led me to pay much more attention to where we were on the course. That race felt twice as long as it does in a larger boat, and much more exciting.
Grabbing an early lead in the race allowed Elliott and I the chance to remain calm, which was important given our lack of experience in the pair. We were both pumped up by being in the lead, and worked to keep up the pace throughout the race. Once or twice I looked all the way across the course to lane one, only to see Ben looking right back at me. In the end it was our lack of a sprint that allowed the other pair to inch ahead, that and hitting a buoy with about ten to go. We learned in this race that steering is important, as is staying relaxed and working towards a real sprint.
Along the way, we were supported by Emile and Nancy Schoffelen, who graciously hosted us during the race weekend. Their support was much appreciated both during and in between racing. After racing finished on Sunday we made the eight hour trek back to Craftsbury, making a dinner stop at a classic diner in Deerfield, MA. After a brief rest on Monday morning we jumped right back into training, setting our sights on Trials. So far Elliott and I have made much progress to what is sure to be an exciting and faster race in two weeks.