Racing at the collegiate level was like taking a very hard final exam except that your results are instantly known by all, the moment you finish. The preparation was hard work and the pre-race buildup, intense and stressful. The finish couldn’t come fast enough and the physical pain to get there was harder than anything I could have imagined. That all went away the moment the bow crossed the finish line and the cox yelled “paddle”! If we were lucky enough to win, the overwhelming elation was indescribable. I’ve never experienced anything like it in anything I’ve ever done. Too bad we didn’t win more. But then, how could anyone ever get too many wins?!
Unfortunately, I remember my first 2KM race more than any other. I was in the novice 8 rowing against UCLA on Bologna Creek. To reach the 1KM mark seemed like hours. Unfortunately, my crewmate, in the 4-seat, jumped the slide around the 300M mark and wasn’t able to recover. To make matters worse he was by far the heaviest dude in the boat. So, our 8 became a 7 and we had to dig painflly deep to pull his 220 lb dead weight for an eternity to reach the finish line. That was the longest, but NOT the most forgettable race of my rowing days.
My favorite race was the 1979 dual meet UCI vs. Long Beach. I moved from Novice 8 to JV8 as the racing season began my first year. We ended up winning our race in Marine Stadium of Long Beach. We led from start to finish but the Varsity 8 lost. Of course, we didn’t let that put a damper on our big win! We were on cloud 9, celebrating while our varsity teammates quietly discounted our, comparably, tiny JV win. We were later advised that we showed too much enjoyment in spite of the V8 loss. Of course, the V8 had the last laugh that year when they avenged that loss and came from behind to beat Long Beach at the Western Sprints on a cold, windy Lexington Res. in Los Gatos. The JV8 took third. But, we were all so stoked and proud of our V8 crewmates that we all feasted that night at Charlie’s Chili and had a blast!
At the end of the ’79 season, Bob Newman took the UCI V8 to England to race at Henley. He then left UCI to coach at our rival, UCLA. Mike “Sully” Sullivan took over as head coach and I moved into the V8 boat. Sully, arranged for the JV8 and V8 boats to travel and compete in the “Opening Day Regatta” in Seattle, WA. It was a ton of fun, even if we didn’t win the race. Sully arranged for us to get a personal tour by Stan Pocock of his boat building workshop. As a young engineer, it was a fascinating experience!
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