This regatta is the biggest race of the year for US “Masters.” (A rower aged 27 or older.)
It’s one of the most prestigious events in US Rowing. There are dozens of categories and age groups based on the combined average age of the crew.
Our category was Mixed Doubles with the age category 55-59. (Iva being 34 plus my 83.) There were 13 boats in our category, which required two preliminary races. We came in 3rdin the first elimination. And just by literally a half of a second, missed number 5 in the final heat. It was a very exciting race. So therefore, we came in sixth out of 13 boats. Which, for our first major race, and our first race together for Iva and I, we look upon as a moral victory. You start in a line with someone holding the stern of your boat in your prescribed lane. This was a sprint race of 1000m. So, all six or seven boats in each heat were side by side. The next step is to wait for what seems like an eternity, until the umpire finally says, “Ready, GO!” with the red light going on simultaneously. You do a sprint start of about 20-30 strokes, from a standing stop. One misplaced oar can lose the whole race for you. So, one must be powerful but careful.
Then, you move into your race pace for 600 meters. You optimistically set your “race pace” at a high enough level to practically kill yourself. Finally, you get to the finish, where you pick up speed and give it everything that’s left and then some. They say if you have one more stroke left in you when you crossed the line, you haven’t worked hard enough. But that’s rowing. Nobody said you were going out for a walk in the park.
We came away from this first race with the knowledge that we can do much better—and will. But we sure didn’t do badly either and were quite happy, with smiles on our faces all the way home.