Coachs’ Daily Blog

Day Ten

While on the way home and wishing for a Hudson shark 8, Coach B gets attacked by an actual shark! While he may be missing an arm or two now, the dream of one day owning a Hudson Shark is still intact.

Day Ten

Below is an email from John Reichner of UTCFS to Joe Dobson of Sarasota Rowing Club on a summary of the many venues the Grand Valley Men’s Rowing team visited over Winter Training 2010-2011:

Following the discussions at Benderson Park yesterday afternoon, I sat down with Coach Bancheri and asked for his thoughts after the past week training here in Sarasota. As you know, Coach and his team are returning to Michigan today so he was not in a position to transcribe the notes made last night. I have tried to reproduce those below as faithfully as possible.

Sarasota has a great advantage in the venues and amenities readily accessible to rowing teams. If a coach wants to have long distance workouts, they have Blackburn Point/ICW. If the coach needs a venue suited for shorter distance speed work, there’s Benderson Park. As you know, training trips do consist of both workouts, so having venues available that provide both opportunities is not only a big plus, it’s something not readily available elsewhere. And you can’t overlook that a lot reasonably priced lodging and restaurants are close by the ICW and Benderson venues … that is not the case in many other places.

In that regard, I think Coach Banchieri’s spring training high level plan for March training back here sums up what the area offers:

Split squads training simultaneously on Benderson and the ICW. This way you can have teams with similar speed and training objectives working separately with different coaches without the distraction that often comes with trying to share venues and attention. For example, John B plans to have his women and men at different venues on different days or times. The available of storage space at Benderson is a big plus in that regard – John plans to keep his fours at Benderson and the 8’s and pairs at Blackburn Point.

Some specific thoughts on the various venues:

Sarasota County RC at Blackburn Point

What is good

– Water at Dryman easily accessible

– Virtually unlimited mileage for long distance workouts

– Reasonably protected water

– Little transient traffic which is good for the security of the boats

– Boat traffic for the large part was very courteous.

– Long wide stretches between manatee zones

– Natural beauty, marine and wild life and structures along the ICW made rowing that much more enjoyable and memorable

– Minnie the Moocher – you can’t find that many other places

– Necessary support facilities (e.g. hotels and restaurants) close by – when the focus is on training time you don’t want to waste time in transit to eat or sleep

– Prices reasonable for the support facilities

What can be worked on

– Boat storage limited (no boathouse or storage area for visitors)

– Need to portage at low tide can be a negative if you are trying to use limited training time to row rather than portage. This could be resolved if there were storage and launch capabilities at the small county park nearby that has deeper water, but you would need to have floating docks, storage capabilities, bathroom and running water to wash the boats. It would be a great location as it is in a no wake zone with few people living nearby.

Overall, all that would be needed for this particular venue in the short term is a bit of infrastructure improvement so you could have the capacity to host more teams


What is good

There simply are not many fixed buoyed courses with no current and protected water. HUGE selling point. When you are training for sprint season, there is no substitute to using a buoyed race course. It trains the coxswains and crews for what they will see at the championship venues

Easy visibility from the shore up and down the course – great for coaches

Lack of transient traffic

Locked storage – our equipment is expensive and this is important

Very close proximity of a number of hotels, restaurants and a lot of parking. In that regard this venue beats virtually all others (e.g., Oak Ridge does not have much nearby in terms of hotels, restaurants – and it sure does not have parking)

Lanes are fair – other venues have some problems in this area

What can be worked on

2000 meters is essential – get that quickly

Restrooms needed if you expect any number of rowers to train here – going into the woods not a great option

When the boathouse and other facilities are completed, there would only be a handful of facilities worldwide

Overall, this can be a world championship facility if folks follow through on the vision. If you get the 2000 meters done quickly, you might be able to get ACRA here as soon as 2012. You would have had a great shot of getting ACRA here this spring if the course had been 2000 meters. Last year there over 1100 participants in that event (and that was in Oklahoma City), and that’s only the tip of the iceberg when you consider it does not include coaches, families, etc.

Fort Hamer

– Good protected water with distance, but a little curvy

– Boathouse facility with restrooms a big plus – well done

– Good launch area and dock

– Water can get choppy where it opens up

– Lack of hotels and restaurants in the immediate vicinity

– Wakes from pleasure boaters were a problem; the folks on the ICW seemed to be more sensitive to the needs of small craft with lower freeboard

Overall, a good facility but not as strong as the other venues in the long run if the infrastructure at the other facilities is improved


A few additional thoughts. Training and races are not all about work. The teams need to enjoy themselves too. However, as coaches we don’t want that enjoyment to go overboard (e.g., too many distractions for Coach B’s team in Panama City last year). There’s a good balance in Sarasota with the beaches (Siesta Key is a treasure) but no real “Spring Break”honky tonk influence.

As for regattas, the selling point is obvious – if you want to attract the families who come to see their son’s, daughters and siblings row (and spend the money this area needs), would you rather be selling the nearby availability of the beaches and Orlando/Tampa, or Oklahoma City/Oak Ridge? I think you have the answer.

Day Ten

Minnie joins us to help start the “Minnie the Moocher” Bowl in her honor.

Day Nine

Took the boys on a “Super Vader” from Sarasota County RC past channel marker 49 (NO I did not hit this one) where we met Alex VanderArk and her dad Duke on their paddleboat in front of their Florida home. We almost made it to the bridge in Englewood. Coach Joe Dobson of the SCRC said noone has ever covered that distance before out of this clubhouse. Another first for our boys!

On the way home we saw Minnie again. “Minnie the Moocher” came next to my coach boat (I could have reached out and pet her) to hang out with me and the team for a while.
She loves us!

From Coach Joe Dobson, Sarasota County Rowing Club:

John, Based on using Google Earth Path measurement from Blackburn Point Bridge in Osprey, down the gulf intracoastal waterway, through Venice, Fl and finishing just past marker 49 in view of the north Manisota Key Bridge, your rowing distance was at least 20 KM or 12.4 Miles each way. Nice row! I hope your athletes weren’t too distracted by the beautiful homes and boats, numerous osprey, pelicans, pristine caribbean blue waters and 200 lb porpoises gliding alongside to get some of the technical work done. Look forward to your return with all of your 60 member team as well as the visiting parents in March to Blackburn Point Park, Osprey, FL, home of Endless Rowing. Joe Dobson

Minnie the Moocher

Day Eight

While observing todays races, Coach B sat at the bar in the Boathouse on the Bay restaurant. While holding both the “Beths Flamingo Bowl” trophy and a shot of Sambuca, he toasted to Aunt “Beft” and her memory.

Day Seven

One of our lead donors for this trip, John Schintzel, is in this Canadian Henley photo after winning the Senior 4-. He is the one of the left, holding the trophy. John was the one guy who, when I was a student, encouraged me to get into coaching. We have been friends since our days at the University of Charleston and he has been one of the lead donors for both Henley and Florida trips for the past few years.

Day Six

Coach Bancheri and the Men’s Varsity Team enjoying a meal at Woody’s River Roo Bar in Ellenton, FL.

Day Five

Coach B enjoying our day at Siesta Key Beach and the scenery

Day Four

Vinnie Puma with Coach Bancheri on New Year’s Eve at a fancy Italian restaurant in Miami, FL.

Day Three

The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club opened the first full day of their “Rockin’-n-Rowin” Tour with the “Gulf of Mexico P.p.s. Bowl.” The team rowed a long Cat VI workout focused on posture and timing. Drills isolated the outside arm. Mid practice the guys rowed their four (two coxed and two straight) fours into Midnight Pass.

After a quick snack, the boats/oars were portaged over a sand dune into the Gulf of Mexico. The guys continued practice drills rowing over a 500 meter stretch in front of writer Stephen King’s home. At the end of the practice, the crews were lined up for a 250 meter “Propulsion per stroke” race. The guys in the “Richard Laurance” won in 11 strokes. We then portaged back onto Midnight Pass and rowed into Sarasota Bay back to our host boathouse on Dryman Island.

The Sarasota County Rowing Club and Coach Joe Dobson have been fantastic hosts. The price is right and the water is better than I thought, with Bentleys Resort Hotel only 0.9 miles from the venue. Endless miles, lots of water life and beautiful scenery. It can be a little bumpy at times but for a flat water crew like GVSU, that is just what we need.

Great fun and we are all having a fantastic experience! Did I say lots of miles too!?

Day One

After a long drive fueled by a great packaged lunch provided on our
departure by Christine Scott, our Advisor. We have arrived.

We have arrived safely this morning in Osprey (just south of Sarasota),
FL. The boats are unloaded and will be rigged after our athletes take a
nap at our resort. A few of the guys are being picked up at the airport
and we get on the water at 3pm for a L.A.S.S. row. I hope we get to see
“Minnie the Moocher”. She’s an older dolphin that hangs out by one of
the bridges in Venice.

We have a fantastic week planned with a lot of variety, long rows,
competitive sessions and some rays at the beach. We might even sneak a
quick “photo op” row on the Gulf of Mexico if there is a flat morning or

Thanks again for the donors who made this trip possible.

The Grand Valley State University Rowing Club challenges its student-athletes to reach the highest level to which they aspire both academically and athletically, while continuing to build and sustain a nationally competitive intercollegiate rowing program.

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