Archive for July, 2010

Henley 2010, in Retrospect

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

by outgoing team president Michael Stoll

After a little more than two weeks in Henley, we were all ready to get home to see our family and friends. We raced hard and did everything we could to prepare for this trip of a lifetime. Our experiences were numerous; no two people share the same story from the beginning to the end of the trip with excursions to the likes of Scotland, Bath, Oxford, London, and more. Looking back, it was one of the greatest experiences a graduating senior could ask for.

Upon our arrival, all three boats were focused and determined to win their respective event. After putting in an extra month of training following our last regular season race, these Lakers were poised to make waves at this years’ Henley Royal Regatta. The first success was the Men’s Varsity 4+ qualifying for the Prince Albert cup. They were among 8 of 33 teams that qualified to join the previously selected 8 teams.

Having only seen the women’s team as the men arrived, we were fortunate to have them race at the Reading Town Regatta as well. The Women’s 4+ defeated Green Lake Crew USA, following a week without training while the Men’s 4+ defeated Yale in the semi-final before falling just short of a fast Georgetown crew in the finals. The Men’s 8+ shook things up a bit after a mediocre performance in the morning. Geoff Sadek was moved to stroke, Jeff Slater to six, Chad Condon to four, and the previous stroke, Mike Stoll, back to two seat. The men came off the line blazing in their second race defeating West End Rowing Club of New Zeeland and the local Shiplake College. In the finals, however, they lost to Kent School USA by three-quarters of a length.

With a little racing under their belts, the men looked forward to the main event. Tuesday was upon us and the team went down to cheer on Marty Reed and Dan Schoolcraft in the spare pair race. The pair was victorious in their first race after a near collision at the finish, but was unsuccessful in crossing the line first in the finals against Cambridge. Unfortunately, the Men’s 4+ fell victim to the same fate the next day, losing to Goldie Boat Club (Cambridge University).

The Men’s 8+ had a favorable draw and defeated Durham University “B” by 3¾ lengths on Wednesday. They faced off against Dad Vail Champion, Brock University, from Canada and after a lightning fast start by Brock, the Lakers were unable to make up the initial difference, with the final margin being 1¼ length. With all of the Grand Valley boats out of the regatta, we were left to cheer for our Norwegian housemates from Norske Studenters Roklub and Tonsberg Roklubb in the quad the following day. The quad from Norway found themselves down the first half of the race but rallied through their opponent as they came upon a group of loud Grand Valley fans! They continued to hold off the trailing crew as another wave of Grand Valley fans along with family of the Norwegians at the finish line. Racing again the following day, the quad was knocked out by Leander.

The various exiting from the regatta was followed by different stories of night life experiences. As the week progressed and more teams were knocked out, the local pub in Henley, the Catherine Wheel, became more crowded with rowers celebrating the end of their season. It was incredible to socialize with a crew from Japan, our Norwegian friends, the Canadians of Brock, and many others. Having cooked for the national team during our first week in Henley, we were also able to celebrate their victory in the 4-. It was a thrill to meet these behemoths, guys who towered over Breck Davis, who is 6’6” and some of the guys even added us on Facebook.

We were fortunate enough to take a day trip to Bath and on the way stopped by Stonehenge, a somewhat mysterious site constructed thousands of years ago. In Bath, we got a sneak look inside the Bath Abbey, visited the museum downstairs, and were free to walk around the town for an hour or so. Most of us took the opportunity to eat, some taking comfort in Burger King while others ate at “Bath’s Smallest Pub,” with seating maxing out at about 30.

The next day a group of us traveled to London and we spent the day there walking through museums, photographing Big Ben and the Parliament Building, Westminster Abbey, and other sites. We were lucky to get to Buckingham Palace right as the Changing of the Guard was occurring and we couldn’t have timed it better. We also saw the London Eye, ate lunch on a huge boat, and traveled around on the Underground.

Sooner than we expected, 5:30am rolled around Wednesday morning and we loaded the bus with our friendly driver Tony, on our way to the airport. We arrived in plenty of time, had some breakfast, and boarded the Boeing 777 equipped with individual TVs in the headrests so that each person could choose their own movie or TV show to watch. Upon our arrival in Chicago, we quickly realized that our flight at 4:45 had been canceled and chaos ensued as some of us tried to board the plane leaving in 5 minutes for Grand Rapids and other tried to find the gate of our later departure. To make a long story short, 10 people made the 1:55 flight, 2 went to Detroit, and 6 went to Kalamazoo to be picked up by Bob Stoll. The Kalamazoo flight saw even further delays on the runway but eventually everyone made it home safe and sound, although that was not the case with our bags. Not to worry, everyone’s bag is accounted for, even if some people might not pick it up until they return in August!

Looking back, we spent two weeks in England with some of our closest friends, friends who will reminisce about how fast we were in 20 years and friends that some of us have made memories with the last four years. To say that this trip was an “opportunity” is an understatement, it was truly a gift, and one that came with a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work. We are so thankful for everyone who made this possible.

Picture is (c) Row2k and available for purchase here.

GVSU Alum Wins Gold in Lucerne

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is not the only World Cup competition that is occurring this weekend. Former GVSU rower, Sarah Zelenka, is representing the United States in Lucerne, Switzerland while competing in the 2010 International Rowing Federation (FISA) Rowing World Cup III.

Sarah, rowing bow seat, helped the US Women’s Eight qualify for the Grand Finals on Friday when her boat won their preliminary heat in a time of 6:07.76 ahead of Germany, China and Poland.

Sarah tasted success this Saturday when she and three other US teammates crossed the finish line first, winning Gold in the Women’s Four without coxswain in a time of 6:47.87 ahead of Germany, China and India. Germany finished second with a time of 6:54.07, giving the US the win with open water.

Sarah was a member of several winning boats while at Grand Valley including the 2009 Dad Vail Champions Women’s D1 Varsity Eight. Last summer she competed for the US in the U-23 World Championship in the Women’s Four without coxswain where they finished sixth. Sarah is the only female member of the Laker Navy to ever participate on a national team and also win a medal.

Sarah had another chance to medal when the US Women’s Eight competed against the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, Germany and China this Sunday in the Grand Finals Sunday afternoon. After a slow start that saw the USA down to both Canada and Great Britain, the Americans slowly inched back into the race through the middle 1000m. In a truly amazing final sprint, the United States overcame the one second deficit to inch out the Canadians at the line by 0.2 seconds. The victory marked Zelenka’s second this weekend. She will now return to Princeton, NJ to train in preparation for selection to the World Championships in New Zealand this November.

Additional links:

  • “Lightning Fast Saturday in Lucerne” courtesy row2k
  • row2k Image One
  • row2k Image Two
  • GVSU Men Bow Out to Brock University

    Thursday, July 1st, 2010

    After defeating Durham University on Wednesday, Grand Valley Rowing’s Varsity 8 bowed out to Dad Vail Champions Brock University in today’s heat at the Henley Royal Regatta, officially finishing one and one-fourths of a boat length behind Brock.

    The second round of the Temple Challenge Cup commenced for the GVSU rowers at 2:35 p.m. local time, as the GVSU crew lined up at the Berkshire Station against Brock University, the winners of the men’s varsity 8+ at the 2010 Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia. Brock would jump ahead immediately off the race’s beginning.

    “They just had us off the start, but they never gained any more than what they gained off the start,” sophomore coxswain Hallie Dorsey said.

    Down the course, Brock would record a time of 1:54 at the Barrier, 3:14 at Fawley, and finish the race with a time of 6:48. For the Henley Royal Regatta, only times for the winning crews are announced; also, regarding the Barrier and Fawley, landmarks are used in lieu of mileage or distance markers.

    “They didn’t take any moves, that I saw,” Dorsey continued. “When we took our move through the center, it seemed as if we were going to regain ground, but they were just faster.”

    Officially, Grand Valley was listed as finishing one and one-fourths of a boat length behind Brock.

    “Towards the end, it was just really difficult to bring it up for the sprint,” Dorsey said. “We gained a couple of seats, but again, we just ran out of time. It was more of a race against the clock.”

    The final lineup of the Men’s Varsity 8+ saw senior Scott Feil in bow, senior Mike Stoll at two, sophomore Jimmy Wilkie at three, and freshman Chad Condon at four. Senior Breck Davis rowed at five, with fellow senior Jeff Slater at six; former assistant coaches Mark McIlduff and Geoff Sadek rounded out the boat at seven and stroke, respectively. Again, sophomore Hallie Dorsey fulfilled the coxswain role.

    “It felt like I was giving all I could. I kept trying, but it just didn’t happen,” senior Breck Davis said.

    For official results from the Henley Royal Regatta, please click here. The GVSU men’s team remains in England through July 7th, when they will be returning to the United States. This is the end of the 2009-2010 rowing season; the 2010-2011 season unofficially commences with boathouse recruiting tours, beginning on the Allendale campus August 30th. The novice call-out meeting is 9 p.m., September 1st.

    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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