Archive for July, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Men's Racing at Henley Royal Regatta

Justin Ebert
Athlete: Justin Ebert, bow, Men’s Varsity 8+
Year & Major: Sophomore, Classics/Economics
Hometown: Egg Harbor Township, NJ
High School: Egg Harbor Township High
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: Puzzles are largely underestimated and generally forgotten. If you happen to have some free time, you should invest.

This morning was our last in Henley-on-Thames. I realize it has been a number of days since our last blog update, so I’ll try to recap our experience lately.

Wednesday morning we woke up and started our normal daily routine. After more than a week of practicing at the racecourse, we were looking forward to competition. Of course we were all dealing with some degree of nervousness, but the mood was positive through encouraging pre-race words from Coach B. and to our departure from the dock. In my opinion, the feel of the boat during the warm up was close to the best it had been in the last couple weeks. This gave us confidence as we made our way up the river, and then back down toward the starting platforms.

We pulled in next to Oxford-Brooks B and acquired our point down the course. A couple minutes later, an official called us to sit ready and signaled the start. The first 10-20 strokes found us with a slight advantage over Oxford-Brooks. We extended our lead and led them through the first half of the race. However, we weren’t able to maintain this. A variety of factors contributed to what ended up being one of our less-commendable second-half performances, and with what they described as their “best rowing yet this year”, Oxford-Brooks was able to push through. The verdict was 2/3 of a length.

We were all disappointed. That was blatantly obvious. We would not have the opportunity to continue competing – the reason why we had come to the regatta. It took us a little while to deal with that reality.

However, we did learn that our race posted the two fastest times of the day for the Temple Cup. This simply means that while our performance against our particular opponent that day did not merit advancement in the competition, we were a competitive crew. Our race with Oxford-Brooks was without question the most competitive of our event for the day. In fact, our times remained the fastest for the Temple Cup for the next two days.

The remainder of the week has been filled with lots of time watching races at the course and cheering for our crew of choice (U.S. boats when possible). Yesterday a few of us were able to see a number of events for which new course records were set – and that’s pretty sweet if you ask me. When not at the course, different groups of the team spent time at local pubs, in Lego Land, at Windsor Castle, on a homemade, row-able lawn/picnic table, and at a rope swing on the Thames, among other things. Personally, my favorite time was just sitting together on the patio behind the Row Barge (pub), chatting and enjoying our last evening in Henley-on-Thames.

Our trip to Henley was dosed with a bit of disappointment this year. None of us expected the result, and all had hoped to continue further. But even in spite of this, I can say that the members of the Laker Navy made the most of their time in England. I don’t think I speak only for myself when I say that the memories I have been able to make here with my teammates are invaluable to me. The trip, beginning to end, was defined by good moods, a lot of laughter, and some adventures in some really cool places – especially as the area relates to our sport.

I can’t express thoroughly enough the gratitude that we feel toward any who have contributed to our Henley Trip 2013. Thank you.

Men’s Varsity 8+ falls short of advancing to the Second Round – HRR

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Laker Navy Fall short to Oxford Brookes University

On Sunday, July 3, 2013, the mens Varsity 8+ raced in the first round of the Temple Challenge Cup at 2:05 p.m. local time, against Oxford Brookes University “B”. Unfortunately, Oxford Brookes University proved to be the faster crew in the end. Grand Valley Rowing club jumped off the start and held ahead of Oxford Brookes University “B” throughout the race but was overcame by Oxford Brookes University just before the Stewards Inclosure. Oxford Brookes University would finish 2/3 a length ahead of Grand Valley State, with a final winning time of 6:38.

The Men’s Varsity 8+ is coxed by Jordan Hart, stroked by Spencer West, and followed by Robert DeWeerd, Austin Burris, Ken Pierson, Chad Condon, Costas Ciungan, Justin Wegner and Justin Ebert. The Men’s Varsity 8+ raced started on July 3, 2013 at 2:05 p.m. local time. Facing off against Oxford Brookes University in the first round, Oxford Brookes University finished with 2/3 a length ahead of Grand Valley State with a winning time of 6:38. The Lakers falling just short of advancing to the second round of racing in the Temple Challenge cup.

It is important to note, at the Henley Royal Regatta, only winning times and the margin of victory are recorded. Official Results can be found below. This has been a whirlwind trip for the 2013 Grand Valley Henley Mens Team. Check out the Men’s Journal: Henley Royal Regatta here.

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Keep pulling for the Laker Navy!

For official results, click here.

Day Ten, July 2, 2013

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Men's Varsity 8+ Henley-on-Thames

Jordan Hart
Athlete: Jordan Hart, coxswains, Men’s Varsity 8+
Year & Major: Senior, Exercise Science
Hometown: Algonac, MI
High School: Algonac High
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: just do what you think is right.

Today we woke up, got ready, ate breakfast and heading to the course to watch Keegan and Peter in the Jesus College spare pairs race. Unfortunately, they were drawn against Northeastern and did not make it out of the first round. After watching them race we got together and launched for our last practice in Henley before racing begins. Today we did four 250m pieces, two with the start and two body pieces. We had a fantastic practice and can’t wait for our race tomorrow against Oxford Brooks (B).

After practice we headed back to the house for lunch. Today was a day for relaxing since we have a race tomorrow. The boys helped set up a 6m by 6m marquee in Jo’s garden. While they did that I helped Coach B make his homemade minestrone soup, and by help I mean I cut some veggies and stirred the pot. Then I had some afternoon tea and face timed with my sister, all the while the boys were setting up the tent.

After we all enjoyed some soup we congregated at the table. Some of us wrote postcards to friends and family and some (Ebert and Ken) looked over the load of books they bought at the antique bookshop down the road. Actually, Justin Ebert had not even come home after practice. He went directly to the bookstore and remained there for 5 hours. I literally have no idea how they are going to get all the books they have bought in the last week home. He came home just after the marquee had been put up and the soup had been eaten.

Before heading to dinner at Magoos, I played a quick game of football (soccer) with Oliver. I beat him 5-4 and then I had to quickly get ready to leave for dinner. Magoo’s prepared a great meal for us, half a roasted chicken with a side of chips (French fries) finished off with a brownie and chocolate ice cream.

We are all looking forward to racing tomorrow. We will head to the course around noon and race at 2:05pm, London time – 9:05 am Eastern Standard time.

Men's Varsity 8+ Henley-on-Thames

Keegan Jahnke
Athlete: Keegan Jahnke, stroke, Men’s Varsity 2-
Year & Major: Senior, Exercise Science
Hometown: Saline, MI
High School: Saline High School
If I could tell my incoming teammates one thing, it would be: “When in doubt, Pull hard.”

So I had to get up around 7 am today for breakfast and it was not bad at all considering I went to bed at 9 pm. Sarah had some fruit, cereal and something called iced finger buns that I ate about 10 of. Then I hungout with Peter and Andrew until 9 am when we left for the course. Because it was raceday for the pair, we decided to wear our matching Henley jumpsuits. Needless to say if it was a contest if who dressed the best, we would have won.

After we got to the course we went and saw coach and the first thing he said to us was, “You guys are racing giants.” After that we went to the officials tent to see all of the entries and there were only two boats, Grand Valley and Northeastern University. A little fun fact about Northeastern, they are a varsity program with scholarship athletes. This didn’t scare us at all, it just let us know that how ever we did, we can say it was against a varsity crew.

So the pair launched at about 10 am and rowed down the course for our warm up and ended up waiting at the start line for the competition to catch up. They showed up five minutes later rowing on the square. As we both pulled onto the course the officials told us to row up to the barrier and that is where they will line us up. It’s no surprise that Northeastern got to that starting point first. They lined us up and then we were off. The crazy part was that we were right there with them. About 200 meters, we were still hanging tough down only half a length to these two scholarship earning rowers. Another 200 meters pass and they are only on our bow ball. This is when it starts to go down hill or should I say where it starts going straight to port. Things kind of fell apart as we eventually crossed the line a few boat lengths behind the victors.

After the race we met Coach B on the dock and he shook our hands and said a few words to sum up the end of two, four year journeys. We then went and met up with the Northeastern pair and congratulated them on a good race. After a couple pictures were taken, I met up with some family and went in to town for some shopping and an ice cold pint.

For dinner tonight we decided to change it up and went to a pub that I haven’t been to yet. It was called Magoo’s and it was delicious. We were served half of a chicken with some “chips” (fries) and some coleslaw. My stomach will be full until tomorrow night.

Today was a huge day for me, it was the last day I will be a member of the GVSU Rowing Club. There were a lot of memories made up to this point and I’m excited to make some more these last few days in England.

Day Nine, July 1, 2013

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Men's Henley Team Norman Ave

Peter Zwierzynski
Athlete: Peter Zwierzynski, bow seat, Men’s Varsity Pair
Year & Major: Senior, Accounting/Finance
Hometown: New Carlisle, IN
High School: New Prairie High
Fun Fact about Yourself: I am currently homeless and unemployed

The trip has been a lot of fun so far. My favorite part of the trip has been the row from Henley to Reading and then back after the regatta. The locks made it very interesting. At first, Keegan and I had no idea how to get into the lock but luckily Hugh was there to help us out. While we were sitting in the lock this little duck swam up to my oar and started to bite it. Then the duck went up and sat on Keegan’s blade. The duck sat there long enough for him to lift it about 3 feet off the water and then it plopped back into the water. After that we had a few more incidents with ducks/a goose. In short, I hit two ducks and a goose with my blade. I don’t believe the animals were harmed though. We made it Reading in about 90 minutes, with no help from Hugh. He was suppose to follow us the whole way but he got lost and left Keegan and I to ask fishermen and random people if we were headed the right way. It was a fun row, but nowhere as fun as the row back.

At the regatta Keegan and I were dreading the row back to Henley all day. However, we were laughing pretty much the whole row back. The thing that kept it fun was the fact the locks didn’t have any operators. So, we had two choice at each of the three locks. Either operate the lock ourselves or portage our boat to the other side. Well, Keegan and I decided it was to difficult for one of to get out of the boat and operate the locks. Portaging was just as hard though. The walls of the locks were considerably higher than our normal docks by at least two feet. This made it harder to get out of the boat but almost impossible to get back into the boat. Plus, we were quite a spectacle and all the bystanders at the locks were laughing at us/ amazed by our skills. We got back really quickly and the row was very enjoyable.

I am very excited to race tomorrow morning in the spare pair race. We actually just got a new boat today that works great for us. We have no idea what type of boat it is but it is red and it’s pretty nice. We just call it a Lola. We have seen so much this trip and experienced so many different things.

One of my favorite things to do here is to learn different words the English use to describe things. My favorite is what the call wrenches at regattas, rigger jiggers. They normally call them spinners by the way. Brilliant! is often use as a substitute for Nice! Most people don’t say thanks but cheers instead. Another interesting thing is they don’t use port and starboard to describe the different sides of the boat in rowing. Instead, they say bow side and stroke side. I have learned so much and experienced so much and the regatta hasn’t even started yet. I can’t wait to experience the regatta.

Men's Varsity 8+ Henley Team

Ken Pierson
Athlete: Ken Pierson, 5 seat, Men’s Varsity 8+
Year & Major: Junior, Psychology
Hometown: Davison, MI
High School: Davison High School
Personal quote: “Every man I meet is in some way my superior. In that, I learn of him” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ten and a half months is a long time. We’ve been training almost uninterrupted for nearly a year now. When talking about hard work, phrases like “blood, sweat, and tears” are sometimes thrown around. In this case, there hasn’t been a lot of blood and, due to the rugged masculinity and amount of testosterone, there have been absolutely no tears. But there has been sweat, and not the kind that occurs in a sauna or during a hot and humid summer day. It has been intentional – the result of putting the body through repeated discomfort and pain. We have walked (and rowed) the line between fatigue and failure so habitually that our potential has continuously risen. Now, as the Henley Royal Regatta knocks on the front door, there is an unshakeable electric anticipation. Every fiber is trembling with the urge to explode into action. We are race-ready. Ten and a half months is a long time, but in a time like this, everything else seems insignificant.

And we are restless. With the taper and less work on the water each day, there seems to be a collective bodily frustration. Usually, and now more than ever, this results in behavior becoming increasingly inappropriate, to the point where ten young adults begin acting like young children giddy with pent-up energy. There has been no shortage of playgroundish fun (I’m sure the reader can imagine).

Luckily, there are outlets to stay occupied and burn off some excess energy. The town of Henley is full of opportunities to stay busy. Within a fifteen minute walk, you can get nearly anywhere, passing six hundred year old inns and countless antique shops, art dealers, and cafes along the way. This kind of quaint small-town feel creates an awesome atmosphere of community, all without the tourist trap-ishness that you might find in a similarly sized costal area.

What is really great is that this relatively small town (population 10,000) gathers together around the Henley Royal Regatta. It becomes a kind of unifying agent, bringing a commonality to locals and visitors alike. Rowing becomes something to rally around, to talk about, spectate and compete in together. This can be felt when walking through the streets; shopkeepers apply fresh paint to their exteriors, people gather on street corners, and markets set up in the center of town.

As far as today, as I mentioned above, we are tapering and have not been as active as usual. We woke up at the usual 8 to 9am, went into town for a little bit, and rowed at 1:30pm. After practice we got a quick lunch and prepared for the rowing museum reception. And by prepare, I mean all of us running around at various levels of nakedness, all trying to shower and dress ourselves for the rapidly approaching formal event. What proved to be most difficult (at least for myself) was the bow tie tying. Even after the initial tying, it takes many minutes of shaping to perfect. This resulted in a severe bottleneck occurring in the bathroom as the small printer-paper sized mirror quickly became in high demand. Somehow, three to four heads successfully crammed together competing for a section of valuable mirror real estate. But we made it work and made it to the reception with time to spare. After viewing the history of rowing exhibits and listening to a short speech by a former Olympian, we casually made our way to a nearby inn for dinner.

Now, the day is coming to a close and everyone is winding down.


A brief translation dictionary

bathroom – loo or toilet
thank you – cheers
male – bloke, chap
to snitch –grass
silly – cheeky
backyard – garden
TV – telly
give a call – give a bell
line of people – queue of people

(to be continued)

Men's Varsity 8+ Henley-on-Thames

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