2009 Vesper Boat Club Journal

July 27, 2009 – Sam

It was hard to get back into practicing after returning from Club Nationals. We had Monday off except for unloading the trailer and rigging the boats. For Tuesday morning practice we went right into seat racing. Earlier this summer we did mostly steady state and very few high stroke pieces. This past week we did pieces almost everyday. It was very tiring and I took some really long naps in between practices. I was never seat raced, but our line-ups from Club Nationals changed slightly by the end of the week.

Since I’ve been to Philly, I haven’t done that much sight seeing. I’ve been to Penn’s Landing, Manayunk, the Natural Science Museum, and the Library. Now that I’m entering my last week here, I really want to see more. On Friday Coach Bancheri and a couple of kids from the Quarry picked me up after practice and took me to see the Liberty Bell which is something I should probably see before I leave. We then went to lunch at the Navy Shipyard with one of his old Marietta rowers. It was nice to get out and see more of Philadelphia and have someone from home come and see me. On Saturday we were going to go to a Phillies game, but it was sold out so I hung out with my roommates at the Penn AC boathouse. On Sunday me and two of my roommates went downtown to the Reading Terminal Market, which is really cool and made me wonder why I had not been grocery shopping there the whole time. All the food was fresh and very diverse. I was especially amazed by all the chocolate and cakes they were selling! We ate lunch downtown and walked around in awe of the big city. We decided we want to go back there again before we leave.

We got our line-ups for the Henley today after practice. I will be racing the Senior 8+, U23 8+, and Champ 8+. I will race a total of 9 times assuming that we make it to the final in all events. I have never raced that many times at one regatta but, I’m looking forward to the challenge. Next Monday we will leave for Canada, and I will not come back to Philly. I plan to get a ride back to Allendale with the Grand Valley rowers that will be racing there. I’m going to miss the friends that I’ve made here, but I’m excited to get back to normal life.


July 20, 2009 – Sam

Vesper won in both the Senior 8+ and Senior 4+ this weekend! The first race was the 8 on Saturday. I was so nervous warming up and sitting at the start line, because I had no idea how the race was going to go. Usually with Grand Valley I have a pretty good idea of how races are going to go, given that nothing goes wrong, because I am familiar with the teams. I also felt a lot of pressure being stroke; the last couple races had disappointing finishes.

Our boat was first off the line and we did our high 20 at a 45 stroke rate, which is higher than we had ever gone. We settled to a 38 then again to a 35. Penn AC was to our port side and we were pretty even with them and the two of us were out in front. We had the Vesper men’s coxswain for this race. She coxes the St. Joe’s women and she was really intense. She pushed us to take seats on Penn AC and we started to take seats through the thousand. Our sprint was always our weakness and she told us that they were going to try to come back on the sprint so we had to go. We ended the race with a little bit of open water on the rest of the competition. Penn AC got second followed by Wisconsin, NYAC, TBC, and Minnisota.

The next day was the 4+ final. I was a little less nervous but just as unsure about what was about to happen. I stroked and Mary and Bailey from Temple, and Nicole from Bates were in my boat. Our coxswain, Jenny, was from Brynn Mawr. We were in lane 4 and our other Vesper boat was in lane 3 and Penn AC was in lane 4. The Penn AC boat had two of my roommates in it and the whole line up was from Clemson. We were third off the line at the start and took our high 20 at about a 42 and settled to a 36 and eventually settled to a 34. We were a little ahead of Vesper B and a little behind Penn AC going into the 500. We took seats very slowly on Vesper B, but were still in contact going into the thousand. Penn AC was taking seats on us and we heard people in their boat call bow ball on us right around the thousand. Jenny told us we were at a 32 stroke rate and told us to bring it up. We brought it up to a 36 and very slowly started to move back up on Penn AC and away from Vesper B. Going into the last 500 we were about a seat behind Penn AC and I didn’t know if we could win the race but I did not want to feel like I could’ve done more when the race was over. In the last 300 we were a little ahead of them and started to bring it up for the sprint. We eventually got up to a 40 and finished 2-3 seats ahead of Penn AC. Vesper B got third. It was one of the best races of my life! I don’t think I have ever had a race that close or come back from being behind before. The other boats in the final were NYAC, TBC, and Wisconsin.


July 18, 2009 – Sam

I am in Oak Ridge right now racing at Club Nationals. I’m back on another course that I’m very familiar with. We started to drive down on Monday night and stopped to stay at a school in Roanoke, then finished the other half of the 11 hour drive on Tuesday morning. When we got here we rigged boats then waited around for the course to open up for practice. We took two laps in the eight and did some starts and a 500 meter piece and worked on sprinting since that is our weakness right now.

The next day my hotel roommates and I went down to the racecourse to watch a few of our teammates races. Then we went to see Harry Potter. I think the biggest difference between summer racing and racing during the school year is the amount of rules there are from the coaches. We only have to be at the racecourse 90 minutes before our race and the rest is up to us. We have to be responsible for our own race preparation. On Wednesday it stormed for a little bit and races got pushed back so the course was closed for practice. It was kind of unnerving to go a whole day without practice so close to racing. On Thursday I didn’t have any races again so I slept in then went to the race course to watch more races then practice. The docks were so crowded with people trying to launch and get some practice time in. Our practice was really good; we got the rate up higher than ever before, probably because we were so ready to practice and race after our day off.

On Friday morning we had to wake up at 8 for our race in the Senior 4+. In our heat was Thompson Boat Club A, Wisconsin USRowing Development Camp A, TBC D, TBC C, and Minnesota USRowing Development Camp A. We were first off the start and stayed ahead the whole race. At about the thousand we took it down to about a 31 and finished 10 seconds ahead of the second place boat. It was top three to finals. In the next heat our B boat got first followed by Penn AC and NYAC. It will be a really close final on Sunday; we race at 11:24.

At around 5:30 we went out to race the Senior 8+. We raced Wisconsin, TBC A, and TBC B. We got out first off the start again and settled to about a 36 then raced most of it at a 35. It was the best our 8 has ever felt and with the most ratio. We practiced our sprint in the heat even though we were ahead and it still needs a little bit of work. In the final later today we will race Wisconsin, TBC A, NYAC, Penn AC, and Minnesota. This race will also be very close; our time was 5 seconds behind NYAC and 1 second ahead of Penn AC. We race at 2:57.


July 7, 2009 – Sam

This week was a pretty standard week. We had practice twice a day and in between practices I took naps and went to the library which is really big and confusing. We still haven’t done any seat racing and our high rate pieces were 500 meters at the longest. We have been doing a lot of steady state to create a base to work with. We have some really good practices, and a lot of really frustrating ones. Overall we are improving, and I’m confident we will do really well at Club Nationals and Canadian Henley.

This weekend was the Independence Day Regatta on the Schuylkill. It was held all weekend long, but my only race was the eight which was on Sunday at 4:00. I had the rest of the weekend to celebrate the 4th. I went with some of my teammates to Penn’s Landing on Saturday. They had an ice cream festival there which was really crowded! It was $5, which went to a Leukemia foundation, for all the ice cream you could get without being overtaken by the crowd. It was really delicious and fun though. After that I went to the race course to watch some of my other teammate’s race. I feel bad for parents who go to all the regattas, because besides the 2 minutes that you actually get to see the race it’s a lot of waiting around! Later that night we watched the fireworks over the Art Museum from the boathouse.

The next day I got to sleep in before my race, which was nice after having to wake up for 6 am practice the whole week. The second eight raced in the intermediate race and got second to one of the Junior National Team development camp boat. We raced St. Catherine’s, the Junior National team boat, NYAC, and one other boat. The race did not go that well. We were in lane 5 and the coxswain didn’t see a big buoy and swerved to not hit it so we went into lane 4 and were there for a little bit before we finally got back on course. We were a little frazzled. We didn’t lose our place because we had been in second to the Juniors before and after the bridge. St. Catherine’s was behind us by at least four seats. When we went into the last 500 meters, St. Catherine’s started moving on us and they ended up beating us by .3 seconds. We got third place. I’ve never really been in races that close at Grand Valley; we either win by a few seconds or lose by a few seconds. It is a terrible feeling to lose by such a small margin. Despite the fact that we lost seconds under the bridge, we should not have lost the lead we had in the end of the race. I’m learning a lot about racing and hope to take what I’ve learned back to Grand Valley with me.

On Monday we are going to leave for Oak Ridge to race at Club Nationals. I will be racing the eight and the four.


June 28, 2009 – Sam

I just finished my second full week in Philadelphia and I feel like I’ve been here forever! Last weekend we didn’t have any races so we did pieces on the Schuylkill. I was in a 4+ and we only did two pieces against the women’s lightweight quad and another quad from our program. We have been doing a lot more speed work because there are a lot of races coming up. I have been moved to stroke seat in the top 8+ and I really enjoy being in the stern and trying to set a smooth rhythm. I think my rowing has already improved; I have been really working on not over compressing or lunging, which Coach Bancheri was always coaching me loudly about.

June 23rd was Olympic Day and US Rowing decided to host an Olympic Day event at Vesper Boat Club. It wasn’t a huge event, but there were several Olympians there and the Mayor of Philadelphia also came. He talked about Philadelphia’s support for Chicago getting the bid for the 2016 summer Olympics. The stroke of the Women’s gold medal 8+, Caryn Davies talked about what it means to be an Olympic champion and a Para Olympian spoke about his experiences. There were also three men from the 2004 Olympic gold medal 8+. They all brought their medals and there were medalists from 40 years ago too. Michiel Bartman, Vesper’s head coach, also wore his 3 Olympic medals from when he rowed for the Netherlands.

Wednesday night we loaded the boats on the trailer to take to Mercer Lake in New Jersey to prepare for Elite Nationals. The boat loading was very difficult on Kelly Drive. We had to pass boats over parked cars and dodge traffic. It also took a long time and made me think that Grand Valley is actually pretty efficient at unloading and loading the trailer. It is a little over an hour drive to New Jersey with traffic and we had to make the trek many times between practice on Wednesday and the end of racing on Saturday. I didn’t really know who I was going to be up against at Elite Nationals until I looked at the races online and realized that there were many Olympic and U23 World gold medalists in the other boats. I knew we probably would not beat them but it was really exciting to be on the same race course as them! We had heats on Thursday, reps on Friday, and finals on Saturday. I raced in the 8+ and the 4-. We had never practiced a straight four, but we decided to race one anyway. Luckily I did not have the toe steering in my seat, so I just had to worry about the rate, not the course. Our course was not good, we were all over the place because none of us were used to this boat. We were last in the heats, but the winner of the heat got to skip reps and everyone else went to reps where the last boat was eliminated. Our 4- repechage was canceled and we just had a seven boat final. In the final we went out of our lane a few times, and ended up in 6th, but at least we weren’t last! If we spend more time in that boat I think we could be pretty good.

In the 8+ we got second in the heat behind London Training Center from Canada. In the rep we got second behind the second US training center boat. I would have been happy is we got fourth in the finals because that would mean we beat the other club teams there which were New York Athletic Club and Riverside. We didn’t have a very good sprint in the final and ended up losing to NYAC who we had beaten the day before. We will have a chance to race these other club teams in every regatta coming up so we can see how much we improve or need to improve.

Next weekend is the Independence Day Regatta on the Schuylkill River and everyone says it is one of their favorite regattas, so I am excited for it. We also just got enough people for two whole eights and we might get a couple more people. We will start doing more pieces during the afternoon practices and doing some seat racing. I am interested to see how I match up here and see how effective I am on the water.


June 18, 2009 – Sam

I arrived in Philadelphia with my mom on Thursday June 9th and found the place where I’m going to be living for the next 8 weeks. It is a three story house and my room is on the third floor, so it was strenuous moving in! I’m living with four girls from Clemson and one girl from Trinity. All of them except for one are rowing at PennAC, and the other one is in the lightweight U23 camp at Vesper. None of them have the same practice time as me, so it’s been tough waking up for practice on time. I found out the hard way that I can bike to practice in 14 minutes when it usually takes about 18 minutes. I have practice Monday-Saturday at 6:15 am. We have a second practice at 6 pm everyday except Wednesday and Saturday. Practices are usually about 1.5- 2 hours long and we have only done steady state so far. We will start seat racing when all the girls arrive.

A lot of the girls here are from schools in Philly like Penn, Drexel, St. Joes, and Temple. There are some girls from Boston College and San Diego as well. There are also some girls who have been training on their own for a year or so because they already graduated. Grand Valley is pretty well recognized and people who row in Philly year round remember us from Dad Vail. They also know of Coach Bancheri, and Brent (our coach here) jokingly threatened to get him on speaker phone when I was a little late to practice.

We raced on our second day here in the Schuykill Navy Regatta. It was not a huge regatta and I think it was mostly for singles, but I raced 4 seat in the 8+. We race two boats from Capitol and won by open water, but we were rowing at a 30 stroke rate because we were not used to each other yet. Next weekend we will race at Elite Nationals in New Jersey where we will probably race some Olympians!







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