Friday, November 13, 2009

Surprise on Monterey Bay

As if Loreley herself was on the Santa Cruz harbor jetties, calling them to ruin, two Nereid rowers recently paddled for their lives in a dawn row on Monterey Bay.

While on a weeklong, post-HOC vacation on the California coast, club members Frank Schaefer and Erin Martin made a 6 a.m. date with Beth and Ginger, two avid and gracious rowers from the Santa Cruz Rowing Club. The day before, an offshore Pacific storm had caused onshore swells of 15-20 feet – a surfer’s dream, a rower’s nightmare. Some 12 hours later, Beth anticipated that conditions might be a little rough, but perfectly rowable. Ha…

The two open water 2xs, decked with lights and life preservers, launched long before there was any hint of light in the sky. Leaving calm waters and docks of sleepy sail boats behind, Beth and Ginger slipped into the 100-foot wide channel, between the two rock jetties sheltering the harbor. Erin and Frank followed their middle line, avoiding the waves breaking on the Mini-Cooper-sized boulders on each side.

The plan was to row due west, one mile out to sea, to a lighted buoy visible in the distance.
“Yee, haa!” hollered Beth. “It’s a little rougher than I thought. Let’s just take it easy and see how it goes."

“Oh shit,” was all Erin could say from the bow. Immediately gripped by sea sickness, she was shocked to see herself looking down at Frank, and then up at him, as the waves lifted and dropped the boat. “This is insane.”

And then it got worse. “Ride ‘em cow boy!” Beth yelled as the swells got progressively taller and wider, ranging 5 to 7 feet. Total darkness made the experience more surreal. There was one way to survive: the Free Radical Mantra – just shut up and row.

Soon, the divine cadence of strokes took over, the seasickness abated, and the rhythm of the waves began to entertain. After about 25 minutes, the boats reached the tall green buoy, where a trio of sea lions eyed their visitors with inquiry. A line of red and orange curtained the eastern horizon. The peace of the scene overpowered the sea.

Circling back, Erin and Frank could now see the waves coming at them, which was not necessarily comforting. A bit of water splashed in the boat. Even so, the sensations became familiar. After just 10-15 minutes, the boats were near the mouth of the harbor.

“Follow us again,” Beth called as she and Ginger headed into the channel, unaware that a particularly large set of waves was coming in. Frank and Erin started out on the same line, but were soon pushed about 20 feet to their starboard, closer to the southerly jetty.

“Look out! Be careful! Look out! Watch it!” screamed Beth and Ginger in a chorus so sudden, loud and highly pitched that every axon in Erin’s and Frank’s bodies seized up in alarm. Glancing over their shoulders, they realized that the last swell had driven them within 15 feet of the southerly jetty. And they were pointed straight at it. To port, another wave in the monster set barreled toward them.

“Starboard, starboard, starboard,” Erin yelled. Both rowers pulled with all their might, turning the boat parallel to the jetty. But the cresting wave had pushed the boat so fast that Frank could almost touch the outermost rock with his oar.

“Row, row, regular rowing,” Erin shrieked from the bow, instinctively remembering from white water rafting that one should never stop paddling in a rapid. The top of the wave turned white as it began to break. Frank pulled with the strength of an Olympic champion, and Erin hung on, and the boat gracefully dropped over the backside of the wave, clearing the rocks.

“You did it! Great job! Way to go! I can’t believe it! That was awesome!” cried Beth and Ginger in euphoric relief. The episode had lasted no more than five seconds.

The flat water of the harbor felt like a good, deep exhale. Within 30 strokes, the boats were on the dock, all four giddy with gratitude that neither rower nor boat had come to harm. “If I had some Irish whiskey, I’d be passing it around right now,” Ginger said.

Beth laughed too. “I had the sick thought that I’d forgotten to get you to sign a waiver!”

After warm goodbyes, Frank and Erin walked back to the nearby house where they were staying, longing for coffee.

That day, Loreley was no match for the Nereids.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

World Rowing Championships

The world rowing championships begin today in Poland... If you're planning to follow them, or just want to sound knowledgeable when talking to friends at the club, the U.K.'s Rowing News has a good article on the boats to follow...

I have Time Warner Cable which I'm sure is showing it somewhere, I just can't find it. If anyone knows a channel that's showing rowing, please let us know. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rowing and weddings...

Huge apologies to my two (dear) readers, but I got a bit busy getting married over the last couple of months or so....

Happily, some of my very best rowing friends could be there, including many of the awesome Celtic Warrior Princesses. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm not sure any rower could have had a wedding send off much better than this:

(On the off chance someone is still reading this, I hope to resume normal service -- perhaps with even the occasional post -- shortly)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nereid Boat Club Makes Money Magazine

Rutherford is #22 on the list of places to meet someone rich& single (not to be confused with out boat, the cute&single):

"Pick up a preppy Wall Street type while rowing on the Passaic River -- the river's smooth water draws rowing enthusiasts from New York City as well as from the Rutherford area. Try to get in the water before work, when young professionals are most likely to be there. After work, head downtown for a bite. There are no bars in Rutherford, but you can BYOB to any restaurant in town."By Stephanie Fletcher, Money contributor

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why we should all be taking Dirk's magic tablets...

Perhaps you suspected that a few of your fellow rowers have some crazy tendencies. Early risers, early drinkers etc etc... But did you know we had record-breaking erg marathoners in our midst? And, apparently, it's all thanks to Dirk's magic tablets:

On Sunday, May 10th, Paul Gribelyuk, Adrian Nino De Rivera and Jim Beattie each completed an erg marathon. They each rowed the 42,195 meters in one sitting without any breaks. The recreation room of the boathouse was filled with the whir of their three ergometers for nearly three hours on that sunny spring morning. On the television was Patrick Swayze’s 1989 hit movie Road House and on the stereo’s speakers were motivational tunes, ranging from Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” to Rammstein’s “Du Hast”. When asked why they had bothered to undertake such an arduous task, Adrian, replying for the group, said, “Because we’re better than you, son.” Each of the three rowers set a new personal best for the distance. Paul finished at a split of 2:01.1 (2hrs 50mins 23.4secs), Adrian, who was completing his first (and only?) marathon brutalized the poor erg for 2hrs 47mins 47.7secs, a split of 1:59.3. Completing his second marathon in six months, Jim surged ahead at the beginning, only to slowly die a very painful death with 7,000 meters left to row. He sputtered across the finish line after 2hrs 45mins 44.7secs, a split of 1:57.8. This was just better than Eric Hagberg’s most recent mark of 1:58.0 (Eric holds the world record for lightweight men in the 100,000 meter distance).

To what do the three attribute their success? Hands down, the answer is “Dirk’s miracle tablets.” After the three had convalesced sufficiently to be able to form coherent sentences, Jim said, “Those little tablets work miracles. With 25,000 meters to go I started popping a half tablet every 5,000 meters. By the time I was 32,000 meters into it, I was popping them every 2,500 meters or so – just like candy [editors note: they essentially are candy].” (Important note for USADA: The “miracle” tablets were actually dextrose energy tablets, a common supplement for long-distance athletes.) Will the three be repeating this remarkable feat any time soon (perhaps so anyone who missed it this time can catch it live next time)? Well, according to Paul, “Yeah… probably not.” Adrian’s only comment was a string of expletives, followed by “son” and hysterical laughter. With a devilish gleam in his eye Jim said, “Sure, but not until there’s a pretty good reason to do so.”

The three (brainless?) rowers would like to thank Erin Colgan for her help in completing the marathon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Classic Video: Possibly the best rowing race ever shown on national TV

Feel free to argue with me if you have a different opinion - and suggest other videos we can watch!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nereid picture of the week:

(Slightly out of season, but still beautiful. Many thanks to this site)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nereid picture of the week:

Taken on one of the last days of good rowing last year...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nereid picture of the week:

Vintage Postcards and Ecards from
Cardcow Vintage Images

A vintage postcard titled 'Boating on the Passaic'

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's the best crab you ever saw caught?

What's the best crab you have ever seen caught - or you yourself have caught? The best crab I ever witnessed was in my first year at university. A novice men's crew was racing in Fairbairns - a particularly miserable head race held on the Cam in early December - and a medic in the 6 seat caught a boat-stopping crab, the blade handle hitting him smack in the forehead and almost - but not quite - knocking him out of the water... Obviously, he wasn't seriously hurt or I wouldn't be laughing about it 10 years later...

Anyway - I was thinking about this after reading about this poor guy's experience at the Head of the River Race on the Thames last weekend (that's the Boat Race backwards in VIIIs for those of you that haven't had the pleasure of racing it)...

Thanks to the Tideway Slug:

Also worthy of note was the performance of Alan Stepnell, the four man in HSBC’s second eight, who allowed himself to be crab-a-pulted from his seat into the Thames, 30 seconds from the finish line.

Indeed, such a showman is the aforementioned Mr Stepnell, that he waited until he was bang in front of his own boathouse before exiting the boat in such dramatic style. Once in the water, he bravely started swimming only to realise that the crew behind was bearing down upon him at speed - he then had to make a quick dash to hide between the moored boats to escape being clobbered. Whilst the phrase "another bank bailout" does come to mind, we couldn’t possibly sink to such low levels of punage – damn... too late.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Passaic of Yore

Look how beautiful it used to be...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back - and better than before....

Hello Nereids,

I'm going to attempt to get this gig running again, hopefully with a lot of help from you lot. Please send your favourite Nereid stories, your nicest Nereid pictures, along with any gossip, news, helpful tips, lost and found - anything you like, really - to this address.

We post, you do the commenting. But that said, we do need some more people to post if we're going to keep this going for more than the week that I managed last year.... So email the above address if you fancy trying your calloused hands at blog writing.

See you all on the water,