Archive for the ‘rowing abroad’ Category

First US Road trip for Zonsopgang II

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Last weekend I raced in 2 regattas – in Portland, so it theoretically shouldn’t count as a road trip since both races were within 15 miles of our home in Hillsboro. However, it took over 10 hours of driving to make this happen. My single “Zonsopgang II” (for those not fluent in Dutch = Sunrise II, named after my old boat that got destroyed in a freak storm just before we left Arizona) has been all over the world with many road trips in Europe and a few in Taiwan, but it hadn’t traveled to a race within the US until now.

The reason so much driving was involved is that the boat is stored at out other house, which is 2.5 hours away. So I drove down Thursday night, picked up the boat, drove back to Portland on Friday, then raced on Saturday, raced on Sunday, drove down south on Monday to return the boat, and finally drove back to Hillsboro on Tuesday.

For both races the weather was horrible, with heavy rains and high winds. When they predict record rainfall in famously-wet Oregon, you know it’s something out of the ordinary! Two large fronts came through dumping about 10 inches of rain over three days. This took away a lot of the fun of racing. However, I was happy with my performance and finished in 2nd & 1st place finishes. Despite the bad weather the whole trip was worth it, because it gave me a chance to finally row in Portland and gave me an excuse to get a rack for the truck to hold our boats.

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Ted Competes at the FISA World Rowing Masters Regatta

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Last week I took time off work to row at the FISA World Rowing Masters Regatta. This is a very large regatta run by the international rowing federation (FISA) that is held in different locations around the world each year. This year it was held in Duisburg, Germany which is only 100km from where we currently live, so I just had to attend even though I was not really prepared.

The regatta was very big, with over 3,000 competitors representing 44 countries, participating 449 races held over 4 days. The overall competition level was extremely high and the average size of the rowers made me feel very small. (Comment from Paula: Welcome to my world!!!.) This was the first time my Dutch rowing partner and I had rowed a 1K race together and we wanted to use this as a learning opportunity. We rowed 2 races with OK results in our heats, but our overall times were not that good compared to the entire field. From a learning perspective it was a very successful race; we were able to review the data from our first race and make measurable improvements in our second race. Now, we need to continue improving for the World Masters Games in Torino next year, and apply what we learned in our next race this weekend in Rotterdam. I also raced in the single where I was last in my heat, but based on my time I was close to the middle of the overall field.

The rowing venue in Duisburg is awesome, and was the highlight of the trip. The course was laid out in the standard international 2K competitive race track with the launch and retrieval area separated from the racecourse, with a long channel to the start area, and then a fully outfitted 8 lane race course that finished in front of a covered stadium with a jumbo-tron. What made this unique is how it was integrated with the very beautiful park and other outdoor activities. For example, there was a ropes course going over the water, so while rowing to the start of the race people were ziplining across the water above you. The race course also provided a first for me: This is the first time I raced with a full Olympic-style start. This included a “boot” that is raised from under the water and holds the bow of your boat. This “boot” prevents rowers from false starting, and retracts when the race is started. For a big regatta like this, with races starting every 3 minutes, the “boot” system really helps speed up the alignment of the boats at the start of the race.

The other amazing aspect of the venue was the food and drink. Since we were in Germany the beer tents were abundant. These beer tents were supplemented with all sorts of different tents selling specific beverages including: Champaign, Gin, mixed drinks, RedBull, soft drinks and coffee. The only drink missing was sports drinks, but I guess in Germany RedBull is a sports drink? Unfortunately Paula could not attend the regatta and really missed out because her favorite two foods were prevelent, grilled shrimp and soft pretzels. (Comment from Paula: He did bring me home several soft pretzels – much beter than getting flowers!)

Overall it was a great experience and a lot of fun, even though we did not bring home any medals this time.

Rowing on our lake

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Well, it was a great trip overall; we really enjoyed finally getting to row from our house, as well as socializing with friends and family. Also, we bought a big sofa, which will be delivered next time we visit, so the house will be even more comfortable.

The trip was only marred at the very last minute, when I managed to leave my wallet in a store in the Portland airport and only realized when we got to Amsterdam. I’ve talked to the people in the store, and they have it and will be sending it to me, fortunately – it’s got credit cards, bank cards and drivers licenses from two countries, not so easy to replace. I just hope it gets here before my next trip to the US, which is only a couple weeks away. I am having my bank cards canceled and reissued, so at least the Dutch ones should get here in time.

And here are the pictures to prove it did happen! (Er, the rowing, not the wallet loss.)

not a rowing report

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

There’s no way I have energy to write up today’s rowing, but I thought I should post to say I survived it rather, the 2/3 of it I rowed, since we had three people in our boat trading off rowing and steering duties. We had two rowers and one cox, making the boat lighter but the row longer, since all the other boats had two of each. It would have been a better day overall if it hadn’t started with locking myself out of my apartment and ended with having to deal with getting back in. I left my keys in the door of my store room, so had to wait for a kindly neighbor to come by and let me into the building and then into the storage area (actually, a restaurant delivery person did the first, but I had to wait for a real neighbor with a key to do the second. Not a major trauma, except that everything is harder when you’ve just rowed about 33 km.

Meanwhile Ted is still struggling with getting the house in order; today’s drama on that end was having the refrigerator delivered and finding out that it couldn’t possibly be gotten into place between the kitchen cabinets and island, which was especially annoying since the person who sold it told him it could be lifted over the island and it turned out the delivery people are actually not allowed to do that. He said it’s just as well, because with the doors open it would come much too close to the island – we’ll either need a shallower fridge or to redo the island. No idea what the previous owners did!

resting up tonight

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

I thought I heard someone calling cadence, so I just poked my head out the window and saw a troop in uniform crossing the street. I feel a little bit guilty for it, but I don’t think I’m going to City Hall to watch the ceremony. They have tropps marching and tanks rolling into the square there (which is actually named 18SeptemberPlein) to re-enact the liberation of EIndhoven, 64 years ago today. It was part of Operation Market Garden – the successful half of that plan. When we lived here in 2007, Ted’s parents were fortuitously visiting at the time, and his dad’s interested in WWII history so we went to see it – we were only half a block away then. (Now I’m a whopping 2 blocks away). It was the most powerful experience of history I’ve had here – I kept having flashbacks, seeing the grandparents of the same people standing there, much thinner and in ragged clothes, weeping with joy to see the tanks rolling in to liberate them from the Nazis. Many of the men in the tanks were the same, literally – old men from five countries come back here for this, though there are fewer every year.

I’m not going this year, though, because I have to rest up. I just got back from the boathouse, loading up boats on trailers for tomorrow. I didn’t fast for Yom Kippur, because it’s not a good idea the day before a strenuous event, but I did eat as little as I could without being stupid – a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, a gevuldekoek (filled cookie – about 4″ across) for lunch. I jumped the gun on sunset for dinner, though. Because tomorrow I am rowing in the Rondje EIndhoven. It’s a tour, not a race, with stops for lunch and coffee, and the chance to rest and take a turn coxing periodically. But still it’s 50 km, and I’ve had a tiring week, so I’ll stay home tonight.

The really hard part will be biking to work tomorrow! But I have class after work, and I’d have to take two busses to get there if I didn’t bike. And then there’s a concert after class – an American singer/songwriter, Richard Shindell, who I’d kick myself if I missed. At least it’s only a three-day week. Then I’m on vacation while Mom visits.

Meanwhile Ted keeps telling me how tired and sore he is; he’s at the house in Orgeon, getting all our stuff organized there (quote: “I forgot how much stuff we have!”) and getting some stuff fixed. Apparently he’s also been putting his parents to work. I feel a little less guilty about moving apartments when Mom is here – this is a much smaller move, and the movers will do the heavy parts. And then I’m off to Taiwan soon after she leaves, where Ted and I get to deal with still more movers. (Three sets of movers total – four if you count mine back in April, three continents, three of our four parents involved….) Yes, it all gets a little silly.

back on the water

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

On Tuesday I was reminded about one of my very favorite things about the Netherlands. Granted, there’s some stiff competition: cool weather, clean air (crystal clear, relative to Taiwan), daffodils (no, not tulips – you see daffodils in vast swathes beside the road, but only a few tulips here and there. They’re either less hardy or more expensive.), restaurant menus I can (mostly) read….

There are some unfavorite things as well, like having someone tell you he can’t come to a meeting because 4:30 is too late in the day, or having someone reargue all sides of an issue you thought was finally closed, or having all the shops closed by the time I leave work every day (which, come to think of it, makes sense of people wanting to leave early!!).

But back to favorites: I think my very favorite thing of all is the part where people ask me to come row and race with them. You have no idea how gratifying this is, after many years of “Who else can we get to fill our quad? Not Paula, she’s too little.” It’s funny; you’d think that would be more of a problem here int he Netherlands where people are taller, but it really isn’t. Maybe people just take height more for granted here and don’t think much about it.

So I’ve been asked to race in a quad in November; stroke is L, who won the Skiffhead (very big race!) in the Master A category this year, R in three is extremely powerful, M in two seat is stroke’s doubles part (they did well this year in the Tweehead and the Skøll Cup). And me. Yikes!

Generally, stroke seat sets the pace that everyone else follows, so you want a strong rowing with good technique and good timing there. The middle seats are the ‘engine room’ of the boat, and since the frontmost rowers have most effect on the set, you want a good technical rower there to keep the boat level. So no one expects me to be the powerhouse of the boat, but on the other hand those are only minor distinctions – every rower in the boat needs to be contributing to the overall power, timing and thus speed of the boat. So I have from now to November to build up my strength and endurance to where I can keep up with the other three, and to get my technique back to where it used to be (or better, of course).

I went out in a single yesterday, with M & L, also in singles, and a coach (the wife of Ted’s Dutch rowing partner). It was great! Nice weather – the worst problem was the setting sun in our eyes. I’d never worked with this woman as a coach before, and she was even better than I expected; I knew she was very knowledgeable, but there’s a difference between knowing what the problems are and being able to communicate them in a way that will help the rower to fix them. Also, for an adult rower, or at least this particular one, it’s important to pay attention to what the rower knows and can feel herself, and she did that. So now I have a couple of things to work on myself (being on the water about 10 times in two years is not particularly good for your technique, though at least I had the erg to train on) and I’ll meeet with her again in a week or two.

getting to Sydney

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I think Australia is probably the most comfortable place for US travelers, except for Canada – and even that’s mostly because of the lack of the jet lag and the driving on the wrong side of the road. There’s just something about the open country and the attitudes there that make us feel at home. (The slang’s more colorful though – you really do hear “G’day” and “mate” and “fair dinkum.”) One flaw, though: internet in all of our hotels (all 5 of them) was running about $25AUS a day. There was free internet at the McDonalds and Krispy Kreme near our hotel in Penrith, but I didn’t have a ton of time there and didn’t have any access thereafter except for 15 minutes one day in Tasmania – hence the radio silence for the last couple of weeks. I’ll try to get the whole trip written up and photos posted over this weekend, probably in three entries (one each for the race, Sydney, and Tasmania parts of the trip).

Starting at the very beginning, we flew out on a Wednesday afternoon, which was nice – no rushing out of work and no getting up early. However, the trip had a terrible beginning – Tuesday night I got home late from work to the news that my Uncle Larry had died. I really wasn’t expecting it, since he’d rallied every other time he’d gone off chemo for a break, but the last time I spoke to him he was barely able to talk, so I guess I should have realized. I spoke to both parents, though, and given the difficulty of changing the flights to get to the US, the uncertainty of when the funeral and any other memorials would be, and most especially my uncle’s own love of travel, they told us to go ahead with the trip as planned. That made the whole thing pretty melancholy, but also right in a way – not only would he have loved the trip, but we were meeting up with two friends who had actually met Uncle Larry when he came out to see us race in Oak Ridge, TN, at the World Masters Games a few years ago. I informed everyone we would be having a memorial dinner at some point, since it seemed much more appropriate than dedicating a race or whatever to someone not at all interested in sports.

This was our first time to fly Singapore airlines, and I recommend it highly – the food wasn’t bad as airline food goes (meaning, it wasn’t great either – it’s a relative thing) and the entertainment system was the best I’ve seen on any airplanes ever, both on the 777s to and from Singapore and on the A380 we took from Singapore to Sydney and back. Which leads to the next thing – we got to fly on the new A380s. Verdict: meh. The kneeroom isn’t bad but that’s a decision made by the airline, not by Airbus. It was very quiet, but there are not enough restrooms (it didn’t help having two out of order on the way to Sydney) and Ted complained about the size of the overhead bins. I like the 777s better.

Our big advantage, coming from Taiwan, was being off Sydney time by only three hours, much less than the other Outlaws coming from Arizona. Nonetheless, after all the trouble Ted and Kathy had going to the last World Masters, we’d decided to get there a day early, which turned out to be a good decision.

After flying in, we did the paperwork for the rental car, but left it at the airport while we took a train to the Olympic Park to register – the train was *not* a good decision, as it cost extra money and took forever because we ended up on a local train that stopped at every station. We’d thought finding the venue in the car would have been difficult, but judging by all the signage we saw later, probably not. But registering that first day definitely was a good idea – it took us under two hours, much less than it took on later days. By the next day it was taking 5 hours – after that they sped things up by not putting photos on the badges, so people had to go back later if they wanted that fixed. We also picked up our World Masters Games backpacks, which were black and turquoise and proved to be a great way to recognize other Games participants – with some 28000 athletes competing, 2500 in the rowing alone, we were everywhere you looked in Sydney.

After that, we got the car, drove to the venue, had a practice row, were lucky enough to run into Ted’s partner for the men’s doubles, and checked into the hotel. It was part of this complex, which was kind of weird – apparently it’s The Place To Go in Penrith so there were always young’uns walking around in 1980s flashback clothing – notably, long shirts and no pants – and older people wandering around with tanned skin and bleached hair. It was handy having the restaurants next door, except that since it’s technically a private club we had to sign in for “guest passes” whenever we ate there.

The next day we picked up two of the other Arizona Outlaws at the airport (technically, one rower and our Oar Wench), met the other two at the venue, and practiced more. The wind kicked up enough to cut our practices a bit short, though – a foretaste of what was to come.

More later!!

a few pictures from the weekend

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

It got the boats there, but the leased car we have here just doesn’t compare to Ted’s faithful H2:
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Here’s the venue. The boathouse is impressive to – four floors including offices and dorm rooms. And flush toilets! (Though all but the handicapped one are squat-types.)
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Ted during his race and me bfore mine:

Ted after his first race – this should show how hot it was!
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And a not-so-little guy we found hanging out by the boats:
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Ilan regatta report

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

The short version:

By invitation, we participated yesterday in the Taiwan National Team Selection regatta. Ted came in first in his final; I came in third in mine. The other competitors were about half our age, the elite Taiwan rowers, who train at least twice every day and live at the boathouse in summer. If you want to stay impressed, stop reading now.

The full version:

Moving boats is a lot more difficult when you’re not using a system you’ve finetuned over the years. It went fairly smoothly, though, as we were able to settle on fairly simple methods. We put the rack on the car Wednesday night, loaded up Ted’s boat (which had been staying in our company warehouse) Thursday night, loaded my boat and headed out to Ilan Friday morning with our usual overpacked car. (More overpacked than usual, in fact; we had to take two computers because we had both had to work from the hotel, and we took extra food since we didn’t know what would be available.)

After unloading the boats by the Dongshan River boathouse (where the national team trains) we had our first adventure of the weekend, when we found ourselves with no idea where our hotel was. It wasn’t the one near the boathouse that we’d thought it might be, and our GPS refused to recognize either the hotel name or the name of the street it was on. I tried calling, but no one at the hotel spoke English well enough to give us directions. So we threw ourselves on the legendary Taiwanese kindness: we went into the nearby hotel and asked for directions. They couldn’t give us those either, but they called our hotel, who sent someone out on a scooter to show us the way there. Only in Taiwan.

Our hotel turned out to be ten minutes’ drive from the park where the boathouse is; we actually had anice view of the boathouse from our balcony and it would have been ten minutes walk but for the water in the way. They’d clearly called in a skilled designer in setting up the hotel; beautiful landscaping and interesting layer – each room had a balcony and bathroom on the outside of the room, with sliding glass doors and curtains for both, to let lots of light in during the day. My only complaint was that all lighting in the room was indirect and it was a bit dark at night.

Because we were grateful and because a buffet seemed like a good pre-race dinner idea, we went back to the much fancier hotel for dinner. I think it was meant to be a Mediterranean restaurant – a very Chinese view of Mediterranean food! It was pretty good, though, and buffet for two people for about $30 is a deal any rower would take.

We weren’t sure when our races were, but fortunately Coach Lin called to tell us Ted was in the first race, at 8:00. It was only after we got there that we learned that this was a National Selection regatta. We also learned that the two-day race was being compressed into one day because of an expected typhoon Sunday (it ended up swerving into the China Strait instead). We’d been told about it by Henry, a high-school rowing coach here in Taipei, who had only said it was a “regatta for adults”. Most of the other competitors are college-aged. One woman we’d met before had been an Olympic hopeful last year; we have a hunch one of the guys in Ted’s race was Wang Ming-Hui, who competed n the Athens and Beijing Olympics (he came in 23/31 in Beijing). The competition was tough, and the humid heat was hard on us; Ted came in 4th of 4 in his heat, close in the pack. He then advanced to a repechage where he was 2nd of 2; since 2 other rowers in that race wimped out and did not start. In the Final B, Ted came in first, way ahead of the other guy. He was happy about that, given the combination of circumstances: heat to which we’re not as acclimatized as the Taiwanese rowers, three races in one day; 2000 meter races, twice the distance that masters rowers usually race, being twice as old as most of the competitors, and most of all, not having been in a racing single since our last race in Taipei.

I was even more out of practice, not having been in a boat at all since the Taipei race (dragonboating is a whole different skill). Also, I was rowing in Ted’s boat, since my boat here isn’t a racing one; fortunately we finally seem to have figured out how to adjust it so it’s not too bad for me. Luckily for me, there are far fewer women racing than men; there were only two other rowers in my race, meaning it was a Final and we only had to race once. I came in third, not surprisingly, the rower who was first was the Olympic hopeful, and I lost sight of her early on except as a distant blur in my mirror. The other woman had a terrible start and I was ahead for a bit, but she pulled in front by the 500 meter mark. According to Ted I at least finished closer to her than she did to the winner!

After our race, we found a place for our boats in the boathouse there; we hope they will sustain less damage than in the park in Taipei, where they get moved (and dented) every time a typhoon rolls in. Even though it’s more than an hour away, we’re also hoping to be able to row more often, since the dock facilities there are great and conditions are more sheltered.

At night we went to the Su-ao port area for dinner. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find parking near the restaurant the hotel recommended to us, so we ended up eating at another place. There was no menu; they just took us outside and had us point to the (raw or live) fish we wanted. It tasted all right, but we probably won’t be going back soon as Ted was queasy all night (of course, three races in extremely hot and humid weather could possibly also have had something to do with it.)

In the morning, we got up, had breakfast at the hotel, and got home by 10:30AM. That was a treat – living in Arizona, a race out of town always meant a drive home of at least six hours – even more fun when you have a two-day race and have to drive home after racing, to get to work the next day. Sometimes it’s nice being on a small island!

Elfsteden Roeimarathon

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

With a little effort I was able to schedule my last business trip to the Netherlands when it allowed me to row the Elfsteden Roeimarathon. This race is a race that covers approximately 200 km and goes through each of the 11 cities within the Netherlands province of Friesland. It takes 18-24 hours to complete. The Elfsteden race is most famous not for rowing, but for ice skating. During the winter all the water ways along this path can freeze under very cold conditions; when this happens the Dutch initiate the Elfsteden ice skating race, which is not only a race but a truly Dutch cultural event. The last time it was cold enough to run this race was in 1997.

The rowing version of the race is done in Class C Doubles with coxswain (stuurman, in Dutch). They are larger than a racing double and much heaver. Since some of the waterways have large boats that produce big wakes and there can be some rough water the boats need to be modified. The modifications include creating stern and bow decking, adding a very large splash-guard, mounting a GPS for navigation, adding electric pumps for bailing, and inserting extra floatation compartments and wave protectors over the riggers. The most important addition is mounting the traditional oil-burning lamp on the bow and stern. All of these alterations were made the week before the race but had to be installed at the race site on the day of the event since the boat modifications could not survive the trailer trip to the race.

Boat Preparation
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There is a huge amount of organization required to prepare for this race. First, the race course itself is very long and complicated. In the Netherlands the canals and waterways form an extensive network and are nearly as common as streets; thus, you really need to have a good set of directions to prevent getting lost (on our legs we took 2 wrong turns). The race package provides an extensive set of maps and way-points that needed to be programmed in the GPSs used in the boats. In addition these points had to be programmed into the GPSs used in the chase cars so the spare rowers could find the locations to change crews. Since this is a very long race lasting nearly 24 hours people needed a place to sleep, so a convenient “campsite” was found. Camping in the Netherlands is a lot different than I am used to in rural Oregon. In the Netherlands you sleep in a nicely manicured field in the middle of a working farm, with a portion of the barn converted into a bathroom with showers, and a nice patio for cooking and sharing meals together. Since we had 27 people the preparations for the campsite were rather extensive, requiring 6 tents and lots of food. The most difficult coordination was of the cars and people. First we had to get all the people and equipment from Eindhoven to the race, about a 3 hour drive. In the Netherlands this is more complicated than I am used to – the cars are smaller and many people do not have cars, plus 3 hours is considered a long trip. Once everyone is at the race we needed a chase car and a campsite car for each team, each equipped with the preprogramed GPS, food, and drinks.

With the plans in place, we began the actual execution starting at 8:00 AM in Eindhoven. For the race preparations all the people were divided in 2 groups. Group 1 departed first, traveled with the boats to the race course and mounted all the modifications on both boats (I was in this group). Group 2 left a little later with all the camping gear and set up the campsite. Once the campsite was set up, they joined us at the race site; unfortunately they had all the food and we had to wait a few hours for them to arrive. With the full group of 24 rowers assembled we had a big pasta dinner next to the boats and canal. At the appropriate time 2 rowers and a cox for each of the 2 Beatrix crews launched for a leisurely 5k warm up row to the start. The rest of us drove to watch the start – even this simple drive highlighted how important the GPS was because none of the people in my car knew where the start was. All 94 boats were log-jammed in the small start area. At 8:00 PM the boats were started one by one at about 30 second intervals. Each team of 12 was divided into 4 crews of 3 (A-D). Each individual crew of 3 would row approximately 10 km (about 40-60 minutes) then change out with another crew. The intended sequence was: A,B,A,B,A,B > C,D,C,D,C,D > A,B,A,B,A,B > C,D,C,D,C,D. For example, the starting crew A raced while crew B was in a car frantically driving through Friesland trying to find the next exchange point. In the beginning this dash between exchange points was more like a convoy since the crews were closely grouped, but by the end we were on your own. While crews A&B were rowing crews C&D were at the campsite and trying to get some sleep.

Rowing
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I was in crew D so after the start of the race we went to the campsite and tried to get settled. Since it was still relatively early and still light I got very little sleep. At around 11:00 PM, we had to get up and drive to the exchange point. Some people on our team slept well and were not so eager to get up delaying our departure. It was very strange being crammed into a car with mostly strangers, driving through the very dark countryside, toward some way-point on a GPS. Upon arrival at an extremely dark, remote patch of weeds under a brilliant starry sky, we waited with a number of other crazy people for our crew to arrive. This was actually a lot like pit crew in a NASCAR race. The more experienced crews had long poles holding unique combinations of lights, or actually internally lit signs to show their crews where to pull in (we had to shout since we did not have a sign). As the crews arrived the pit crews had large poles with hooks to help pull the boats in and the crew members were exchanged. The more experienced crews had very long poles, pulled in very accurately, and exchanged crews quickly. Being less experienced we had to chase our bout down the cannel a few meters, the exiting crew did not know you had to let the oars go parallel to the boat to so they had difficulty pulling in far enough, and we were cumbersome during the rower exchange (with more practice we got quicker). When I finally got my chance to start rowing around 1:00 am it was truly peaceful, even though we were rowing very hard. The water was glass, there was no wind, no sound other than that of the boat; and the only lights were far-off oil lamps behind us, a small glow from the GPS on the coxswains face, and the beautiful sky speckled with stars. All of our nighttime rows were like this and for some reason not being able to see much made the time go by much quicker. During the last segment of our first rowing shift we watched the sun rise while we rowed across a glassy lake. Our shift ended around 6:00 am and we headed back to the camp site to try to get some sleep

Crew Exchange
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At the campsite I tried to get some sleep but it was difficult since it was very bright day and it was very warm by Dutch standards. So after maybe 1.5 hours of sleep we raced to the exchange point to start another 6 hour adventure, 3 hours rowing & 3 hours of driving. The weather was absolutely awesome for rowing: clear, sunny, and absolutely no wind, which is unheard of in an area covered in power-generating wind mills. The problem with this was that it brought out all the pleasure boats, which produced big wakes that were amplified in the small hard sided canals. Even with this, only about two different stretches, of 2K each, were uncomfortable to row in. Our team decided to change the order of the C & D crews for the last group so after our last segment we rushed to the finish line to watch our team finish 28th out of 94 in 18 hours and 30+ minutes. As with any rowing regatta the race had finished but the work was not done. We had to remove all the modifications and load the boats on to the trailer.

The race organizers had a lot of very unique touches at the post race festivities. They provided each crew with unique Friesland desserts composed of a graham cracker-like base, whipped cream, and chocolate (as with many Dutch deserts it had the slight black licorice flavoring). The post-race meal was a classic Dutch winter meal (I guess since this race commemorates a winter event) of stampot with sausage or sauerkraut, and vla (similar to pudding). They gave each participant a Maltese cross-shaped medal just like those in the ice skating race, and for the winners of each event the medal came with a lanyard in the very uniquely designed Friesland flag.

At the Finish
post-race pastry medal

That night despite being very tired, we all hung around the campsite talking for hours. This was an absolutely wonderful experience with great rowing, true camaraderie, awesome weather, and a fabulous Dutch cultural experience.

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I found Friesland noticeably different from the rest of the Netherlands. It appeared to be even flatter then the rest of the country, even though I know that this is not physically possible. I suspect that this is because it is less populated and there is noticeably less tall vegetation. It was amazingly green with numerous very small quaint villages.

Each boat had a tracking device on it that was used to show our exact position and speed on a web site. Paula was able to track our progress and speed real-time from Taiwan, and since I rowed in the middle of the night the time change worked in our favor. At the beginning of the race we were actually able to use the live video cam on the race web site so she could see me while I talked to her on the phone.

Unfortunately I forgot to pack my camera so all pictures here were taken by other members of the team.