Catching up on blogging after a whirlwind week. The Head of the Passaic was this past Saturday. I was a little nervous going in as I haven’t been racing the single as much this year, but I had a couple of strong tune-up rows last week so I was feeling good. <Sound buzzer>
Mother Nature threw us a curve ball with 30-40 mph headwind gusts, and the tide changing from slack to powerful ebb just before the singles race. In addition, the launch dock was clogged so due to conditions they just started boats as they approached the line, mixing and matching races in order to get everyone down the course as soon as possible. I was the last boat to start, and I got the worst of it.
The first half of the race was very challenging, including a massive cross-wind right in front of the spectator area. But then I turned the final corner, looked around, and saw nothing but steel-gray whitecaps coming at me for the last mile, and I knew it was going to be bad. Those were probably the most challenging conditions I’ve ever rowed a single in – to the point of my skeg being out of the water on some of the wave crests. At one point I considered bailing out and heading in, but realized that it would be impossible for me to turn the boat without swamping.
I finished with 5th place and 5 inches of water in the well. When looking at the results, I realized that the older guys with the big handicaps we untouchable in those conditions because there was no real opportunity to make up time or demonstrate fitness when everyone was just rowing to survive.
I didn’t realize how taxing that race was until I got home. My body wasn’t that drained, but neurologically I was spent and it’s taken a few days to recover. That’s what happens when it takes all of your skill and concentration just to stay afloat. Whew!
Here’s a couple of pics – one from the last mile stretch later in the day when conditions were better, and one from the finish line at Nutley boathouse (you may recognize the scene from The Sopranos when the guy got kneecapped as he was getting ready to row).