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Scullers prep for USRowing Fall Speed Order

30.Oct.2018 by Jen Forbes
Scullers are heading to Princeton, NJ this weekend for their final Head Race of the fall season. Hosted by USRowing, the aptly named “Fall Speed Order” will take place over the course of two days in an effort to: first, measure athletes’ speed on the erg (all participants do a 6k erg test for time); and, second, test their speed and skills on the water- because as the old adage goes “ergs don’t float”. The fastest participants from Saturday’s 8k erg test are seeded favorably in Sundays on-the-water head race on Princeton’s Lake Carnegie.
Nothing necessarily “happens” if you win the speed order, but given that a healthy portion of the  athletes attending FSO are either on the National Team, or are highly ranked US athletes, the competition will be strong. Sometimes, if athletes perform very well at FSO, they may receive an invitation from either the Men’s or Women’s National Team coaches to train at the US Training Center. Usually, though, it’s just a great way to test one’s speed against highly ranked US scullers before the winter months settle over us. We’re all certainly looking forward to capping off the fall season with two good results, both on the erg and the water. After FSO, the four PanAm Games Trials athletes will continue preparing for their race at the end of November in Rio.

GRP Scullers Complete NSR I / SSO I, Graves wins

26.Apr.2018 by Jen Forbes


As mentioned in the previous post, we spent quite a while in Gainesville, GA preparing for NSR I. We learned a ton by racing each other in singles, and doubles (with the ARION scullers), and overall, the trip was a huge success. Before we left, Lucas’ aunt invited the team over to ride horses at Bearfoot Ranch followed by an incredible BBQ put on by his aunt and the staff at the ranch. We learned that in addition to being a horse rescue ranch, Bearfoot provides equine-assisted activities and therapies for children and adults with special needs, regardless of ability. Thank you for taking us riding, we had an awesome time bonding with the horses! (pictures courtesy of Bearfoot Ranch)



After a month of focused training at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, the time came for us to pack up and head North for our first racing series of the 2018 season. We made one quick pit stop before our final destination (Princeton, NJ), in Charlottesville, VA to the home of the Hoos for a mini GRP training camp!

Frank, Nate, Lucas, and Wes in the 4x during our Gainesville Training Camp


Thanks to UVA’s Frank Biller (Head Coach for the men’s team), we were able to break up our trip from GA to NJ with a few days spent on the Riviana River. UVA Men & Women  shared their house with us, and we are grateful for their generosity. One of the big reminders taken from our visit, was this simple sentence written on the exterior of the boathouse: Entitled to Nothing. Grateful for Everything.” As GRP athletes, we have the privilege of following our pursuit of excellence in the sport of rowing; and, we have the responsibility of leaving every thing we are a part of, better than how we found it. In the words of former GRP coach, Larry Gluckman “practice makes permanent”, we know that in order to achieve greatness in all aspects of life, we need to practice being the best version of ourselves at all times. Doing the right thing, being kind, trustworthy, accountable, on-time, supportive, humble, and hungry are all things we are striving to do every day- things that start away from the water and the gym, and that do not have a stopping point, but that rather facilitate our evolution into better people and athletes.


On the water, Steve ran us through a supercomp series in order to help us both recover and prepare our muscles for a week of racing. Off the water, we had three days of transition to help our mental preparedness, as there was an opportunity to run through race course trailer loading, rigging, boat preparation, and visualization one more time before arriving in Princeton.



Racing ran April 17-19, though, it was originally scheduled to be a four day event, ending on Friday- race officials compressed the schedule due to severe weather conditions. To see a detailed race write up, go to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center news feed.

Frank, Nate, and Jen sporting their new JLRacing swag

We would be remiss if we did not discuss weather conditions in this blog post – which were very challenging given wind and wake; however, the results uncovered the strength of the GRP which is performing in adverse conditions with exceptional focus on the task at hand while simultaneously acknowledging the big picture.


Due to extremely difficult and rough water, Nate  flipped in the warmup area. He was having trouble getting out of his shoes and keeping his head above water, a task made harder by the combination of rough & cold wind and water conditions. Luckily, Will Daly (USRowing National Team Athlete Services Coordinator, Olympian and 12-time National Team Lightweight) was operating a USRowing safety launch when he saw Nate go in the water. Will removed his outer layers, and went in to the water to save Nate. Any one of the athletes racing at NSR could have flipped – it could have been any one of us in the water. Will did what he knew was the best decision at the time, and that was to help someone in need. Unfortunately, Nate was not in a good enough condition temperature-wise to accept the re-row that USRowing offered to him; and, as a result, he was no longer in contention to progress in the week’s racing series. We are happy that Nate was unharmed, no amount of thanks could express our gratitude properly to Will- but, thank you all the same.

Photo credit: Andrew Neils

As far as the rest of the GRP’s performance went, John, Wes, and Frank ranked 2nd, 10th and 14th, respectively, in the 1900 meter time trial giving them a pass to the next round, while Lucas (17th) just missed making the top 16 and progressed immediately to the D Final. Jen posted 4th fastest time, and Jenny 11th- both progressed to Wednesday morning heats.


All GRPers that raced in Wednesday morning heats advanced to semifinals later in the evening- a schedule compression that race officials felt would give athletes racing in the finals (now set for Thursday instead of Friday) the best possible water conditions, as Friday’s weather forecast looked poor. Jenny’s lightweight heat was postponed for Wednesday evening, and all D+ finals were cancelled due to deteriorating course conditions. As a result, Lucas’ overall result at his first NSR remained 17th.

Photo credit: Andrew Neils

Because of the augmented schedule, GRP prioritized recovery between races. As soon as we came off the water, we either erged or biked for 40 minutes, and ate or drank a snack to help replenish our glycogen stores ASAP. When we got back to our house, we ate a good breakfast and utilized NormaTec Recovery pants to help aid with flushing out residual lactic acid and prepping our legs for the semifinals. We all got about 8 hours between races, the latest race started at 7:26 pm.


Conditions for Wednesday evening’s races were markedly calmer. Admittedly, it was one of the most visually stunning races we’ve ever had. Tearing down the course, racing to the finish line before the with   bright red-orange sun disappeared behind the westward trees, competing against five amazing athletes – some Olympians, some world champions, and some (including two of our own) still novice scullers – was a truly unique and fun experience.   Thanks to Julbo Eyewear – our eyes stayed happy for the duration of that gorgeous sunset, as the course runs nearly exactly West to East. Vear took 4th in Semifinal 1, while John and Frank took 2nd and 6th, respectively, in Semifinal 2. Jen took 4th in Semifinal 1, while Jenny took 3rd in her heat.


In order to progress to the A Final, GRP needed to be in the top 3, any other result meant racing in the B final. Because of the shift in the lightweight’s schedule, the top 2 finishers in the evening heats would progress to A final, and everyone else to the B final. John progressed to the A final, while Wes, Frank, Jen, and Jenny progressed to the B final Thursday morning.

Wes & Frank on the Rivianna, Photo credit: Andrew Neils

John won the A final with a time of 7:21.41 at 88.6% of the World’s Best Time or “Gold Standard”. Wes placed 3rd in the B final with a time of 7:19.80 at 88.9% GS- taking 9th overall. Frank placed 5th in the B final with a time of 7:27.99 at 87.3% GS- taking 11th overall. Jen  placed 3rd in the B final with a time of 8:03.21 at 88.4% GS – taking 9th overall. Jenny placed 3rd in the B final with a time of  8:29.70 at 87.1% GS- taking 9th overall.


We left Mercer feeling good about this first week of racing, but hungry and excited to get back to training.


So, whats next for us?!


Jen made a speedy U-turn this past Sunday from Craftsbury to the Mid-Atlantic. Just 36-hours after getting home from Princeton, she drove down to Washington, D.C to join in on Potomac Boat Club’s 2xs selection matrix. There, she joins five other women (Margy Bertasi, Maggie Fellows, Mickey Fili, Emily Huelskamp, and Julia Lonchar) for the opportunity to make a 2x that will race at NSR II / SSO II against other top lineups in the country, which will also be a precursor for 4x selettion. NSR I/SSO II runs  May 17-20.


From USRowing:

NSR Events: M2-, W2-, LM2x, LW2x, PR3M2-, PR3W2-
Speed Order Events: M2x, W2x, PR2M1x, PR2W1x


The rest of the GRP remains in Vermont, for now, and are training on the Lamoille River, thanks to the help of UVM Crew.

Wes and Nate rowing on the Lamoille River, as Great Hosmer is still 14 inches thick with ice!

Stay tuned for more updates!


As always, thank you to Craftsbury Outdoor Center & Concept2 for supporting us in the pursuit of our Olympic dreams both at home and on the go; to JLRacing for outfitting our team with high-quality racing and training apparel; Julbo Eyewear, for your generous donation of racing sunglasses; and, to NormaTec Reovery – having recovery tools like yours helps immensely especially when we have same day races!



GRP ROW – 2018 Season Update (Part 3)

7.Apr.2018 by Jen Forbes

This entry is a continuation of a previous post: catch up here  GRP ROW- 2018 Season Update (Part 2)




Calm conditions for one of our morning rows on Lake Lanier

The GRP rowers have been training in Gainesville, GA at Lake Lanier Olympic Park for a little over two weeks. When we arrived in Atlanta on the evening of March 14th, we were greeted by a familiar face – Joe Ledvina – a recently retired elite sculler – who, while competing, trained at Potomac Boat Club after his four years as an oarsman at Georgetown University. Joe graciously picked us up from the airport and made us a hearty pasta dinner.  Thanks to Joe, we had a place to store our boat trailer and passenger van (Moby) when we left Florida to train in Craftsbury for a few weeks. Thank you Joe!


Since arriving, we’ve been getting in productive and focused training – mostly in singles – in preparation for NSR I; but, occasionally, we’ve had a few rows in the 2x and 4x as well.  The weather and water in Gainseville are cooperating nicely. We’ve had some flat water days, and some rough water days; and, ultimately, both are helping us become better scullers. We’re now only two weeks away from racing at National Selection Regatta I (NSR I) on April 17 – 20.


NSR I is a  USRowing Senior Team selection event for the heavyweights (M1x and W1x) and a speed order for lightweights (LW1x) which means that the winner of each  heavyweight/openweight event will be qualified to race at any FISA World Cup I, II, or III, and the Speed Order events will have the opportunity to petition to go to a World Cup, depending on their finish order. In order to be named to the 2018 Senior National Team, and go to World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, however, the athlete must place in the top 6 at a World Cup. If there are fewer than 12 entries in the event, however, a finish in the top 50% of the field is required.


Other than thinking about racing, the team has been forming good relationships with the Gainesville Rowing community. For one of our group community service projects, we helped install and remove starting platforms for the 6-lane race course under the direction of John Ferris – coach & assistant Executive Director at LLRC, and a lifelong contributor to the sport of rowing – for the John Hunter Regatta. We had a GRP-led  yoga classes for  the Saratoga and LLRC juniors this week; and, plan on having at least one  more class for them before heading north next week. Collectively, we’ve been working on fixing the ergs at the boathouse and YMCA,  taking on recycling efforts, and organizing plans to revive the beehives at the COC.


We’ve been getting in solid strength-training sessions at the local YMCA – focusing on movements and anti-movements aimed to increasing power output on the water.  We’ve been making new friends – like Mario – a LLRC member who, in 1961, got to row for the first time in an eight-person shell in his home country of Cuba.  Since then, he’s been hooked; and, now has a single of his own in which he rows as much as he can out on Lake Lanier. Mario is just one of the many people that have enriched our training camp experience with his kind smile, and hunger for competition.


On Easter Sunday, Bob and Julie Mudd – two of the amazing junior parents at LLRC – invited the Saratoga juniors, ARION rowers and us, to lunch at their Adventures in Missions  business not too far from the boat house. We felt the love, and the southern hospitality, as soon as we arrived on the 40-acre property where rows of outdoor tables were prepared for a feast fit for rowers. Pastel-colored cups, DIY sweet tea and lemonade in large glass drink dispensers were set outside, while inside waiting for us were troughs of sliced salty ham, deviled eggs, strawberry salad, cheesy potatoes, homemade rolls, and green beans – all prepared by the Mudd family. Feeding a group of 70 + people is no small task. Thank you for your generosity – everything was amazing!


Following lunch, we held an Easter egg hunt for the juniors. It was up to them to find the 250 candy-filled eggs we hid moments before their arrival.  We went high, low, and everywhere in between by utilizing tree branches, tail pipes, storm drains, and on top of door-frames. At the end of the hunt, participants counted their eggy cachés – some stashed the eggs in pockets or  scarves, while others  removed  their shoes in order to hold their egg treasures. One lucky junior girl found the prized golden egg – kudos! From the bottom of our hearts and happy bellies – thank you again to the Mudd family, LLRC Juniors, and Saratoga Rowing for inviting the GRP to join in on your Easter lunch. We had a great time.


Our week ended with speed-work in singles. Friday morning we simulated race day with a 1900 m time trial; two hours later, we lined up in two heats for an all- out 2000-meter piece.  As we take steps forward in our training, we humbly take time to thank the people that have so graciously helped us so far this year.



Special shout-out this week goes out to The Mudd Family, The LLRC Junior Team (plus Coach Tracy!), The Saratoga Juniors & The ARION Scullers (don’t forget Coach Eric Catalano), and to our own hard-working coaches Steve Whelpley and Troy Howell. As always, thank you to our amazing team of supporters : Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Concept2, JL Racing, and Julbo Eyewear.


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GRP ROW- 2018 Season Update (Part 2)

29.Mar.2018 by Jen Forbes

This entry is a continuation of a previous post: catch up here 

 GRP ROW- 2018 Season Update (Part 1 of 2) 




GRP rowers took to the water this February for the first time since November during our first training camp of the year in DeLand, FL. Three women from three elite sculling programs across the US joined us for the fun: Mickey Fili, Potomac Boat Club; Maggie Fellows, SoCal Scullers; and Julia Lonchar, Vesper Boat Club. Additionally, the GRP welcomed a new and now 6th member to the squad – Frank Horpel –  a 6’6″ former swimmer turned rower, a basketball fanatic, and a self-proclaimed good-guy. (We can confirm!)

Our guests, and we, got a few opportunities to line up against – and boat up with – the guys and gals from the Saratoga-based rowing club, ARION (Advanced Rowing Initiative of the Northeast).


The GRP + friends arrived in De Land safe and sound. Time to rig the boats!


On Valentine’s Day, we had a heart-throbbing grip & rip water session, followed by an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill: a 57-year-old griddle house nestled in the De Leon State Park among an eerie, yet etherial forest of southern live oaks and cypress trees draped elegantly with Spanish Moss.


Spanish Moss covers many tree species in the south. Here’s a photo Steve took of a southern live oak at the De Leon Nature center



The rectangular tables at which we sat had long electric griddles in their center – allowing each hungry athlete to pour and flip their own pancakes – right into their mouths if they wanted. The GRP  are big supporters of the farm-to-table movement, but griddle-to-mouth is no less enticing a concept to us. Slamming sugary stacks of pancakes was a great opportunity to bond with each other after beating each other up on that water.





Our rows on Lake Beresford, and the connecting St. Johns River, were just as beautiful as they were productive. Co-mingled red mangroves, palm trees, and ancient cypress trees stood confidently with roots supporting stretches of the ever-changing shoreline. At water’s edge, lily pads and water hyacinths lolled and bounced in the wake from our 1000-meter race pieces; while during a water break, we could spot: Bald Eagles, Snowy egrets, Great blue herons, alligators, and Gopher tortoises perching, grazing, hunting or sunbathing on their respective domiciles. On a few rare occasions, a West Indian Manatee floated his snout to the surface, and after a few rounds of respiration, resubmerged with the quiescence of an Olympic diver.



Beautiful day to row with some extra coaches keeping watch over our technique.

Lining up for steady state in the fog. We had excellent conditions this morning, made more safe by the presence of Steve to watch for on coming boat traffic.

GRP preparing to launch for a foggy AM row on Lake Beresford.

The final act of our trip included the first annual Head of a Manatee – a 7 kilometer race requiring a combination of speed, power, strategy and finesse in order to survive – just like our Manatee brethren. Each boat class (LW 1x, W2x, LM 1x, M1x, and M2x) was given a rope with a set number of halved tennis balls, washers, and bolts in order to add a considerable amount of drag. HOAM racers deployed their drag buoys stern side just before the start of the race. The added drag and rate cap forced racers to emphasize power-per-stroke, and even power application throughout the piece. Without such control and finesse, buoys would sink, making the load much more difficult to mana-ge.





Conditions for the race were favorable. By happenstance, Steve found a stony Manatee statue positioned on a Lake Beresford homeowner’s waterfront property. We used the manatee as our starting line and the rest of the 7k race was history.



Coach Hap feeling proud of his Head of a Manatee starting line find.


GRP lines up for the 1st Annual Head of a Manatee Regatta


For our first practice back in Craftsbury, the team enjoyed a spring-like ski in the middle of February. With short sleeves and minimal layers, we did laps of Sam’s and Ruthie’s through valleys of fog, and patches of stark temperature variations.



(Left to right) Jen, Jenny, Lucas, and Wes before team ski in a February thaw.



For the remainder of February, and the beginning of March, we continued working on  surpassing personal records on benchmark erg pieces, weight room goals, and got a few opportunities to share our rowing experiences with local high school and middle school students.


An English teacher at Craftsbury Academy assigned Daniel James Brown’s biography “Boys in the Boat” to her students; and,  knowing that there were rowers within the community, asked our group if we would be okay with coming to speak with the students about the sport, and to answer any questions they might have about rowing, and the lifestyle that comes with it.


Some of the questions Craftsbury Academy high school students had for the GRP. Thanks for hosting us!


A few days later, we and a couple ergs, made a trip to the Bailey Hazen Wellness fair. We talked to the kids about opportunities available to them at the Outdoor Center as well as within their own community of Hardwick. Frank, Jen, and Lucas offered rowing technique tutorials, and before long we hand to fight the crowds away with a cedar leaf, because so many kids wanted to join in on the 100 meter relays we had going! We had a great time hanging with the kids, and hope some of them can make it out this summer for some sculling lessons.


Jen watches two Hazen high school students race each other for 100 meters. Let’s get em in the boat!

Lucas (left) and Frank (right) coach a Hazen student on how to properly go through the rowing stroke on the Concept2 Ergs.



For the next couple of weeks, we continued getting miles on the erg, bike, and snow – beefing up our lifting and had the opportunity to volunteer for the  Ski Orienteering World Cup and World Master’s Championship.

One of our fearless leaders – Judy Geer –  said in an October 2017 press release that, “Craftsbury has a long history of ski orienteering. In the last 9 years, Craftsbury athletes have competed in Junior, Master, and Senior World Championship, and before that the COC has held U.S. Ski Orienteering Championship Events since the 1980s. This week of competitions is one way to say thank you to all the people, organizations, and countries that have hosted ski orienteering events before us.”



It was interesting learning about the intricacies of Ski Orienteering – and most notably, the high level of strategy and skill required to not only be able to ski fast, but also be capable of navagating ones self as quickly, calmly and efficiently as possible from one control to the next. In the short period of time that the ski orienteers were at the COC, we rowers got to learn about about the sport; and, as a result, have an incredible level of respect for the athletes that take on this challenge. A few of us were intrigued by the complexities of the sport; and, will very likely give ski orienteering a try, come next winter. But first…time to get the sea legs back.



Craftsbury at dusk during one of the last skis we had before departing to Gainesville, GA.


The team is currently in Gainesville, Georgia training at Lake Lanier Olympic Park – the location of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.


Be sure to check back for updates over the next few weeks as we prepare for NSR I!!


As always, thank you to our incredible sponsors Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Concept2, JL Racing, and Julbo Eyewear for all of your support!