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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!


GRP ROW- 2018 Season Update (Part 1)

5.Mar.2018 by Jen Forbes


Craftsbury Pair in California, NSR 1 Lead Up

18.Mar.2016 by Andrew Reed
Suited up for practice, in front of Newport Aquatic Center

Suited up for practice, in front of Newport Aquatic Center

Parker and I left Florida on a very high note after a very solid block of training where we saw good strides both in strength, speed, and boat skill. When we arrived in Florida we began a new training plan design by Dave Gleeson and Larry Gluckman. Though Parker and I were apprehensive about making large changes we have adapted very well to the new plan and have found his sweat-drenching lifting sessions to be particularly beneficial.


The trip to Newport Beach California, while a little circuitous, went smoothly.  We woke early last Monday morning (3:00 AM early) and drove Parker’s car to the Orlando airport parking, where we then hopped on a 7:00am flight to Seattle, the flight went smoothly and I did some reading, which was quickly disrupted by a showing of the new Star Wars movie.  A first viewing for Parker who enjoyed it very much despite a couple interruptions from a fairly large flight attendant passing out drinks.  In Seattle airport we did a quick dash to our terminal with a detour to Runway Burgers, whose prices felt more like runway robbery. We boarded or next flight and flew down to San Diego. From there we took a rental car and made a detour to take a quick look around Lake Otay and the Olympic Training Center.  Finally, we entered the home stretch and arrived at the Hogans’ house in Newport Beach.


The Hogans, John and Sue, are great.  They have welcomed us into their lovely home, which has been a perfect place for us to rest and also play with their three wonderful dogs: Merry, Henley, and Sammi. Additionally, they have treated us to some delicious home-cooked meals and a seemingly endless supply of hilarious stories.  Parker and I rowed with their son JP in college.  JP is a bit of a Newport rowing legend; winning Youth Nationals twice in the 8 and giving America its best ever result in the Junior Worlds pair.  Interestingly, while at Harvard, JP was my first major instructor in how to row the pair well. I remember morning sessions we spent doing release-to-catch drills finding that calm and confident entry into the water.  There is some sort of poetical significance that after helping me get my start in the pair, his family is helping Parker and I achieve our ultimate speed in the same boat class.


The training in California has gone smoothly.  We have been assisted by Steve Dani who helped us pick up our shell and allowed us to train out of the Newport Aquatic Center.  NAC has a terrific facility and while we initially struggled with the concept of tidal rowing, we have been able to get a lot of value out of both our steady state and more intense pieces.


In addition to training we have also been able to have some fun. We tried a bit of the local fair with Tom Graves as our guide; we hit a section of the beach that the Hogans affectionately called “the warzone,” although we found it to be rather tame; we went to Irvine Spectrum to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane in dazzling IMAX quality (a slight upgrade from the Bijou in Morrisville); and we were able to visit the JL Racing factory store and do some modeling as well as help make one of this year’s racing unisuits.


Leading up to the NSR next week we feel proud and confident in our speed and the work we have done. It can be difficult training in isolation, but the downside training separately has been mitigated by the awesome work we have done with our teammates. Back in Fellsmere we trained against Erik and Hugh, and on our last hard day we did some 2ks versus Willy and Steve, which really elevated our performance. Here in Newport Harbor we did competitive pieces with Tom. We know our speed, now its time to execute and find out the speed of the competition.


Lake Otay

Lake Otay

Hogan family dogs. Merry, Henley, and Sammy

Hogan family dogs. Merry, Henley, and Sammy

Another pic of the cuddle monsters.

Another pic of the cuddle monsters.

Pudgy the weight room pug

Pudgy the weight room pug


JL Racing factory floor!

Fresh gear being made at the JL Racing factory store

Fresh gear being made at the JL Racing factory store

Steve's racing shell from the 2013 Chungju World Championship. Now being used by the US training center with GRP sticker still intact!

Steve’s racing shell from the 2013 Chungju World Championship. Now being used by the US training center with GRP sticker still intact!