Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Series: 'On the Water' with John Forrest – Potomac Boat Club's Journey to Henley Royal Regatta, Part I

The 2012 Henley Royal Regatta is just around the corner, with qualifiers set for Friday, 22nd June and the racing beginning on Wednesday, 27 June. Last year, in our first-ever On the Water (OTW) Series, Matt Miller of the Virginia Cavaliers gave us an insight into his team’s trip over to Henley-on-Thames, racing with the UVa varsity eight in the Temple Challenge Cup, and reaching the semifinals. This year, Georgetown alum John Forrest of Potomac Boat Club's Thames Challenge Cup eight will be picking up where Matt left off, giving us an inside look at PBC’s preparation and training, as well as the experience of racing Henley. In John’s first installment, he introduces the PBC crews that will line up in the starting blocks on the Thames, as the team gets ready to head over to England:
Potomac Boat Club (PBC) has entered the Thames Challenge Cup for club eights and the Wyfold Challenge Cup for club coxless fours at the Henley Royal Regatta. These crews are drawn from PBC’s men’s sweep team of club and masters rowers. This is the third time the sweep team has raced at Henley, after making the Thames Challenge Cup 8+ quarterfinals in 2007 and semifinals in 2010. 
The spark for racing at Henley this year was the team’s win last fall in the Open 8+ at the Head of the Potomac over crews from Georgetown and George Washington. Being able to field an eight that was competitive with collegiate varsity programs was an indicator that we had a fast boat and that it might be worthwhile to race at Henley. This kept us motivated to work hard throughout the winter and early spring. 
In mid-April, after evaluating winter progress and everyone’s schedule to accommodate a focused training effort and trip to England, we decided to race at Henley. This was followed by three weeks of seat racing, which showed that we could field a competitive eight and four. We settled on the following Thames and Wyfold lineups:

Thames Cup VIII after a win at the Schuylkill Navy Regatta (Photo: © Erik Edstrom)

Thames Challenge Cup 
C: Allison Prevatt – Coxed for the women’s team at Williams and current American University law student
S: Chad Jungbluth – USNA grad and twenty-plus year member of the Navy
7: Alex Mastroyannis –Yale graduate and current George Washington University medical student
6: John Forrest – Georgetown alum; current full-time patent agent and part-time law student at GWU
5: Tom Brock – Ohio State alum and an architect
4: Sean Durkin – San Diego State alum and 2011 USRowing Masters Rower of the Year
3: Alex Del Sordo - GWU alum, works for the American Trucking Association, and head rowing coach for Bishop O’Connell High School
2: Carl Nunziato –Yale graduate doing medical research at Washington Hospital Center and applying to medical school
B: Pete Clements – Williams alum, consultant, and grad student at American University

Chad, Tom, and I were part of the 2010 boat that made the semis of the Thames Cup. Alex D, Sean, Tom, and I finished second in the Club 4+ at the 2011 Head Of The Charles. Allison, Pete, and Alex have previous racing experience at Henley. Seven of us – everyone except Alex M and Allison – rowed in the winning Head of the Potomac Open 8+ that put us on the path for Henley.
The PBC Wyfold IV trains on the Potomac (Photo: © Chris Miorin)

Wyfold Challenge Cup
S: Nick Davies – Lincoln College, Oxford alum, consultant, and member of the 2010 boat
3: TJ Maguire – Marist alum working for the local DC Fox affiliate
2: Phil Hoyle – UW alum, Army veteran
B: Tim Spell –St. Joe’s Prep and GWU grad working in web design for non-profits 
Both crews are a mixed bag of age and experience. The stern pair of the eight has the oldest and youngest rowers. Some members have been rowing at PBC for over five years; some have been rowing at PBC for a year or less. Everyone has a full schedule – work or grad school or a combination – and fits in rowing as a hobby. It’s a time and effort-consuming hobby, but a rewarding one. 
After setting the line ups in early May, we settled into a solid training groove of four to six times per week for seventy-five minutes at a stretch, plus extra workouts on our own. This is close to the maximum training time that our schedules allow. 
Training has been a mix of steady state rows to gain some comfort in the line ups and higher rate work to get our 2K legs under us. Fortunately, we have a deep squad this year and have been able to field additional lineups to push the Henley crews in practice. 
Since the club racing season just started, the Schuylkill Navy Regatta was our first opportunity to put it all together. We did not have the usual Boathouse Row opposition, but both crews were able to reacquaint ourselves with a full-effort 2K. The closest competition was other PBC entries. The four raced down the course with two other PBC fours. The eight battled against another PBC boat as the other clubs fell off the pace. The PBC Thames eight withstood a strong thousand-meter move to win by just over a length. As Alex D said, it was a very patient 2K. 
We leave for England on Thursday night, just in time to escape the DC heat and humidity that is settling in after a mild May and June. After arriving, we’re anticipating a flurry of activity to get settled in preparation for some tune-up racing on Saturday at the Reading Town Regatta. -JF
Thanks very much to John Forrest and the rest of the Potomac Boat Club squad, and we look forward to following the Henley trip this season. Also, Matt Miller will be returning to Henley, racing in the Diamond Challenge Sculls, in a field featuring 2011 world bronze medalist (and triple world champion) in the LM1x, Duncan Grant of New Zealand, as well as U.S. lightweight Andrew Campbell (who, surprisingly, has been asked to race in the Qualifiers), and Mike Sivigny, representing the California Rowing Club. More to come from John and PBC once they head across the pond.

-RR

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