THAR SHE BLOWS! By Gloria Gundersen


          Captain Ahab and the crew on the Pequod had nothing on the BBRC crews of the Flying Cloud (Barbara Traban, Marieke Reis, Nancy Quintin, Sharon Challingsworth, Gloria Gundersen and Nancy Jacobsen) and the Gail Force (Jean West, John McCoy, Steve Gillum, Tom Blumetti, Laura Anderson, Dan Georgianna and Joe Reis) .   At first, for teams Anjos do Mar and Dragons respectively the conditions seemed ideal for this May 15 th Essex River Race. The venue was scenic and quaint.   The company couldn’t have been better.   The sun was shining.   The temperature was in the sixties-perfect for rowing.   BUT the wind-OH THE WIND was a blowin’! Steady at 30 with gusts over 40, the race separated the amateur from the experienced-the faint of heart from the fearless.


            Right from the beginning the conditions were dicey, there was no time to bungee or swallow GU-the only thing swallowed was gum.   Two miles into the 5.5 mile race, several kayaks had overturned and at least one gig turned back.   Just about then the first of several waves bathed our faces with wet salt.   That was when Marieke piped up with “this is the fun part!” and Barbara, the coxswain responsed with, “is my steering oar still in the oar lock?”  


            The wind and the current were at cross purposes, making it difficult to stay the course.   When we weren’t trying to avoid rocks on the side closest to the shore, we were trying to avoid being carried out to sea on the other side.   What else could we do?   We tacked.   Yes, I said tack—if we’d have had a sail, it would have been hoisted! Once composure and rowing cadence was restored, we found it wasn’t long before the current changed yet again and we were riding the surf.   At one point, it was taking us faster than we could row so we just sat back, let Barbara steer and enjoyed the ride.   Well, that didn’t last nearly long enough before we had to assume hard rowing again.   This time beyond the never ending white caps we could see the end was in sight….the finish line…the feeling of accomplishment and grace under fire.   The humbling feeling of what people went through who had to make a living in boats very much like this one, in conditions far worse than these.   Our “minor” skirmish with Mother Nature gave us all a greater appreciation of what our ancestors lived with and how fortunate we are.


FYI-The Dragons stellar time of 1:08 got them a second place finish in the fixed seat open boat category.


          The Anjos do Mar time was 1:45. In a category all by themselves, they would have kissed the ground upon finishing safely; if it weren’t for the fact a guy in skivvies gave them other things for which to be thankful.