Hobart College oarsmen Robert McNamara and August Wherry (@Wherrbear) are blogging about their experiences at the 2014 World Rowing U23 Championships in Varese, Italy. The Statesmen qualified for Team USA in the lightweight pair. Racing begins on July 23 and runs through July 27.
The first day of our trip to the U23 World Championships in Italy was an eventful one. Starting with an early morning row at Mercer Lake, August and I stored away the boat and headed for the team bus at the Princeton Boathouse. With everyone in matching USA polos, the majority of the team was bused to JFK Airport just two hours away. Everything went smoothly in the airport except for trying to find food for a lightweight trying to cut weight. By 4:30, the team began boarding the Delta plane headed for Milan, Italy. With plenty of legroom in the front row, August and I, along with our coach for Worlds, Matt Rung, watched the sun go down for about three hours as we flew through the night into a new time zone. After a long day, we finally arrived at the hotel around 9 a.m. with a full day ahead of us. Surviving through jet lag, we traveled to Lago di Varese Saturday morning where we rigged our new Hudson pair and made sure everything was set for our first practice on the course Sunday morning.
Greetings from Varese, Italy! After restless hours of travel and adjusting to the six-hour time change, Rob and I have finally settled into the routine here. Today marked the beginning of a promising week of success with Team USA. We are staying in a very modern hotel that seems to have been built to host spectators for the horse racing that takes place across the street. The rooms are super-efficient in the oddest of ways. You must insert your room card to turn on your lights and to use the bathroom. The staff is very courteous and has been working hard to provide us healthy, homemade meals three times a day. We have had pasta, rice, and chicken every night so far and we are finding it hard to complain. The taste of the food is far richer than what you can find back home in the States. Despite everyone being on their own schedule and training plan, meals have provided great bonding time between all of the athletes. Every table never hosts the same athletes, but they continue to share the same common theme-going fast and winning races.
The day begins with a 6:30 wake up call and an immediate walk to breakfast. After packing down as much as we can, we grab our gear and hop aboard the bus to take the 15 minute drive to the course. The venue is unlike any regatta I have ever been to. The course and spectator area has yet to be set up, but it’s already apparent that the regatta is designed for the best athlete experience possible. There are hundreds of local Italian students who are working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth running regatta. From holding on to your personal bag while you’re practicing, handing you your oar when launching, holding your shoes, etc. We really appreciate how enthusiastic these kids are about helping and being apart of a global competition. Many of the kids will approach us and ask a random question in English just to utilize the opportunity to learn/practice another language. They view us as super-atheletes and it is a truly heartwarming feeling.
The only downside has been that the weather has not been the friendliest. It has been mid 80s with all-day rain and a 75 percent humidity. The water is very choppy and windy, making it very difficult to find the fastest speed of our boat. Nevertheless, the training we’ve received on Seneca Lake has prepared us well for these types of conditions. On the brighter side of things, Lago di Varese is breathtakingly beautiful. We are surrounded by mountains smothered with wildlife and villages that can been seen for miles. Behind the mountains sit the huge, beautiful, snow-covered Swiss Alps that honestly appear to be the size of the entire sky.
However, even with all of the beautiful distractions and experiences, Rob and I are practicing hard and with intent. We are counting down the days until our first race (Wednesday afternoon TBD). We have limited internet access so we will continue to update all our supporters as frequently as possible. To all of those reading this: Rob and I truly appreciate all of the support you have shown us this summer. The memories and experiences we are gaining through this trip will forever be with us. We could not have made with without you. Please continue to follow our progress throughout the week as there should be an exciting conclusion!
Go Statesmen and Go USA!