Having talked with Anne about making a visit to Glienicke Brücke since before the Unity Day race last October, we finally managed to do so last Thursday. We made a tour of it together, sprinkling in a few other sites from that portion of the Wannsee along the way. I discovered, not surprisingly, that I’ve already been enjoying the best view of the duo-toned bridge for months from the optimal vantage point: the water. Continue reading
Thursday was the Unity Day race, and though I emailed my interest to several people at the club and told many more, there were no women’s boats from our club participating in Thursday’s 15 km. regatta. I was hoping that some rower would drop out at the last minute, and someone else would remember there’s that crazy American woman who wants to row this race, get her down here. But no such luck.
I did, however, go to the party. I met my friend A at the Wannsee S-Bahn station and from there we walked the few blocks to the Berliner Ruder Club, the hosts of this event. They are one of two elite men’s clubs in the city, located on the Kleine Wannsee, just south of the bridge that separates the wild and woolly Wannsee from the narrow, more riverlike water. We arrived in time to watch the presentation of the silver cups to the winners. The winning team came from their own club, and the introductions went on for so long that it became clear they were highly decorated rowers with many international wins among them.
I got a whole new sense of the caliber of my Berlin rowing club yesterday. All those wooden gig boats and their casual steady state rows threw me for a loop. They did not prepare me for how accomplished this club really is.
Yesterday afternoon the club held a club-wide regatta on the Wannsee. I could have just showed up in the morning for a casual 17 km. row, but I decided instead to check out the regatta and see what it was like.
Only rowers from their club could participate. All races would be 500 meters. They had buoys strung up for the three lanes of the course, and you raced toward shore where the rest of the club was watching.
For anyone who doesn’t row, 500 meters is a very short race. It’s basically an all-out sprint for about or under two minutes. More typical sprint races are 2000 meters in the spring, or longer ~5000 meter head races in the fall.
I arrived at 2:30 p.m., worried I was late for the 3 p.m. start, but it turned out I wouldn’t be racing until late in the day. I was sitting on the patio with my new friend Anne watching the activity below. We had rowed a quad together the week before, and we hit it off. We were at a table with two young men I hadn’t met before. In an aside to me, she mentioned that these two men had each won medals at the World Cup rowing championships, one of them just two weeks ago in South Korea.
They were looking at the regatta schedule and noticed that there was only one boat scheduled for the mixed quad race, which without an opponent would have to scratch. Anne suggested, jokingly, that the four of us enter it. To my great surprise, her friends agreed. She looked at me, and I shrugged and said, “Of course!” And she and one of the men disappeared and entered our names. And the afternoon started to look a whole lot different.