Race Report 2016 HOOCH: 5 of our 6 boats in the top 11 - even Felix smiling

Two years ago, Saturday racing at the Head of the Hooch was cancelled and the idea for CHaOS was born.  This year, the announcer at the venue made sure everybody on the venue heard that CHaOS stands for Clearly a Happier amateur Oar Society.

Again we were extremely fortunate having friends in high places: William secured us a premier rigging area right next to the launch dock, facilitated the use of the nicest Resolute 4+ any of us ever rowed, got all our sweep oars not only fixed but made like new, and was our personal photographer.


The weekend’s racing served as a benchmark for what we have achieved over the last 24 months – AND setting the goals for the next 12 months.

Masters Men 4+ (Mike M, Andy, Richard S, Jason & cox Kate)

It is the big irony of the weekend that the boat who trained the most for this year’s Hooch was least rewarded. All of us were really impressed how this group of sweepers formed, braved the cold and the dark to come together as a crew.

They were so keen to do well when William pushed them off the dock – but came back deflated.

Irony, too, that it was a water bottle (not Scotch) that threw the Scot, the Englishman and the two Americans off-course.
However, they completely lived up to the club motto “Look Good and do not come in Last”.

Let’s hope they do not give up, but rather use the experience as motivation to form a regular sweep group that will do much better next year.

Master Men 4x (Richard M, Felix, Rob, Tim)

3rd place, first medal at the Hooch ever for CHaOS (and what used to be the CMCC men’s team). Rob stresses that it is his second Hooch medal, the first one won when he was still a lightweight racing in the open men’s 4+ and the Hooch was raced in Atlanta.

It was a less than perfect race. We had the best start ever. Problem was that we started at the beginning of the shoot – rather than at the start line. Almost got a penalty for passing in the shoot. Second start was not as good.

the first start was more impressive than the second - and the buoy was a true blocker


Then we came to a complete stop when hitting a buoy mid-course – but Rob’s call “power 10” saved us. At a 40 or so stroke rate, we had the fastest recovery ever.

The guys who won gold had a 178 second handicap. It would be easy to blame our 3rd place on that. However, analyzing the raw times revealed that we only beat them by a few seconds in raw time. Their stroke man is 86 years old (rowed with us last Xmas). He said then whenever somebody comes close, he brings up the rate to 36.

We cannot (yet) row a steady 36 – but we will be able to do that at the next Hooch!

Mixed Master 4x (almost a 5x) (Henry, Rob, Shayla, Rebekah)

That was the surprise of the day. What can you possibly expect from a crew that

  • rows a boat with a rudder that does not really work
  • has never sat in the same boat
  • has a handicap of measly 5 seconds
  • has a bow woman that is hot seating (2 races within 80 minutes) AND rowing for 2

The 5th person in the boat helped. They came in a remarkable 11th out of 18 and easily beat all the benchmarks set for the boat - in spite of having to stop for boats that would not yield!

Henry set a steady pace that was easy to follow, Rebekah did a wonderful job steering (her first time steering in a race), Rob sparked the confidence, and Shayla supplied plenty of muscle to power them down the course.

We all wonder what would have happened if they actually had practiced.

Rumor has it that they “look forward to an opportunity to compete again and improve the results, a medal should not be out of the realm of possibilities with some hard work and a little luck.” 

Hopefully, we will find out next year!!!

Master Men 2x (Felix, Tim)

One of the competitive races because all the old guys want to prove that they are not old yet and the youngsters cannot admit that they are out of shape.

Tim steered a perfect course and claims that Felix rowed like a machine.

Problem was that we passed all the boats early and had an extremely lonely 2000 meters in the middle of the race until we reached the island. Even though we managed to keep the pace up (kind of) another Empacher to chase would have really helped (we took care of the only Empacher on the first 50 strokes).

In the end we came in 9th out of 26 boats (both on placement and raw time). The fastest boat from North Carolina, easily beating all the benchmarks on placement as well as on raw time.

We were not happy just after the race.
However, when we saw that we beat our personal best 5K time by 4.5 second per 500 meters (water speed – thus corrected for the flow of the river) we were more satisfied. The well-executed sprint over the last 400 meters is the source for the improvement (even with Felix washing out on port blade as in his worst days).

Between now and next year we will have to improve another 50 seconds over 5000 meters. To become comfortable and efficient at an average 31 stroke rate is therefore the goal for the next 12 months.

Master Men 1x 55 to 64 (Tim, Richard)

We are glad Tim did not scratch (as he contemplated after the 2x race).

He started ahead of Richard, steered an absolutely perfect course and was able to keep Richard at bay (whoever tried that knows what achievement that is). We know that Tim is always good for a surprise.

In the end he came in 10th (both placement and raw time) out of 20 entries. Leaving the benchmarks easily behind him (but found a new benchmark from Ashville for next year).

Richard was the most serious in training for the Hooch. He had two clearly defined goals:

  • Gaining on the guy from Atlanta who beat him in High Point
  • Stop digging with his starboard oar.

He achieved both.

  • Placed 7th out of 20 entries
  • Posted the 3rd fastest raw time in his event

Richard was racing the rower who started 2 positions ahead of him from the start to the finish line. Side by side they plowed down the course like a freight train. Fun to watch – scary when overtaken by them!

Richard also declared that he wants to lose 50 seconds over the next 12 months – we will have to be innovative on how to achieve that – he looked pretty darn good already. But not hitting buoys would maybe help to lose 10 of the 50 seconds (and become the fastest man in North Carolina over 45).


5 of our 6 boats finished in the top 11 boats of their category – not bad as a second birthday present for our club - reason to be proud! Even Felix is smiling for once …


You for sure wonder what our other members did that weekend:

  • Reid celebrated his Medicare birthday – Happy Birthday!
  • Amelia was a Chair at the biggest ENT surgeon meeting
  • Tara broke her personal best (and with it the club best) in dead lifts
  • Dan was on the water by 6.30
  • Ben shot another deer
  • Carol graded 79 papers
  • Mike K celebrated an Irish wedding on Saturday and ran the New York Marathon in 3 hours 5 minutes on Sunday

 CHaOS- just a bunch of over-achievers!