STANFORD, Calif. – The Stanford Men’s Rowing team built some team chemistry over the weekend with a two-day rowing safari through several waterways in California.
“It was a huge bonding experience,” said freshman Ryan Hails. “Everybody knew everybody else but maybe not as much on a personal level. This trip allowed everyone to put themselves out there and have fun while also doing some training exercises.”
The team left The Farm at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning and drove three hours North to Lake Sonoma. From there the group headed out in four four’s, one pair and three singles for an 18-mile round trip row. They went nine miles, turned around, and went back another nine miles to the start.
“Lake Sonoma was absolutely incredible,” said Hails. “We did not expect it at all. We thought it would be a regular circular lake with an open area but it was like a long winding river without a source.”
The weather wasn’t perfect for the Cardinal rowers as wind gusts around 30 mph turned the training exercise into somewhat of a survival exercise.
“We had some really good racing on Lake Sonoma,” said freshman Ryan O’Rourke. “The winds picked up and two of the fours actually sank at the end. It could have been a really bad experience but we turned it into a positive and had fun with it.”
The weather conditions may have temporarily put a couple of boats under water but didn’t dampen the spirits of the Stanford Crew. It was quite the opposite as it helped form the bonds even more.
“I think you become really good friends with someone by suffering through some hard times together and sharing great moments,” said Hails. “It was a combination of both. The conditions made it difficult but we got through it. I feel a lot closer to everyone in my boat and I know other guys feel the same way. It is something I will remember and talk about forever.”
After leaving Lake Sonoma the team went to a ranch at the top of a mountain called Monkey Rock in Mendocino National Forest. There the group had dinner and hung out for a while before resting for the evening.
On Sunday the group went to Petaluma and spent about an hour rowing on the Petaluma River. Afterwards the team was welcomed by junior Scott Roycroft’s family at their house for lunch. Refueled following the morning workout, the team then capped off the trip with another light row in Marin City on Richardson Bay.
“In the middle of the winter when you are getting up at 5 a.m. to go train you know all of your friends and teammates are getting up too,” said O’Rourke. “Knowing you have climbed a mountain or rowed 18 miles with those guys makes an hour and a half workout not seem too bad.”
To close out the trip Head Coach Craig Amerkhanian blasted the song “Surfin Safari” by the Beach Boys through his megaphone while chanting “U.S.A.” and “Stanford Crew.”
This trip wasn’t the first team-building trip of the year for Stanford. Early in the fall when the freshmen were still getting acclimated to being in college, the team took a trip to Yosemite National Forest to climb up a mountain.
“Yosemite had its training portion in the beginning when we ran up the mountain,” said Hails. “Then we ended up walking up the rest of the mountain together as a team. It had the best of both worlds too. We got a really hard workout with our team but at the very end you were helping each other out. It didn’t have anything to do with rowing but it made us closer and that is what is important to us as a team.”
It was another team-building exercise that helped the guys become closer.
“Guys said it would be hard but for a lot of guys we were pretty tired,” said O’Rourke. “It was a great team-bonding trip. It was only a couple of weeks into the season so I didn’t know all the guys but after that trip I knew everybody’s name and we felt closer because we suffered through that.”
The two team-building trips benefit the guys as they go through training for the spring season. Maybe because of the two trips, Coach Amerkhanian will be playing the Beach Boys song “Make it Big” over the megaphone at the end of the season.