Carol and Ruth Bring Home the Gold
Lawrence, MA/June 16: NBC’s Carol Browning and Ruth Berenson’s master doubles race at the Lawrence Celebration Regatta was going to be one of those fun events devoid of gritty competition. Alas, it quickly moved into the realm of a race of epic proportions. It was our color-coordinated NBC double versus four other tandems, CRI, Northampton, Maritime, and a team of vaunted scullers from GMS, which is only slightly north of Saugatuck.
As Ruth explains it, “The conditions just kept getting worse. The water was terrible, we had gusts coming across the river pushing us to starboard and through it all we kept our cool.” This was the Lawrence Merrimack River Course of 1000 meters, but Carol and Ruth paid homage to our Seekonk River and its knack for making our home workouts as challenging as possible. As Ruth put it, “Thanks (to Albin) for taking us out in all its incarnations.” The waters of the Merrimack were now roiling with joy as these doubles started their race.
Off the start Carol and Ruth were a little shaky but they just pulled long and strong to get their rhythm going. Hi Tech was a loser for this one: their stroke coach wasn't working, so they just winged it and tried to stay ahead. After all, they were in Lane 6, one of the outposts of racing. All of a sudden Ruth, who at stroke was doing all she could to keep her eyes and mind in the boat, heard Carol yell, "We are in this!” Carol noted from her perch at bow that the pack was within reach and that, in fact, the NBC duo was in the thick of it. Duly inspired, they both pulled harder. At about 750 they took it up a bit and by then it was only NBC and GMS, racing in Lane 2, on the flip side of the course. The Lane 1 entry had the temerity, or wisdom, to withdraw from the competition.
So now it was GMS and NBC pushing each other toward the finish line, straining to do all they could to move ahead and still afloat. By now NBC moved ahead of GMS and was into their sprint for the last 250 meters. At the end it was difficult to determine who the actual winner would be since the two crews were so evenly matched.
The end result in handicapped time was 1st NBC, 4:10.0; 2nd GMS, 4:14.0; 3rd Maritime, 4:25.2; 4th CRI, 4:37.5; 5th Northampton, 5:55.9. In raw time, the slightly younger GMS tandem was faster by .2 of a second, but for the NBC double it was their age, the beauty of their rowing in the rough conditions, and their year-round training that made them extremely competitive. That's where their handicap kicked in with ease. As Carol put it, “It was neck to neck with two women who are historically pretty good. They could not handle the water and we just stayed long and strong. It was so thrilling for sure to come home not only with a win, but especially since it was a HookFast gold medal!!!”