Sorry for the belated update… I didn’t expect the hotel’s internet to be so expensive! ($2 for 15 minutes! Highway robbery)
We arrived safe and sound in Hamilton, New Zealand, after a long 36 hours of travel (35 hours, 46 minutes, and 56 seconds, not that we were counting). The journey itself wasn’t too difficult, just lengthy. However, any jet lag grumbles were eased by the beautiful sunny skies and welcome reception we received at the Auckland airport. We had an official escort through the airport, and our own expedited line through customs and inspections. An interesting contrast: while American airports have bomb-sniffing dogs, the New Zealand airport hosts a pack of fruit-detecting beagles to sniff out any rogue apples or bananas… NZ is obviously very protective of their biosecurity.
The surest cure for jet lag is exercise, so after a short rest at our hotel, we all loaded the buses for the forty-minute drive to Lake Karapiro. A visit to the course answered the age-old question: “How do your boats get to New Zealand?” Well, after the Lucerne World Cup, all of the shells are packed into shipping containers and loaded onto a cargo ship for the long trip to the Southern Hemisphere. In order to fit into the containers, the largest boats are actually split in half and bolted together on site (see the photo, below)
The rigging process is probably the most time-consuming task of our sport (besides trailer loading!), as everything has to be assembled, tightened, measured, and double-checked. In a perfect, non-jetlagged world, it would *still* take a few hours!
But now that everything is put together, we’re quickly getting into our pre-competition routine. Lake Karapiro is absolutely beautiful, with eight lanes on the course, with an additional 4k stretch of water above the starting line. The countryside along the water is green and beautiful; we actually feel like we’re actually rowing through Middle Earth! I haven’t spotted any hobbits or orcs yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled!)
Racing begins on Oct. 31 and everyone is getting more and more excited to duke it out against other boats. As more countries arrive, the course becomes more and more crowded, and it’s not uncommon to hear “Look Out!” yelled in several different languages. Lucky for us, Mary is without-a-doubt the most adept and talented coxswain on the water, and she keeps us safe from any rogue men’s quads and the like. Our heat is temporarily scheduled for noon on Tuesday (that would be Monday at 4pm on the West Coast!), and good news!, racing will be streaming live on both universalsports.com and worldrowing.com.
Wish us luck, and send fast thoughts our way! Go Team USA!
(more updates to come as soon as I find any $2 NZ coins to put into the hotel computer…)