|The 1961 International Lifeboat Race was run over a course of a mile just off the Bay Ridge shoreline at "D". A good view of the race could also be had from the World Famous 69th Street Dock - "C".
For us in the Geiger team, New York's Upper Bay on the Brooklyn side from "A" to "D" was our proving ground...our "stomping" ground...so to speak. Up at "A" we'd cruise the Gowanus Canal at times for a little site-seeing...a really smelly place, but then the entire harbor smelled in those days. Today I understand the waters in the Bay are alot better do to envionmental measures. Anyways, the chart shows our bailywick. At times a "high powered" ( a thousand, or more HP ) tug would go by and give us a bit of realism, leaving behind a five to six foot high swell...that was fun.
The Army Terminal - shaded pink in the graphic was centrally located for this play ground. The Red Dot was where as a kid growing up in Brooklyn I used to live, but not then, having moved to Lawn Guy Land ( Long Island ) in '53.
Race Day arrived...it was a long time ago - over forty-years ago - 1961...don't even remember the month...never thought I'd be writing about this episode in my life. As with most of my younger days, it all melded into one...didn't make much difference...like being in a funk all the time. Only the significant parts stand out. The arrival of this day meant my job as coach was over. No more Stand By Your Oars; Out Oars; Stand By To Give Way; Give Way Together...Stroke, Stroke, Stroke.
Wouldn't even be finishing a row...Oars; Stand By To Boat Your Oars...Boat Your Oars. None of the fancy Stand By To Toss Oars...Toss Oars...nor Oars; Stand By To Hold Water; Hold Water All...and maybe finish up with: Back Water All. To turn the boat in a circle clockwise: from Oars: Port Stand By To Give Way; Give Way Together; Starboard Stand By To Backwater; Backwater Together. You, as Coxswain would assist with the Sweep...then wind it up with: Oars All. All very simple...but bloody, bloody, bloody.
The boats used in the match came from one, or both Maritime Academies - Kings Point, and Fort Schyler, but Kings Point stands out more so in my mind. We used to race them...always beat 'em. They would compete in the Official Race...never placed as far as I know...but they were quite young. From where the boats were boarded after being towed down river to the event place I don't remember. All I remember was being on a tug, or some other vessel as a spectator along with those not chosen as the "best of the best"...determined by Husband - the Coxswain.
I do remember it as a nice sunny day...the shore lined with people watching. Don't even remember the start, but do remember the Norwegians way out ahead, their quick, short stroke being the magic thing. I remember the Esso team neck, and neck with my guys, and taking second place in the race by a Stem Width - three inches...my guys placing third...qualifying for the shin-dig at the St. George Hotel. Those three boats left the dozen or so other entries way behind. Darned if I can remember the rest of that day, or who in dickens was in our boat except Husband.
Isn't that funny?
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