Growing up in land-locked rural Canada, I dreamed of living by the sea. I dreamed of boats and scuba diving and beautiful beaches. Instead, I had trees and wilderness and horses to ride. Not a bad trade, but I wanted to be on the water.
In college at last I had a chance to crew for yacht races, “hauling sheet” for an engineering professor, who was a terrible sailor, colliding with another boat at a regatta, well before any races had started. When we moved to Florida, my in-laws gave us a 16 foot daysailer called the “Sloup de Jour”. She needed work and cleaning, but before long we sailed the lakes and coast of Florida, even overnighting with our 5 year old son and several hundred thousand mosquitos.
My rowing career started as my son’s karate career ended. The sight of an 18 year old kid kicking my son’s 14 year old head, and his eyes looking glazed and broken, led us to seek out the newly founded Lake County Rowing Association. They had one 8+ of very distinguished vintage, a set of oars donated from the University of Central Florida Knights women’s team, and a very enthusiastic set of founders and coaches. They let our whole family row together in their first Learn to Row. All three of us were hooked. Such an elegant sport and such great exercise. The beauty of being on the water combined with a workout you just don’t get in a sailboat.
I rowed through years of cancer treatment. I rowed a head race on chemo. I hope to be rowing and racing in my 90’s, where the competition will still be fierce, and the competitors as gnarly as I am. I’ll retire near a good rowing club. I’ll move to a rec-single if I have to, but I will stay on the water. Just try and stop me
-Ross Thomson, AAA Masters