Friday, February 1, 2008

Rowing naked

Writing yesterday’s blog entry brought back a few memories. It’s 1996, and I’ve recently taken up a new position at University College London as deputy director of the development office. Surfing the Internet, I see that Sir Chay Blythe is setting up a new trans-Atlantic rowing challenge, in two-person, set-design boats. A bit more research and I find out that there’s a Kiwi entry on the books, and the chap’s looking for a team-mate. I send this Rob Hamill an e-mail, and a few days later he calls me back from Hamilton, NZ, with me in London, UK. It’s a done deal, and I just have to get a few months off…

Having just started this new position, my boss goes to UCL’s provost to discuss the proposal. She comes back with a negative, but a new, better contract, and a conviction that they really are trying to save my life.

I call Rob back and tell him the sad news.

Next year, Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs – in Kiwi Challenge – win the inaugural trans-Atlantic rowing race, in 41 days and two hours. Their chalk-and-cheese relationship doesn’t survive the distance.

December 1998 and planning another trans-Atlantic challenge with Steve Westlake, Phil is killed
when his light plane nosedives into Karekare beach.

Unbeknownst to me, living in the UK for five years before returning home for the first time to visit my whanau, Phil’s dad, Dave Stubbs, and his wife Sonja, both keen yachties, are two of my parents’ closest friends, living close to each other in Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula. Dave and I chat long about Phil on that visit, and still keep in touch.

Rob publishes The Naked Rower, describing his 1997 trans-Atlantic rowing adventure. It turns out that rowing naked, sitting on NZ sheepskin, keeps away the salt sea boils so often afflicting those in constantly moving, wet, salty conditions.

Life’s its own great story.


Michael said...

Great story Kristen! So many meetings, coincidences. I sometimes wonder how random are they? Is there something out there?

DaveO said...

I generally make decisions based upon one of two theories, the "small world" theory or the "they'll never see me again" theory. Small world seems to be winning out more and more and has saved me much embarassment over the years. Great story.

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

Interesting... you're paddling with us right? :-)