This is Stefan. And those are his Revo sunglasses. They were cool 14 years ago when he bought them and they're still cool now. So is Stefan. He's my rowing partner and good friend. But we rarely talk.
Those of you who row or train with someone on a regular basis will understand. I row with Stefan about three mornings a week and have done so for years, yet there are mornings we barely speak except to comment on the tide.
We're training partners. We are friends. We don't socialize. When I call Stefan (rare because texting is our preferred mode of communication and even then it's only to confirm, cancel, or check in on rowing conditions), the photo that appears on his phone is of the back of my head. I'm stroke. He's bow. That explains it. In fact I didn't even know Stefan had a beard until one morning when it was actually light enough for me to notice as we carried the boat to the dock.
It's an odd friendship but a good one. We trust and respect each other. And in addition to being the best open water rower on the bay, Stefan is also a certified behavioral therapist – and that's quite handy as I have a huge fear of water.
Weird, I know.
The thing is that I'm okay with being on the water, I'm just not one of those people who loves being in the water.
The unfortunate thing is that I'm often rowing in the water—literally. Waves break on my shoulders, the boat fills up, and I'm rowing seat-deep in water, wrestling waves and praying for the moment I can open the boat's self-bailer and watch the water return to the bay.
Time was when these conditions would send me into a panic. Then I started rowing with Stefan, aka Captain Ahab. Stefan loves these kinds of conditions and if rowing through white-capped waves and wily tide rips is the faster course, so be it. Luckily for me, Stefan has counseled me through and while I'm still not thrilled to be in the rough stuff, I've learned to relax a little and deal with it.
So here's to Captain Ahab. It's not his birthday or anything. I just took this photo of him last week and it got me thinking – I'm really lucky to have him as a training partner and a friend.
(okay, and shameless plug, here's Stefan's site. He won't tell me if you contact him. Because 1. We never talk, and 2. He's an ethical, stand-up guy and consummate professional.)