Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Oar saga continues in Bled

Firstly, thank you. Thank you so much for the donations on the oars. We are so grateful and honoured to have your faith and resources with us. Will will race even harder than hard knowing we have this showing from you!

We still don't have the Croker S4's we need. The Staempfli contact who had promised us sculls aka blades aka oars, brought us medium shaft. Us little lightweights can't get medium shafts to bend, giving us the nice whip effect through the water. Looks like Max Schellenbacher from Schellenbacher GmbH can help us tomorrow afternoon. I just hope we get to row in them, paint them all before our race on Friday! Is it too much? I don't know. This is that 2%. And if it came down to China and the USA on the final and we win or lose my milliseconds....

Thank you to Michael Callahan, (UW Men's coach) and Cas Rekers (RP inventor) for using their connections to help get oars.

What is means to race for the USA in Bled

The USA team arrived on Sunday and beautiful Park Hotel. The hotel is right on the water at the start line. The buffet meals, as picky lightweights on paleo diets is perfect! Great variety of salads and veggies. We have arugula and cooked fennel. Not just any greens!
Tired bodies walked themselves to the boat area to find our Fillipi and rig. Then tired bodies took to the water and made our first row in calm waters. I say calm now, because as the week progressed, calm was not the word anymore.
We were also given local bikes to get to the course and back. Abby and I got to the bike handout last, so Abby's bike called Hercules doesn't hold a gear for sh!t But my purple beauty did the job. As the week progressed, Hercules was retired, Abby took on the purple beauty and Ursula set out on foot.
On Monday and Tuesday, only the USA and China was seen on the course. I felt part of a deep seeded past. But this time, I was living it; not reading about it in Mrs Sommerville's history class. This time, I now as a US Citizen am a soldier part of this cold war. Although those walls long past, it still moved me.
As our rows progressed, rigging tensions came up. Carlos on video camera at the finish, communicated with us relentlessly. How to get us faster, that's what we talked about. A LOT.
Today, Wednesday we saw more teams arrive. In usual style the GB team arrived in military style. Small but wide pick-up like trucks one after the other, bikes, tents..., their presence is announced. China, although here already by the time we came has a huge showing. The yellow clothing with red stars show up everywhere. We have three china boats in our event. Looks like Kat Grainger from GB is doubling up in the World Cup. Thus does it still really seem that outrageous that I doubled up at NSR 1?
Carlos having to self fund his accommodation is hold head high. We would not be as ready as we feel without his energy. Thank you!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Packing, Painting, Praying for Bled

We have been doing solid work on Lake Carnegie here in Princeton. Launching from the house of Margery Mark, our Filippi double has gone to the Princeton Boathouse and back, to the finish of the 2km course and back... and back.

As the final things start coming together for Bled, I see it like a juxtaposition of a white canvas to white blades. Our canvas is being prepared and painted, step my step. Some things being stripped away to reveal the red, white and blue underneath. I feel so fortunate to be part of such a colourful journey. And filled with unbelievable challenges.

We found out yesterday after all the painting we did, we can't even take these S4 Crokers with us to Bled, because the plane from Frankfurt to Ljubljana is too small to accommodate the length. So we have been pounding the phones and emails and skype for any Europe contacts to see if we can get the S4 soft ultralight blades in Bled for this USA LW2x. So far, unsuccessful. So we might end up racing with the regular S2's. Now if you can imagine a tightrope walker, training all the time with a bar and it has a weight and a balance point, this is what we face. We will have heavier shafts a week before racing that we will have to adapt to. And well, that's it.

Some links of interest for the racing to set the scene:
World Rowing Website >
Here is the list of entries for the LW2x > click on LW2x
Provisional Schedule here >

We have 3 boats from China. The Greek stroke is doubling up and rowing the LW1x as well. Tere whom I raced with last year in my first world cup will also be racing. Looks like we start the heats on Friday at 11:42am. My South African family will be happy because Bled is on the same time zone!

As an extra fun image, the last time I painted blades was for Rika racing in a world cup. Painting the SA blades ended up giving me good practice for the simplified but similar USA design! All things are connected.

As a final note before we leave Princeton, I want to thank our generous hosts, Tom and Peggy. And then we also got the opportunity to stay with Jan and Harold. Thank you so much! And also thank you once again to the Dwyer family and to Sherri, for providing wonderful food to keep us all going.

I have also come to realize how much fund-raising we will need to do in the future to make all this sustainable. Looks like we will need to buy blades in Bled!

Yes, I will blatantly put a donate paypal button here if you can help us! Baie Dankie! (Thank you in Afrikaans)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On to Bled, after an NSR 2 Final Gold

The Gold Star was shining, even though the rough waters stirred. Abby and I made it down the course and crossed the finish line, positioning us for an entry to Bled. At the dock we were met by the official to weigh the boat and escort us to the USADA tent. Enter Ursula's first drug testing experience. Well, three attempts and two hours later, I finally filled my cup and was able to leave the tent. Then met with Fred and Matt, to discuss the trip to Bled and how we would afford to take Carlos with us as our coach.

We are leaving for Bled on Saturday, May 22. We are staying at Hotel Park. The hotel looks like a great spot to be. Hotel Bled >
Google Maps >
The providential racing schedule for the World Cup  (LW2x) here >
More about Slovenia as a World Cup location here >

This week's logistics are crazy. Rigging the Filippi, painting blades to the USA colours, nourishing at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, where else, right? And getting enough sleep as the humidity rises here in Princeton. After all said and done, we should be back in Seattle June 1st. Carlos will stay on to support our UW team at the IRA's. Well done to the UW who were strong at the PAC 10's! Another great weekend filled with results and resolutions.

Friday, May 14, 2010

NSR 2 Time Trials after photo shot

A happy Ursula, Carlos and Abby take a quick pause and smile for the camera after the time trial. A crazy, confusing, cross, something wind took them down the course one by one in time trial style. One check mark down, but the work comes in on Saturday for the final. Reports of a thunderstorm may delay racing to Sunday morning. The east coast humidity has set in, and after another run to the Whole Foods, the Seattle Crew is fueled and ready to race, be it tomorrow, or the next.... or the next.
Read USRowing News >

Thank you to JL Racing for some great uni's designed for the finals. Let the stars prevail!

Finals will be held Saturday 7:30 a.m. Watch racing live on the Team USA Rowing Channel beginning at 7 a.m. EDT Saturday, May 15 at
For complete results, visit

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The late, Emil Kossev said to Abby, "you are a long term project but one day you will be a star." I have used the star symbol as a connection to my adage: 'One sees bars the other the stars!' I guess someone once called me Urshie-Star and the idea was planted. Now two girls both with the stars in their eyes are reaching for the top. If we go for the top and reach for the stars, we might not not get there, but we won't come down with a handful of mud either. Thus the journey is born. And it has already begun with an incredible week of training on Lake Samish at the new Carlos Dinares facility in Bellingham, WA.

So follow us tomorrow as the Womens LW 2x on Powerhouse Timing and lets see how far and fast down the rabbit hole we go! We are racing under the star uni's in the Silver Star Hudson lent to us by Margery, Loretta and Karen. Thank you Ladies! The same boat Renee and Jen made their debut in! Let the good flow keeps its momentum going with us, as a new combination ready to go to Bled, Slovenia!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bellingham Beauty

We are here training at the most beautiful place! Carlos has developed a house and training facility on Lake Samish in beautiful Bellingham. Abby and I are doing our miles in this very special place. The house built is nothing on the ordinary bar. The olympic rings still stare upon us. We are working in a very special way in a very special place!