Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 Calendar -ORDER NOW

I have put together a really fun calendar that I'm hoping you will enjoy as much as I did taking the pictures, making the memories, and now sharing them with you! This calendar contains my wonderful travels in America, South Africa & Netherlands, and rightfully added are the national holidays of those countries! Spain, Luzern, New Zealand are also included!

Attached are a few sample pages of the calendar. Its a normal sized square calendar (12 inches x 12 inches) (30cm x 30cm).
Price is $37.00. Pay on paypal with credit card and I'll get this in the mail to you right away!

Also up for order is my first go at a little booklet done is a light-hearted drawing, journal-like theme to encourage interaction through learning about nutrition. This is my first writings and one day when I have published a few books, which is my goal, you will look back at this first pdf book download and laugh at the small beginnings we all need to make before we can soar!

More about my paleo winning pdf nutrition booklet for download here : http://paleowinning.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rowing With Laurien Vermulst

Today I had the great honour of taking some strokes in the double with Laurien Vermulst.
Laurien was among one of the first women to experience the introduction of Lightweight Rowing, and further more, the first entry of the lightweight women double scull event into the Olympics. Her coach, Ans Rom Colthoff is connected to the South Holland Talent Center where we are training and so the threads of great dutch sculling is woven thick. Further more, Laurien raced a great a race in the 1991 Vienna World Champs against New Zealand sculler Philippa Baker. I had the great pleasure of meeting Philippa at the Billy Webb Challenge that I rowed in last year after the 2010 New Zealand World Champs. Philippa named Laurien's boat, Kia Khaha which is a Māori phrase for "Be Strong". Hillary got the hnour of rowing in the boat for the camp in Belgium and for racing in the Hell of the North in Groningen, which was cancelled due to high winds.
I just love how the stories interview and touch down on us so many worlds apart. Rowing really is a small world.
If you have a european isp you can view the race here >>

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Silverskiff - Torino 2011 - CANCELLED

Well how about that. The race that didn't race. In 20 years it had never been cancelled, and this is the year.

We arrived on Sunday and was immediately immersed into the course with the compliments from the Cerea Club launch and our wonderful host Vittorio Soave (the man who started the Silverskiff). This 77 year old is filled with vitality and logistical persistence. And a heart filled with love and dedication. As the week progressed he treated us to lunch, dinner, another dinner and a movie showing of their voyage rowing from Torino to London; a 1500m feat.

I rowed and mapped the course daily in the Cerea Club single, and enjoyed the calm water. It was in direct conflict to surfacing weather reports mapping out disaster. I felt this was impossible, and a false weather report (who believes the weather reports anyway.) However rain came. Then an update that we were now racing on Saturday. Filippi boats were to be arriving on Thursday, and in true Italian style, arrived Friday!

Friday was rigging in the rain. Went out for a row in the rain. And then rigging again in the rain, and dampening cold. The first boat rental from Filippi didn't work for me. Luckily there was another boat available. However 4pm now, Friday- race tomorrow. This has got to be training in overcoming adversity.

Saturday morning I went out early for a row in the other boat just rigged late last night. There were gushing river inlet flows. I left the last 500m as my cherry for later that day's racing. On my way back a Police vehicle were riding alongside the course. Funny how I noticed that, when I don't usually see the cars driving by. I guess a sense of something to come. Back to the hotel, and resting waiting for my start which would come at about 1:20. Then it happened: an email from Hillary: race cancelled. And indeed on the Silverskiff site, there it said: Race cancelled, determined by the Police.

Well, later we walked over to the course to scoop out what cancelled looks like. Walking umbrella'd under pouring rain. Looking over the course, it didn't seem that bad. And knowing that I had rowed it that morning... it wasn't that bad. These guys should come row an NSR on Mercer sometime! So now you had people scrambling looking for earlier flights home. Then Enzo came by and said, we are going out at 2, want to join us? Now Enzo and I battle paddled each other earlier the week. So I was up for the challenge. Just had to check in with Filippi if I could keep the boat a little longer. Yes, with a beer in hand, they would wait for me. So at 1:15, little earlier than scheduled, we embarked. I was not quite geared to race, no stroke coach and garmin, so estimated by time as 45-46min. There were a ton of tree branches. One branch that was perfectly in a v-shape hooked my skag caused a complete stop and backing and swerving to dislodge it. I guess I didn't have the difficulty of steering around competitors, but the tree branches gave me something else to overcome in fall head racing style.

So that is my Silverskiff report 2011.

I have some more photos here: Flickr

Silverskiff Web

Monday, October 10, 2011


Hands waving clearly describing
Elegance in fingers combined instruction
The beauty of the motion
The breathtaking glide
Absolute simplicity
Coach to rower, to race, to victory.

--6/27/07 10:11 PM

Regatta Blues

White deck constant
White deck constant
On top
Spider webs of linears
Arms, legs, shafts
Extend and contract
On edges
Water reacting to
One, Two, Push off.

--6/26/07 09:18 PM

Friday, September 30, 2011


A week change
In the training
Resulting in
Beat up
Bruised and thoroughly
Used body
Muscles laced with
Just behind the eye
But the mind
Week after week
The goal stays the same.

--6/25/07 10:20 PM

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Come Together "

At 16, I was drowning out my teenage angst by blasting Bush's Sixteen Stone. It got me through some pretty tough and dark times. More than 10 years later, I saw Gavin Rossdale in concert, live, right there, in person, and it was awesome. He was so animated and connected with the crowd. I felt like I could get a sense of him, as if I knew him. Feeling this connection through the distance of a stage and rock-band persona was memorizing. The real thing can not, CAN NOT be beaten. The influence that these guys had over me, makes me realise the connection we have as human's to each other. I recently watched a Lindsey Vonn documentary. She spoke about a woman downhill skier she idolized as a child saying one day, I want to be like her. And now she is; even better I would argue.
You never know when you could be that platform for someone else to jump from. But only if you be the best you can be and build your own platform to perform on can that happen. Life is but a stage and we have our part to perform our finest hour.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vote for America Rows to help them win a $12,000 grant

Vote for America Rows, the diversity and inclusion program within USRowing, to help them win a $12,000 grant from the United States Olympic Committee.

All you need to do is vote on Facebook by clicking on the link below. First, "Like" the USOlympic Team site and then vote in the USA Grants tab for America Rows. It's simple.


Right now, USRowing is in second place. We need your votes to ensure we win the grant.
Voting goes through midnight Sunday, September 18 and you can vote once a day.

The full message link here: >>

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Goal

 "One should strive for infallibility without claiming to have achieved it." —Malebranche

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tipping Point

A brunt of buoy smacking madness in my World Champ final places me in 4th. I am without the fulfillment of racing my race like I did in the semi. Just one race too soon I had the best race of my single career. And then one race too late, making such a mistake is painfully unlucky... And I laugh thinking of Gary Player's comment: "The more I practise the luckier I get."

I am thinking that the boiling point, or tipping point must be approaching. With just a few changes, a sticking attitude and good training environment, the point is tipping.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finally - the final. Broke through the semi-final ghost

12:27 LW1x (Lightweight Single) with
Great Briton

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Made it through to the Semi-Final on Thursday. The girls are fast and ready to go. So will I, be ready.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The challenge of fundraising continues

The lightweight single is a non-olympic event. That means that USRowing will not fund any part of this opportunity to go represent the USA in a World Championship Regatta. The cost is $3550.00, and that's airfare, NOT INCLUDED!

Ways you can contribute:
1. Paypal (on line)
2. NRF (on line and mail in cheque)
3. Full Email Campaign

National Rowing Foundation (tax deductible)
Mark the boat selection as LW1x and it will be used towards my fundraising efforts.

Or by cheque to:
payable to: National Rowing Foundation or NRF
mail to: National Rowing Foundation > 67 Mystic Road > North Stonington, CT 06359
memo: LW1x boat class

Thank you to everyone who voted in the BMW athlete voting poll. The results will be announced at the end of August. If you would like to still vote, or view the results here is the link >http://www.bmwusa.com/performanceteam

Funding Elite Rowing – a conundrum by Mike Sullivan

As I continue to fund raise, some interesting thoughts have been shared on the google groups of rec.sport.rowing. One post that came from the dilemma's of funding was posted by Mike Sullivan. You can read some of his thoughts here >. Carl Douglas also comments on this thread

His first post on the subject went a little something like this:

The US elite program is sadly dysfunctional, and the biggest problem is simply money.   Masters' Nat'ls are happening in Okla City right now,  you'll see old slow farts like me there with millions of dollars in spending money for shiny new shells,  top of the line hotels, air travel,  fine wining and dining. In the meantime,  a year ago I helped a few elite men over the winter with their training in sculling, and they put together in a pair to race at the Speed Orders in Princeton. These guys were Stanford grads with the potential to make a lot of money in real jobs, smart guys, and absolute athletic studs.    They had the presence and look of pro athletes that could be making millions on a pro team,  or could go out and work in Silicon Valley and make a fortune by the time they turn 30.     They scraped together
money from parents to travel,  and from working part time (good jobs but part time),  and even then
they had to scrounge for a pair to race in at Princeton, I believe it was a 6 year old Wintech from Yale.  They got moved four times in a year and a half to uncertain rowing futures, chasing wherever the nat'l program, coach, and other athletes were supposed to train and have found it very difficult to see where their long term path to success is. No I didn't get paid for coaching them for that 4 month period,  but I
get offers all the time from Masters' people who want individual lessons,  get them ready to go butt-slow over 1k. My response was,  "no I don't have time to coach you or any other masters, but would welcome you paying me to coach our US Olympic team candidates". I would take that money and chip it in to their travel anyway, I don't need the money.
If I sound bitter, I am...   :^)
The Graves bros trained on their own in Newport the last year.   It's possible they got some help from the Newport foundation, I'm not sure, but they won trials, are going to Bled,  with very little support from the US rowing community.   Bless them but their road was difficult in ways that had nothing to do with simply the training and racing.
Ursula Grobler might be the single best rowing talent in the US, and perhaps the best chance the US has for a gold in rowing outside the women's eight.    She's gotten some great help here and there,  Rebecca has been doing good,   but has been bounced like a pinball,  been scrutinized to the Nth degree, criticized, and exploited.   If she were making a pile of money like pro athletes, then some of this scrutiny might be warranted, but she's scraping the bottom like every other elite.
The poor ppl at the local club that have to deal with me.   A guy told me he had $5k to spend on a new
single.   "what should I buy?". 

"you should buy a $2500 Maas 27 and give the other $2500 to the US
Rowing Foundation toward the nat'l team effort".
Then I shrug.  I suppose he could raise $10k, buy a used Empacher for $5k, and give $5k to NRF.  That would be cool. When I coached out of Newport years back,  there were just beginning to be some guys who had singles that wanted to keep them in the rather limited one bay boathouse.    My rules were
simple.   You can have a spot,  give us a little money but I'm going to give your boat to use by an athlete who has nat'l team aspirations that cannot afford his own boat. I'll pick the guy,  there'll only be one,  and these are the hours where he will row it, and he can negotiate with your schedule
for additional hours.     

We insured the boat, and my boatman fixed all dings no matter who dunnit.
Most boat owners liked that arrangement and accepted it,   Not sure if I'd find many takers these days if I did that again. Sort of a commie act, I guess.

I want to append the rant with the following.   I know some masters are offended deeply by my attitude,
clubbers in redwood city see my attitude as 'elitist' and get bothered by some of my advice on boat
purchases, I've seen it here.   I should point out that I teach hundreds and hundreds of new scullers, adults and kids to scull at two different clubs.   In the past three weeks I've introduced a dozen adults to sculling,  treated them with the same respect I treat elites,  taught them all the same things, the
exact same approach and discipline to boat handling on and off the water I expect of a competitive elite.
My attitude is peculiar, but is definitely not elitist.   I've spent too much time with raw, old, out of shape,  unconfident, uncoordinated non-athletes who really want to learn to scull, and learn to scull correctly for me to accept that criticism.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Help Send Me to Bled for the LW1x!

USRowing Senior Trials

On the 4th August at 8:20am I raced in the Senior Trials to secure my spot on the 2011 team. The racing took place on Mercer Lake in Princeton, NJ and the calm waters welcomed me. Thunder and rain the night before left me wondering what dawn would bring. And by dawn, I really was up at 4:30am to see what winds there may be. As a lightweight, our routine starts early. Two hours before the actual race we need to present ourselves to the officials and stand on a scale. 130lbs (59kg) and no more. Making weight is the first part of the 'race'. The second part comes when you launch 40min before, row to the start line, and wait for the call-down. Ms Goldsack, Ms Grobler, Ms Daley... Attention... Holding my breathe, the sound of the buzzer catapults me into a sudden preoccupation with speed and power. Jen Goldsack is from the UK. She holds dual citizenship and raced an unbelievable race in 2007 and got a silver medal for the USA. Watch this great race here >
Our commonwealth commonness gives me a sense of home when I hear her talk. But today, its all on racing and who's bow ball will signal the ending siren first. Down the course we go. My start was a little flimsy. Ok, not what I wanted I mustered, but move on, and move down. Correct. Yes. Light. Legs. These words circle stroke after stroke gaining me momentum that put me ahead. "Final Results in the lightweight women’s single sculls, Ursula Grobler (Pretoria, South Africa) won her race in 7:51.41." Results sheet

On land again, I read over my form that says, Well done, now pay up...


Lightweight Woman Single Scull

Help me

get to Bled and back...

Herein starts the dilemma: The lightweight single is a non-olympic event. That means that USRowing will not fund any part of this opportunity to go represent in a World Championship Regatta. Not only do you train all day, with little income, you must also pay $3550.00, and that's airfare, NOT INCLUDED! A starving athlete plight, I ask if you could please consider a pledge, cash, donation, moolah, quid, $dollars, £pounds, €euro's and/or Rrands to help give me the chance to race in this World Championship Regatta.

Paypal donations here

Or Tax Donations by cheque to:

payable to: National Rowing Foundation or NRF
mail to: National Rowing Foundation > 67 Mystic Road > North Stonington, CT 06359

The IRS does not permit us to accept tax-deductible gifts on behalf of an individual athlete but we are able to accept donations to your BOAT CLASS. Please be sure to ask donors to mark the memo line of checks 'LW1X' or, if donating online at
www.natrowing.org to check off "Other" in the gift designation box and type 'LW1X' in the space provided.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

King 5 TV Channel Tomorrow at 5pm News

Today Allen Schauffler from King 5 News interviewed me, and Dave was on the camera. The story will air tomorrow on the 5pm News Slot.

How Fun?! Allen and Dave endured my entire 20km workout on the water around Seattle. It started with the rain, and grey clouds looming (this is Seattle right?!) but the rain cleared for us, and made the morning quite beautiful. The story aired one year to go towards the Olympics and here is a link to the story > The long, strange journey of Ursula Grobler

Watch the interview clip here >

Monday, July 18, 2011

Racing in World Cup III - Luzern

If I were to make a soundtrack to Luzern, it would go something like this: cowbell, cling, cling-cling. Cling-cling.

The beauty of the place was escaping, meaning the task of racing seemed pleasurable. Sweat runs were dreamy, along the lake and tourist cobbled streets. Dark chocolate was really dark, 99%, and made for a great treat to look forward to after racing. Helvetica signage neatly architectured above the buildings made me smile. And seeing fellow athletes from Spain was great to catch up, as everyone keeps on the journey, believing.

Here is a race-recap>>
Friday morning:
We lost our heat today. Tough draw with Canada, winners from last year. Placed second to them. Only 1 through to semi from heats. We have another chance to race in the reps tonight at 6:24 to get through to the semi tomorrow. It means an additional race making the weigh-in process tomorrow morning a little more tricky. It's my first time going through the reps. But nothing on this comeback is easy and yet everything that comes in our way makes us stronger.

Friday evening:
Tonight we raced the reps at 6:25 instead of 6:24. The delay was caused by us. And it was a comedy of error that luckily had a happy ending. With 5 minutes before our start, waiting for them to call us into our lanes, I noticed my port oarlock making more noise and my pink oarshaft was moving around alot. Oh no, the white elastic holding my oar in place had come in place. Calmly, but desperately I'm trying to slip the loop over the hook. I'm crushing my fingertip and I'm hearing the announcement for our heat. The white elastic falls into the water. I see it sinking and I grab. Got it. Ok I can't do this on my own and we row to the umpire boat. Abby calls out we have a technical issue please notify the start. The umpire is with spanner trying to slip the elastic. Then he opens the gate and it brings the hook closes and I slip in on. Thank God! Abby and I motor to the start, 'USA lane 3'. We connect with the stake holder and barely line up when the country countdown begins. I look at the lights and confused the red line is not on. What the? Then I see the umpire above in the start tower with flag over head. I hear his voice: Go! I jumped. But something is missing. My seat is between my legs! Oh no Abby I cry out. Crashing blades, Abby patiently instructs me: get back on your seat. I grab it, put it under my butt, and pound ferociously down the course. Abby says, we are back in the pack. But I can still see boats around me, and I'm not settling. I'm going. On the 1000m I'm starting to see boats away from me. Inches. France is starting to move. Abby is determined they will not gain on us. I'm finding power and rhythm in the head. We come into the last 500m holding. We won the rep. A rainbow bowed above us from the rain we warmed up in. Rowing from the rain to the sun Abby said.

Saturday Semi:
Leading for the first 1000m, we were off to a good start. Then the third 500m, the boats picked up speed and we stayed at the same pace. We put our energy into legs, power, but still the boats came and unfortunately, we placed 4th. That pushed us into the B-Final.

Our B-final we met our friends from the Netherlands, and the Kiwi's. We raced a better rhythm, but our start out us in third and third we held all the way down the course. A result that was bitter-sweet and many lessons to go from. However, team-mates Julie and Kristin made history by placing 3rd in Luzern thus holding the highest points in the World Cups. The USA Lightweights have some great momentum going!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bicycle and Boat

There are only two ways to experience Holland: By Boat or by Bike.

Training in a rowing shell most days, I'm confined to a 2km course of the Bosbaan, so not much tourism there. But on the Amstel River the channels allow the pleasure boats, powered by petrol, to come out when the sun shine. Its a traffic jam like typical highway at rush -hour and near-mere crashes. We got the experience this on Fran's power-boat and cruised the channels while eating grilled chicken breasts cut in squares for easy finger bites. Potato salad made with a tahini-dill mayo (no actual dairy used) and large grilled veggies like broccoli and zucchini with garlic.

Or early mornings allow rowers in their singles to wonder the Amstel. I ran along the river while Frans rowed. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of single scullers out there. It had the feel of Seattle, where many row for it power, grace and beauty.

The other way is by bike. The bikes litter the streets like plastic bags. Buckled or bent, wrapped or locked around fences, bike stands, they come at me like people with distinctive personalities. They come at me when I'm driving too, so better to bike than drive. More Amsterdam bike portraits >

I remember a college mate, Nic Grobler, who did a bicycle portrait project for South Africa raising money for the underprivileged. Really nice photos and videos of his work can be seen here > www.bicycleportraits.co.za

Tshirts designed through JL

Walking in the crowd at the Holand Beker, I saw a familar t-shirt! The grey JL swirl Seattle skyline print. The man said he bought it in Denmark and enjoyed it, since he had visited Seattle before. He was delighted when I told him, I was the designer for this shirt and through the partnership with JL allowing me the canvas of a tshirt, I get to see my print worn. Look out for for designs and tshirts as well as the more pattern-black/white prints known as the shwe-shwe line originating from my South African heritage. More Pictures on the JL Gallery.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BMW High Performance Team - PLEASE VOTE

What a great opportunity I received when a representative form the BMW who is an official US Olympic Committee sponsor called and asked if I would consider being part of this voting for one last spot on their high performance team. In rowing, as an amateur sport, this is great publicity and I hope, moving the sport into a highlight for sporting events. The filming of the regattas is really making it nicer to watch with great close-ups of the rowers over the long 2km course.

Here is the link to follow on casting your vote:
Its between me, and cyclist and a wrestler.

BMW Performance Team: Ursula Grobler

Please vote for me : here

The outcome of 2 days at the Holland Beker

In two days Abby and I were put to the test with the best. It was to our luck in nature that the e-coli breakout in Europe caused top crews to seek an alternative regatta to the second world cup in Hamburg, Germany. Great Britain, The Netherlands, Canada, and USA-2 (racing as LUC "Lake Union Crew") met on the Bosbaan in Holland in the W2x -Yes we all went 'heavy'!
Day one, Saturday June 25th > the weather was 'Seattle' at its best. Rainy, grey, cold, damp to the bones kinda thing. Abby and I took on the heat with angst. One lane next to us paced Canada (the World Champ winners) and on the other side, GB (multiple World Cup winners).

First time racing in the new line-up of Abby in stroke position, set us off the line with too much excitement. Almost, a false start by us as the red was like a green. We were ready to go! Quick adjustment to actually wait for the green, hold blades and off we went. The rhythm of Abby was energetic and sent us down the course building every 500m. We finished just behind GB, and Canada behind us. In four hours we would meet again for the Saturday final.

That afternoon, we lined up again, and added from other heats was The Netherlands crew and the Danish true openweight 2x. The rest of us were all LW2x crews. This time we were ready for the green and got off to a better start. Through the race our pace, expectations, speed was amiss. And GB, Canada and the Netherlands finished ahead. Home with a fourth in the final meant we might lose our housing with Frans Göbel, who is known as a racer to win!

We awoke to Sunday where we were scheduled for three races in 2 hour gaps. The schedule updated and we had a heat, top 2 direct to final. We lined up with mostly Dutch club crews and this Denmark openweight 2x. This 2x and me already met in the warmup area where the chaos of when to go and what lane to be in, did not match, resulting in stink eye from the blond bow girl. In the warmup you need to stop when crews are racing, and you have one lane up, and two lanes down, but one of the lanes down you need to not use, unless you are clearing a crew, or doing a piece (I thought).

So here we sit waiting for the green, Denmark to the right of us, and the Dutch crews all to the left. This Denmark crew was ready to kill us. They took us on the first 500m, by a lot. We knew they would. They did it all yesterday. So now we get to work, and take on the rest of the 5min of the race. 'Moving', I yelled. 'Moving' again, and into the last 500m we had them just on bow ball. But they took first and split seconds later LUC.

Abby and I went to recover and restructure and reframe what we wanted. In four hours, at the final, we made it clear that we are on our way to making our comeback. We had the fastest first, second and third 500m, over GB, Canada and the Netherlands. It came down to that last 500m, and GB pushed through us in 250m. We took a silver in the Sunday finals. Full Results here >

On a side note, there were a lot of South African juniors racing. It was great to hear the SA accents and talk to the development coaches. There was even a girl from my highschool there! Go Willowridge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making a difference

Following on Nell's blog post,


Pizza... And Cookies? Seriously?

I don't believe it.  As if frozen pizza or toll house cookies weren't awful enough on their own, now they're available in the very same box, so you can defrost/ reheat both at the same time and enjoy together.
It's as though consumers are just throwing their hands up in the air and showing how little they care about their bodies, shrugging their shoulders and shoveling in thousands of calories of pure, 100 % NON FOOD.
How on earth can anyone, aside from Nestle, who is sure to make a killing (both literally and figuratively) on this think this is remotely a good idea!
We've GOT to work collectively to teach EVERYONE all about PALEO!!  Start with yourself and lead by example- PLEASE! "
I commented with this:

We have a little spirit in us that asks us to donate to charities, causes, be more aware of the environment etc.. In times when we do, we feel amazingly good about ourselves and even a sense of peace. So have you considered that when you buy food, you actually either do just that. You either donate or destroy. The book by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable Miracle describes this concept well. But briefly, if you pay a little more for the organic, if you do a little extra effort for the local-farm produce you are making a huge difference by showing your purchasing power and you are on track to paleo living. Can you imagine if we all stopped buying these pizza/cookie mixes. These processing, packaging-focussed companies would be forced to make a change. They are only selling to market demand. So by not showing interest in these things we can make a change. I don't have have financial resources to donate to the charities I would love to support, but I have to buy food. So when I do, I consider that I'm combining these two things. And I'm telling these big corporations who just don't give a damn about what preservatives and toxins they use in the food, or how addictive the outcome can be, leading to obesity (which then can be another profit market for more pills or programs) that I'm not ok with that.

There was a person walking on a beach who came across all these starfishes that had been washed up on the shore. There was another person picking the starfish up, and tossing them back in the ocean. This walker said, there are so many here, you are wasting your time. You can't make a difference here. This other person picked up another starfish, tossed it in, and said, to this one, it makes a difference.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Staying Paleo while eating out

Last night, we went to this awesome restaurant, called Cicchetti on Eastlake, Seattle. At first it would appear really small by the standards of a restaurant, but I loved it, feeling like a guest in someone's house. It was so social, and I didn't feel like I was being served. But rather as if I was part of a process, of tasting and sharing. The seating allowed us to sit at the bar right in front of the chefs and we watched them cook, and chat. A feeling of collaboration. Like they had something to show us, and share their talents with us. Each dish was unique and nothing felt mass-produced. Each plate they adjusted and talked about, 'add a little paprika' I heard the one chef say to the other. The freedom to asses each plate with individual touch was refreshing. Like a showcase piece and we as the audience were the enjoyers and the tasters. I felt our reactions were part and parcel to the feedback the chefs were looking for. A very interactive process.
But on top of this integral eating experience, it was super easy to stay on top of paleo choices at this restaurant. The starters were perfectly without grains, legumes or dairy. Almonds, raisins and dates, or beets and fennel and olives in red peppers. Salmon on butternut pieces... and the portion sizes were perfect. Dessert was even coconut ice-cream. We walked out with a dining experience while continuing on our paleo lifestyle. Setting us up for good sleep which will follow with good training in the morning.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Rowing World - a Teenage Obsession

  As we were putting the double on the racks after morning training, I thought about my life as is, with training being my job. But its even more than that; its my obsession. In a way like a teenage stage, when everything depends on one focus. Whether that's the latest song, love or breakup. Nothing else matters. At the exclusion of everything else (mostly parents words). And your young lived-life depends on it. That's how I can get about rowing. And every stroke, of every practise.
  Then my age, and hopefully with it, some maturity,  I take a deep breathe and remember that everyday, in every way, goes a long way. Scott Gault said once he could see who were the athletes who have been around for a while. They are not roller-coasters, but more steady. A certain confidence, that even when they have a bad piece, they know they are still good, and one bad piece does not a shitty rower make.

But in this sport, where we are all so passionate, we get wrapped up in every detail. A fine balance between. Therein the magic.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

FYI - I was misquoted

Image from Miranda July
I have been so misinterpreted and misquoted that it seems comical to me at this point. But it does hurt, because I do aspire to be a role model. I ask if I could please see the written before these articles publish, and they won't. Then I'm left with being ostracized with criticism for someone's interpretation of what I said. The one writer said my father died, when it was my mother. That's how it got published. That's how bad misquoting gets!

So I'm said to have arrogance and no humility because that's how writers are portraying the story. I ask did you listen to me in the interview with Sean Wolf on Rowing Illustrated? That was me, and that was my reply to the 3 medal challenge and my voice on my intentions with raising rowing awareness in the US for all the athletes, and trying to get the Lightweight girls a place to come together and train. And leave a base where future lightweight girls can go to and aspire to.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rolling Illustrated Radio Interview

Change your practice times

Tonight on Rowing Illustrated's "Hour of Power" Ursula Grobler, the most talked about woman in US Rowing in 2010, learn about her last year, her plans for going forward , her World Record on the erg, her diet, the future of lightweight women's rowing, her olympic dream and more. Wolf and Ursula have a candid conversation that you don't want to miss.

Site is www.FTNS.co. (No m). Also an app for it.

This Friday at 7 pm eastern standard time

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today's press release on USRowing

Rough water out there. I think Mercer wants to show off to Karapiro. So maybe Dawney won't need to. My bow number 64 came bouncing down the trial time as did everyone else. As Kalmoe said, it's going to be good racing out.

If looking for my event: W1x

Monday, April 18, 2011

NSR 1 2011

NSR 1 is upon us and I'll be racing in the open single (W1X). The entries and results will be posted on this site called Regatta Central: Regatta Central

Follow results and more details here : USRowing

This is the first step to make the USA National Team. I remember when I came to Elite Nationals the summer of 2008, the first time I raced on Mercer; I was so excited that one day when I got my citizenship that I could row here to compete to make the US Team. I still have that chill of excitement.

Rowing Illustrated Boards will have a post race interview.

My USRowing Bio

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Photographed by Mike Powell for Outside Magazine

Outside Magazine called and asked for an interview. I was totally shocked and delighted. But the interview was only the start. When I was told there would be a photographer sent out, I was blown away. I had the honour of being portrayed by Mike Powell. His work with athletes is phenomenal and if you look at his site, you will see what I mean : Mike Powell Photo.

The article should come out in June, so have a look for the issue. This is fantastic to get rowing more into the public eye. There will be some interesting comments from my triathlon background to rowing.

The staff of the OKC Boathouse Foundation also need special mention. Thank you so much to Sherry Andrusiak for taking care of the public relations aspects. The whole day was really fantastic experience as a sports person in an amateur sport.

WOW, is all that is left to say!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Moving to OKC

Once again the black Audi took a drive. Just in early February it went 20 hours from Seattle to San Diego. Now the Audi took 20 hours (more or less) bound for Oklahoma City; and hoping this is where it would settle.

Passing on Route 66, it was fun to engage in the American culture that I had seen on TV. 

With the help of Greg Williams, the drive went quickly, and I even got to introduce him to Country Ham at Cracker Barrel. A Kentucky tradition I have come to cherish from the Steers/James family. Yes believe it, even Cracker Barrel can be Paleo with ordering eggs and country ham. The cured-ham has loads of salt, so not the bestest lean mean source. Just ask for no toast and hold the hash-browns. Then go get a salad somewhere else to get your greens in!

Once in OKC, I settled into the apartments called The Lincoln. Very nice modern town homes. A truly empty space that begged to be filled. An empty canvas that sent me running around to Target and Gordmans (a great cheap, fun furniture store) and then online to Anthropologie and Sierra Trading Post. My essentials started with a cast iron pan. I didn't even have plates or forks. I got paper plates and plastic spoons to start with. And sat on the floor in an empty living room. Then Lee came to town and helped me with a little more furniture. Table and Chairs. What a luxury. Thanks Lee!

The Lincoln only held me for a little while before I moved to another apartment complex called Isolda Belle. The pool is what it's was all about. A little further out from training, but the quaint 70's-built place has a charm of its own.

Next on my exploring of OKC was grocery shopping. I would go from practice to exploring where to buy food, to practice to where to buy food. My google maps was on overload. Unlike anywhere I have lived, grocery stores seem to be on the back burner in this city. And Walmart does not count as an option! However little diamonds on the dust cloud emerged like the OSU-OKC Farmer's Market on Saturdays. The buffalo meat there, perfect and the free ranging, all natural whole chickens simply awesome! The guy who sells the eggs is a treat to meet. And the mushroom guy fascinated me with what was inside the cooler. The variety of bags with dark green leafy things (kale) was just fabulous and made me smile.

Then I found some other fun grocery stores called Akins, Health Food Center and this crazy carpeted store called Crescent Market. All great, but definitely break the bank kinda-places. There is a Whole Foods on its way. Good but still Whole Paycheck right?! A Trader Joes in OKC would be the bomb! In the meantime, waiting for the spring to bring on more farmer's markets that will help sustain. Then just last week, I was introduced to Super Cao Nguyen Chinese Market. I saw kinds of yams that I had never seen. Coconut Yam! So amazing the exploring of food and its cultures! Yet it is researched that most American's spend the least amount on food and would rather buy cheap food than fashion. A website launched called This City is going on a Diet highlights that change is needed and recognized in OKC. (yay)

Restaurants in OKC have also come to surprise me. Most noticeable the 105degrees that not only serves the most interesting juices, but offers culinary classes that I'm dying to take. It's vegetarian meaning nothing is cooked above 105 degrees. I assume that's Fahrenheit. Then the Melting Pot, a beloved place in lower Queen Anne, Seattle also resides in the bricktown area of downtown OKC. There is a Keisers that serves buffalo burgers. (to make this Paleo just take out the bun, ask for a big lettuce leaf!)

As the days passed so to did the finish tower progress. The comforts of the Devon Boathouse now more known, and the staff faces now known to name. The routine settled. The wind comes and goes. The testing tornado siren moans on Saturday afternoons. And this is how life at OKC passes. Check out the official website:

Monday, February 7, 2011


Frans Göbel was awarded as the King, and then since he kept on winning, he was crowed the Emperor of the Amstel! This race takes place in Amsterdam, on April 3, 2011. If you are looking for a head race this would be a great one! Check out the site, and email skiffhead@gmail.com if you have any questions. I loved my time in Amsterdam when I raced the Kings Cup. So Amsterdam and the rowing scene comes highly recommended!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thank you JL-gear Buyers!

Thank you for buying this crazy-cool beautiful JL gear.
I know it meant a lot to you to be able to support me. We will create some more designs and open up the team store again. Be sure to write in the comments feedback, what you liked and didn't, want more of or less.

I appreciate it !

I hope you feel fast when wearing the shwe-shwe stuff.
I hope you feel special and comfortable. Cause that was my intention to give back to you!

‘Baie Dankie’
(Thank you in Afrikaans)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Launch of new training gear with JL Racing

When I first met with Joline and Ken from JL Racing, it was Spring of 2009. I remember from our first meeting, Joline said we want you to design some of your own garments. Being a designer, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Joline kept talking about this blank canvas, which did intimidate me a little in the beginning. Especially because this is clothing, fabrics, 3D stuff, where my realm is 2D, web page graphics, business cards, logos, brochures. I started with some simple stuff, doing the standard custom template tools that they offer on their site. That was the beginning of learning how things come together. It also started teaching me about the fabrics, how it stretches and moves, and then when you use certain fonts, how they display from far, and how far should you wrap around the back before your arms start cutting of the design. It seems simple, but their is a definite visual area that we see on our clothes, and where to place key elements of the design. As the year went on, I got to put together a few items, each one showing a period I was facing. At the end of the 2010, Joline encouraged me once again, to really design something unique. I had an idea from a silkscreen I created a while back. And with the introduction of a new fabric from JL called Thermoroubaix, the black and white gear emerged. Now a name for this gear?! In July I went to visit my family in South Africa and there was talk of 'shweshwe'. It was a term used my the indigenous Xhosa people for the sound of the long skirts made by the women who came from Europe. The term is now applied to unique African-looking patterns, and so I thought this was rather fitting.

I got the opportunity to talk about the gear, and my racing in New Zealand and Paleo nutrition arranged at the Seattle JL Team Store. And now the gear is available on line, and you are order it from this link!
Ursula JL Team Store
 JL Newsletter

What a way to end and enter 2010-2011!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Looking at Frida

I went up to Frida in Banyoles at the World Cup I, 2009, and said the typical fan statement, "I love your rowing." I continue to watch videos of her as I'm learning in the single, saying I hope to row as well as she does one day. Frida's win in Eton, and then again in New Zealand shows her strength and tenacity. Here is a video of her and to hear her speak her native language is kinda special, because she speaks english so well. (And never mind watching her take those good strokes, even in the windy conditions!)

Video of Frida

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Travelling Long Distance on a plane - tips to get through

 1. Pack your own food.

I have a little blue cooler that I take on as my second hand luggage option. Make sure there are no liquids in anything, even a salad that has a dressing to avoid TSA suspicion. I pack baggies of carrots, celery, cucumber, asparagus, deli meats (look for no-nitrates), apples, nuts, dried fruits. I cook some yam slices, and make kale salad. I take egg whites and a little olive oil mix, and even enjoy a whole green pepper and eating it as is. Pack a little dark chocolate too. Nice to have some treats also. Also make a little pesto or dipping sauce for your veggies. It will make eating them more enjoyable. I once packed baby food and applesauce. That's fine too, but make sure its the small containers.

Having your own food to eat on your schedule is so helpful. And having fresh veggie snacks makes that when you do start eating out of boredom, that its good eating options. At layovers, its so nice to have your own food, then you are not left at the mercy of the airport foodcourt, which is both too expensive and far from fresh.

I once had a TSA person tell me I can't take this food through. I told her I'm allergic to a specific preservative and need to take my own food in else I will starve and die! Ok, dramatic, but it worked. When In your final destination, They might make you discard the food before going through customs. But still you want to be sure to pack enough food.

2. Pack an empty water bottle. Once through security, go fill it, and make it a goal to keep drinking water. When on the plane, don't be shy to ask the attendants to fill your water bottle instead of just a little glass.

3. Request a special meal : Gluten-free meal. Anything helps. But try to skip the rice and rice cakes. You should be ok with having your food, and not feeling so ravenous to eat everything on that tray.

4. Keep taking your vitamins and fish oils. Keeping to your schedule as much as possible helps to get the recovering going again as soon as possible.

5. Take Melatonin. Helping your body to sleep is so helpful. If I could only but sleep through the whole ordeal that would be great. However a little sleeping aid is useful.
6. Move on the plane.

I find a space, at the back of the plane or in the isles, and I will do 50 Air Squats, or lean against the sides and do a push-up. But Mostly, just stretch.

7. Have a pair of your own headsets. The plane's headsets are always awful and you can't hear a thing. There are nice movies on board and you wanna be able to hear the conversation!

Christmas in South Africa

A wonderful gift from the Smith family suddenly put me on a plane to South Africa over the Christmas period. I have not had a sunny Christmas since I left SA in 2003. A very long flight, but now direct from Atlanta to Johannesburg (~15 hours) after another 4 hour from Seattle to Atlanta, and I was seeing stars. But I followed some of my routines when flying, that I will share with you on the next post and it helped me not be completely useless. 

This was the first time my parents did not help me buy the ticket, so I decided not to tell them I was coming and make it be a surprise. I was re-introduced to my dad with a miley-cirus wig on and big glasses as cousin Gary's new aupair just in from America! You can see he was bowled over with this arrival who looked strangely like this daughter!

From there time was spent running around the golf course while dad played. He finished the 18th with a beautiful birdie claiming 'tiger woods would buy that putt off me'. Then I stepped outside my comfort area and went mountain biking at the Cradle of Humankind. But didn't want to repeat the Alan Campbell saga where he started 2010 in SA with a mountain bike injury sending him to hospital! The following day I went mountain biking in and around Rivonia. I was happy to end the ride on road, going uphill. Delon and Jon close on my heals! Hills are my friend!

I had some fun doing circuits in and around the house, finding tree branches as pull-up bars, outside benches as jumping boxes etc. I hope to compile a video soon of the sports. Will post on my youtube channel.

I also got to introduce the paleo cooking to the Smith family. I left Nell Stephenson's Paleo Cookbook behind as a gift and changes are happening. Uncle Robert already has gone through the kitchen declaring 'most things in here are inedible!'

Christmas day was perfectly as I remember. Mom made a fantastic trifle. A little sherry soaked finger biscuits, red and green jello, custard, nuts and cream. Boxing day was also insuit of tradition, spending the day on the day, doing watersports. Not including rowing, unless floatation devices went array, but on the snake and the wakeboard making its appearance.

Little time left now, so sunny days were spent running around the LC Divillars sports grounds, at the University of Pretoria, and I got to train in the new HPC Center (High Performance Center). Guess what it had: 2 of the Aussie made Indoor Sculler. Not quite as smart as the RP3. But it got me through a good piece. All of the SA rowing team seemed to be out of town so never got my fingers went with a boat on a dam and the team.

Coffee with friends and my dear athletics coach, Mrs. Erasmus was also good time. Drove the street of Lawly looking at Christmas lights. Went to the Rhino and Lion park seeing the animals dear to the South African landscape. And there was a wonderful wedding in this whole trip too! Congradulations to Nikki and Grant!

Back in Lake Stevens, WA and the wonderful 28 deg Celsius has dropped to -7 deg Celsius. Rowing in this cold made me grumpy in the beginning. Now I'm adjusting, fast. Time to get going!
More photos on Flickr