By Wednesday, the fourth day of camp, I could make it all the way across Hosmer and back in one session, and I had gained enough confidence so that while concentrating on keeping my arms straight as I pulled, relaxing my shoulders and leading the drive with my legs, I could also do some looking around. Hosmer is a quiet lake, and birds are always alighting on it from the fir, maple and cedar trees on the shores, as are children, who swing into the water from ropes attached to tree limbs. Sculling, it seemed to me, is an ideal sport for daydreamers.
While we rowed each day, Jamie would course up and down the lake in a small motorboat, pausing beside each of us to comment on our strokes. On Thursday afternoon he lined up Alec, Irish John, Jannik and me at the far end of the lake for "some pieces." We rowed 10 strokes as fast as we could and then glided; then it was 20 strokes and a rest, then all-out for a minute, and so on. Hosmer looked like a glimmerglass that afternoon, and by dusk I had rowed on it for 15 miles. I wasn't the only one catching on. Jamie videotaped us that day from his launch, and that night, as we watched ourselves, it was clear that Craftsbury knew what it was doing.
At seven on Friday morning we all rowed two miles to the end of the lake, turned our boats and, in a staggered start, set off in the reverse of Jamie's predicted order of finish. Hosmer was calm and clear, and I started fifth, just before Jannik, Alec and Irish John, who had been warming up on the water since six and who was now cheerfully informing us that we all "rowed like buffaloes." Jamie started Jannik several hundred yards behind me, and for that first mile he stayed there. Then I caught my first crab. It is difficult to row like crazy with a form as rough as mine, but the sight of Jannik, John and Alec closing in on me was good incentive. Unfortunately, my steering had me progressing at wildly oblique angles, and the crabs weren't cooperating either. Twice more my oars caught in the water, and my boat seized up. Irish John flew past, and so did Alec. Jannik nearly overtook me as well, but, unaccountably, he stopped 10 yards from the finish line, thinking that he had already reached it. That was poor luck for him, but not quite as bad as New Mexico John's experience; he capsized five strokes from the end.
After breakfast there was an awards ceremony for which we each placed a mystery gift on a table to serve as a prize. I had finished the two miles in 15:18, good enough for fourth, behind Jannik, who resumed rowing once he realized his mistake, Alec and Irish John, who had churned through in 13:03 and now received a large can of Vermont maple syrup from Jamie as the regatta winner, in addition to his mystery gift, a Tintin T-shirt that Alec had brought from Portugal. As for me, I came away with a Concept II T-shirt—not a bad token by which to remember the most enjoyable week of my summer.
Craftsbury Sculling Camps run from late May through early October. Telephone 802-586-7767 or 800-729-7751.