It’s become pretty well known by now that you can always find the Station Maine kids where the work’s being done. Look for the boat that needs bailed, the trash that needs emptied, the gear that needs carried. There’s Station Maine’s crew, hands out of their pockets, on deck, doing what needs to be done. I noticed it particularly when, just as breakfast was served, one of the coaches cried “can I have some help moving the boat.” It was the Station Maine crew who instantly left their breakfast to help. That’s just how it is.
We are not alone. It was Saquish, our competition, who loan us a rower when we were one short. It was Rhode Island, our competition, who gave us design details on our transition to tholl pins. There is a standard recognition among the coaches of Open Water Rowing that we’re all in this together.
But the true colors of Open Water Rowing are flown by the kids themselves. This year a bad start found Station Maine’s Racing Seals in last place in a three gig heat. A passing motor boat set them even further behind when his uncontrolled wake pounded the bow and sent the boat dancing. I agonized on shore watching my crew pulling their hearts out from further and further behind, while the competition sailed over the finish line.
A race isn’t over til everyone crosses the line. Suddenly from the end of the dock came the chant “Sta-tion-Maine, Sta-tion Maine” over and over, louder and louder. The young crew from New York Harbor saw Station Maine’s plight and knew what to do. The chant continued. The crowd picked it up. “Sta-tion Maine! Sta-tion Maine!” rhythmic and solid, cheering on the one remaining crew in the racecourse, giving them heart to finish the race.
It is human nature to compete, to race, to want to test ourselves against others. There is a higher nature that encourages us to encourage others. The young people drawn to the growing sport of Open Water Rowing want challenge and excitement. Of course they want to win. But even more, they want to make it all work for all of us. This is the generation that will inherit the world. How can we help but have faith in them?