row2k Features
In Memoriam
A Tribute to Rainer Empacher
October 25, 2018
Ed Moran, row2k

Rainer Empacher (center), flanked by the US's Ellen Tomek and Megan Kalmoe (photo courtesy Megan Kalmoe)

Following the announcement of the death of Rainer Empacher, 58, of the German boatbuilding company whose yellow boats have become a dominate fixture in rowing everywhere, members of the world rowing community have reacted with expressions of gratitude for his work, friendship and contributions to the sport.

Empacher's death was announced Monday by the family and his funeral is scheduled for tomorrow.

Notice from the Empacher family

Fred Honebein, North American rep for Empacher, remembered Rainer both as a colleague and friend.

"Learning of Rainer's passing is disappointing on a lot of levels," Honebein said this morning. "I shall miss our monthly conversations that not only dealt with business related items, but evolved to include his fascination, perspective and interest in global politics. Rainer was well read and knowledgeable in current events, but he always was curious to learn more from an American perspective. What started as a business relationship with Rainer evolved into a friendship that I will miss."

In the two days following his death, the German Rowing Association, several national rowing federations, and top international elite athletes, have posted messages of thanks and sympathy on their personal Twitter and Facebook accountants, or official internet sites.

This message was posted by the German Rowing Association: "With sadness we must take note that our longtime partner Rainer Empacher of Bootswerft Empacher died on October 22, 2018 at the age of 58 years.

"We thank him for everything he has done for rowing in Germany. The family-owned company Empacher has been supporting the rowing national team as a boat outfitter for several decades. Our thoughts are with his family."

The Italian Rowing association, through president Giuseppe Abbagnale, also expressed their condolences.

And on the official British Rowing web site, this tribute was posted Thursday morning, and included comments from both Chief Coach, Jurgen Grobler, and former GB Performance Director Sir David Tanner.

"Rainer, and the wider Empacher family, have served British Rowing very well over the past two decades," said Grobler in the posting. "He was a good partner to us, refreshing in his approach to understanding new concepts and finding practical solutions. He will be missed around the boat park."

Added Tanner:

"Rainer has been a wonderful friend and support for the GB Rowing Team for so many years - a friendly face at every international event, an expert help when equipment needed fixing and always a provider of a good coffee to a needy PD or coach! And with his brother Helmut, Rainer has been the constructor and producer of bespoke Empacher racing boats of top quality for the Team, without question 'helping to make the boats go faster.' He'll be remembered warmly and sorely missed in GB and across World Rowing."

Rainer not only worked in the boatshop and boatyards for years, but was also the official Empacher photographer and was a regular at the starting line, where row2k folks got to know him well; he will be missed.

Present and former international rowers joined in an outpouring of tributes to Empacher online and on social media.

View this post on Instagram

Very sorry to hear about the passing of Rainer Empacher. . I met Rainer on my first Senior team trip - World Cups 1 and 2 in 2008. Ellen and I were attempting to qualify for the 08 Olympic Team in the W2X and everything was moving at a million miles per hour. I will never forget meeting Rainer and his genuine happiness to meet and chat with us about racing and how we liked the beautiful brand new Empacher we were in. It didn't matter that we were total rookies with absolutely no international pedigree, he was just happy that we were happy. He was not even that mad that we brought our boat to Lucerne with multiple holes in it from some bad luck on a dock in Munich and a Malibu rum bottle floating in the Rhein in Breisach. . We ended up achieving our goal in Lucerne that summer and being the first athletes to be named to the 2008 Olympic rowing roster, thanks in large part to Rainer and that boat. Ever since then I always made a point to stop and give him a hug when we traveled and raced internationally, as every regatta I've been in I've raced one of his boats. . I will miss him very much. Thank you for your support, my friend. Rest In Peace. ???????

A post shared by Megan Kalmoe (@megankalmoe) on


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