When I emailed the Green Mountain Head regatta about covering the racing, I received a response from Graeme King - the boatbuilder and rowing personality, as well as, as it turns out, the general "macher" of the Green Mountain Head.
Graeme thanked me for coming to the regatta and offered his help, closing with a PS: "This is my 30th year working on the GMH and will be going out to pastures after this regatta."
30 years is the better part of the GMH's modern history (the full version, on the GMH website, is an entertaining read), and in a lot of ways, King's involvement in the regatta could be considered a natural extension of his rowing personality.
The Green Mountain Head is about as pure as regattas come; the race is three miles on the Connecticut river in Putney, Vermont, with a stake turn halfway. The regatta features open and masters singles and doubles only, with Olympians and little kids (future Olympians, maybe?) rubbing shoulders easily amongst the fall country scene, and wears its Vermont location on its sleeve. "It's a different feeling and a lifestyle," said King. "It's relaxing, and enjoying the environment, really."
The awards are what you'd expect from Vermont as well: jugs of maple syrup for the winners, with apples and apple cider for the 2nd and 3rd runners up.
Graeme King, in charge.
Given that Putney is also the longtime home of King's boat building shop, the locals are appropriately chauvinistic about the kinds of boats they like: "For those rowers who do not share the good fortune of rowing a wooden boat, plastic shells are acceptable," reads the GMH web page.
Over 350 singles and doubles (wooden as well as plastic) took to the river for the 2015 edition, which started with a slight delay for fog in the morning - (70-degree water and 42 degree air temps will do that).
Winners this year included 2015 USA W1x rower Gevvie Stone in the Open Women's 1x (it's the only fall race outside of the HOCR Stone races) and national teamer John Graves of Craftsbury in the Men's 1x. If you are a Masters sculler, there could be worse ways to gauge your Head of the Charles competition than the Green Mountain Head, as these events were characteristically fast and deep.
After the racing (and the competitors' lunch of egg rolls, cider doughnuts and Vermont cheddar cheese), Graeme King handed out awards to happy competitors, perhaps for the last time. As he called them up for their bounty, King kept it low-key and friendly, recognizing repeat winners and attendees with a quip or an easy joke; after 30 years, competitors are definitely friends too.
"People enjoying themselves," said King, when asked what his fondest memories of the regatta would be after stepping away. "Giving the people and the rowing community another type of regatta where there isn't that pressure so that they can enjoy themselves, but at the same time have excellent competition and have fun doing it. It's an excellent crowd of people, mostly; sometimes you have to direct them a little bit, but it's OK.
"I'll probably be a consultant on this regatta now," said King, characteristically deadpan, his Australian accent softened a bit by the years in Vermont. "A high-priced consultant; $10 a year or something."