The NCAAs were not the only event to make a return to the rowing calendar this past weekend: the Florida sun (and then storms) also witnessed the return-from-COVID-hiatus of one of the great showcases of Hack talent and, well, characters: The Definitely Not Sanctioned or In Any Actual Way Affiliated and Otherwise Surely NOT N*AA Rigger's National Croquet Tournament. In other words, the battle royale for that most coveted of prizes: The Wakamole Trophy.
We've brought you news before of this shadowy group of mole wackers and this odd but beloved occurrence that does--or does not (wink, wink)--take place at a certain late May Championship each year--one that is, as one wag put it, "at the event, but not of it, as it were" and known only to those few who labor amongst the epoxy fumes all year long for the chance to stick around when the boatyard of this particular major championship empties out for lunch. Eschewing the team meal and bus ride to same, these lone rangers of the rigging world hang back and hang out for an activity that is, as they say, "Not Collegiate, Academic, or Athletic" in any way, trademark-able or otherwise, and set about playing some croquet of questionable quality, all with custom-made Wakamole Implements that are a Rowing Hack art form.
Our original article has some great links to a gallery from one recent contest and some of the cooler tools in play that year, but by way of redux, we feature here the Concept-2'd goodness of a rigger who himself took his final spin around the croquet ground this year, hoping to set himself up for retirement--if only on bragging rights alone--with a final go for the Wakamole prize: Chris Allsopp, the long-time coach at Wayne State, UNH, South Kent School and, for the last 23 years so, coach, mentor, and boatman at Navy.
When the Midshipmen of Navy started qualifying for NCAAs, there was much to do in terms of affixing properly-sized name stickers to boats, etc, but Allsopp still found time to craft this masterpiece of reused oar parts and made sure to pack it along for the trip.
Ever the student of rowing history, Allsopp made sure to include part of an actual wood handle to serve as the business end, while still being sure to incorporate the latest advances in plastics with the collar which serves as the handle...and there is little doubt that he carefully selected a conveniently broken "skinny" shaft with the perfect amount of flex.
At the time, Allsopp's creation found favor with the now-departed and dearly-missed "Commish" of this august group of hackers and 'wackers, the late Mark Schofer of Brown. This year's Tourney, when it convened this past weekend near--but most definitely not "at"--the Sarasota race course, was the second since Schofer's passing in 2018, but the event he turned into the most prestigious croquet trophy in all of rowing persists, and it always takes a well-hacked mallet to win the day.
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