row2k Features
Hobart's Ryan Mulflur
March 13, 2024
Erik Dresser,

Hobart's Ryan Mulflur rowing with Aidan Vanek

Next up in our preview of the 2024 spring collegiate season is an interview with Hobart senior Ryan Mulflur. We chat with Mulflur on overcoming fear, prepping to row across the Atlantic, and more.

row2k - How did you get your start in rowing?

Ryan Mulflur - I started rowing as a way to deal with fear. When I was 8 years old, I was an avid sailor until my class and I were caught in a microburst storm, with a wind so powerful that it was bending flagpoles as if they were plastic straws. We were in these little one-person sailboats designed for children, Opti’s, which are nearly as big as a bathtub. Most of the boats around me had capsized while I held tight to the vessel that was in a perpetual nosedive and determined to become a submersible. The teenage instructors rescued us from their launch boats and luckily no one was hurt. This has been the only time in my life that I felt genuine fear that my life could end. I still remember the adrenaline surging through my body after I had been rescued to the dock.

After a couple of years of avoiding the water, my parents encouraged me to join a recreational learn-to-row club that a couple of my friends were doing. It wasn’t long before my fear of being on the water was replaced with a love for this new sport. I joined my first competitive rowing team after getting cut from the high school soccer team, intending to get into better shape to make the soccer team next year. The camaraderie that I found on the Hingham High School crew team was unlike any team I had been on prior, and I never looked back from there. In the summer going into my senior year, I started finding success in the sport while rowing at Riverside Boat Club in Boston. After that, I knew I wanted to continue rowing after high school.

row2k - How did you decide to attend Hobart?

Ryan Mulflur - As a rower who is under 6’, I figured that my best shot in college rowing would be the lightweight teams. I heard about Hobart from Austin Letorney, a high school coach who had recently graduated from and rowed there. He encouraged me to give the school a look and believed that I could have success there. My initial skepticism of joining a heavyweight team as a lightweight would become my biggest motivator. The challenge was exciting in that it would force me to reach a potential I didn’t believe I had. When it came time to make the decision, my intuition told me that I belonged at Hobart.

row2k - You’re putting together a team of former Hobart rowers to race across the Atlantic in 2025, how did that come about?

Ryan Mulflur - I met my Atlantic teammates during my first year at Hobart, they were the upperclassmen and leaders of the team at the time. Anthony Carella and Mo Marchart were in their third year, and David Ranney was in his last. I immediately admired how they would pour most of their time outside of practice and academics into more training. They were fast to include me and anyone else in extra work, from early morning lifts to evening ergs with angsty rock blaring.

Despite our short overlap, we formed a deep bond over our shared values. In January 2023, I received a text from Mo asking if I would be interested in joining him, Dave, and Anthony in rowing across the Atlantic - a mere 3,000-mile race known as the World’s Toughest Row, starting in December 2025 in La Gomera Spain and finishing in Antigua. My initial thoughts were of denial, questioning if I had any reason to complete such a feat. This race takes a steep toll on the body - rowing 24 hours a day, 2 hours on, 2 hours off until you finish. The ‘why?’ questions in my head would soon turn into ‘Why not?’, and achieving this feat alongside these guys became a challenge that I yearned to do.

It was the amount of preparation the race took that was the real source of my skepticism. To even get to the start line of this race takes resources and time - our team needs to raise at least $100,000 to enter the race (purchasing a boat is a majority of the expense) and we need sufficient time to train and learn proper safety protocols, etc. Up until signing on, I was in the mindset that I needed to start a career and build a resume, so going off to row an ocean seemed like a big waste of time. David pointed out to me that preparing for this race was akin to starting a business, and that the skills that we could develop would be invaluable to whatever career we ended up in, and for our lives in general. I realized that this endeavor wasn’t necessarily a diversion from the path, but that it could be the path. The fear I have of the unknown is nothing compared to the fear of not becoming the person that I want to be.

Mulflur getting ready to erg
Mulflur getting ready to erg

row2k - What have been the biggest challenges organizing for the race?

Ryan Mulflur - Our geographic dispersion is by far our biggest obstacle. Many teams participating in this race live in the same vicinity as each other, which is an advantage that we do not have. Currently, David is in Cleveland, Ohio, Anthony in Victoria, Canada, and Mo in Hamburg, Germany. We plan to all move to be together in early 2025 to train for the race. Until then, we meet online every week to discuss our progress. We are actively establishing relationships with charities from Geneva and our respective hometowns that help and empower youth, as this race is also a major platform for philanthropic impact.

We are in the process of becoming our own charity with 501c3 status, with the Atlantic only being the first stepping stone in a legacy we want to last. For now, we are partnered with a 501c3 fiscal sponsor called Players Philanthropy Fund, which allows us to gather donations and form relationships with corporate sponsors. Our goal is to use this race to inspire and enable people to pursue the best version of themselves, as each of us has discovered a love in pursuing it in ourselves. We are seeking out corporations and all those who share our mission; you can support our effort at!

row2k - What do you like most about the sport of rowing?

Ryan Mulflur - I love that what you put into it equates to the results you will get. There are no flashy moves, Hail Mary plays, and certainly no cash prizes for the winners. It comes down to how hard you can push yourself and how well you can work together with others. I’ve found it to be a noble sport where commitment and intensity inevitably transform people into fuller versions of themselves both on the race course and off.

row2k - What has been your most memorable race and why?

Ryan Mulflur - My high school senior spring of rowing (2020) was canceled due to the onset of the pandemic, as did all levels of the sport. After a year of hard work at Hobart, I had made the 2V and was lining up at the IRA’s. We had an alright heat and a terrible semi-final, underperforming on our standards and goals. We lined up at the final, and I remember feeling immense gratitude for the opportunity to be racing. The boat over-performed what was expected of us, and crossing the finish line released a tidal wave of emotions I’d never felt before. I felt the ecstasy of hard work paying off, the melancholy of the season-ending and seniors leaving, the surrealness of how far I’d come, and the gratitude that I was able to compete at all, never mind at such a high level.

row2k - What are you studying at the Hobart and do you have any other plans for after graduation?

Ryan Mulflur - I am studying economics and international relations at Hobart. Aside from preparing for the race, I am planning on working at New York Life as an agent, to eventually become a Financial Advisor. I’ve been fascinated by financial services for a while, and I like the idea of helping people achieve their dreams by holistically addressing their financial goals. I think that there is a notable gap in our education system when it comes to personal finance, and I am determined to contribute to bridging that knowledge deficit on both the personal and corporate fronts.

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