Open water rowing isn't all Atlantic crossings and round-the-world trips - a few weeks back Nick Trojan, a four-time member of the US National Team, adventured in his single from the Southern California Coast to Catalina Island. row2k caught up with Trojan to learn more about his trip on the Pacific, the motivation for his row, and the wildlife he encountered.
For some visuals to go along with the interview, check out the video of Nick's row.
row2k: What was your inspiration for rowing to Catalina?
Nick Trojan: It was always one of those things we (rowers) kind of joke about doing but never really do. Every once in awhile in SoCal we get some really clean air that allows us to easily see Catalina Island from the mainland. When it's a clear enough day it almost looks so close that you could easily row to it when the swells are down.
row2k: How long had you been thinking about the row before deciding to do it?
NT: Hah! It was about few minutes. One morning I was driving to practice and it was one of those clear days, so I texted my dad asking if he would follow/guide me across the channel on his fishing boat, and he said yes without hesitation. We decided on a Wednesday to cross the channel that (following) Sunday mostly because of work. We just kept an eye on the weather until Sunday morning.
row2k: Did you have a goal in mind when you started? How long did the row take?
NT: The original goal was to just go until I couldn't due to exhaustion, weather, boat failure, etc. There was never a time standard or specific goals. We basically just winged it. The row ended up taking about four and a half hours.
row2k: What kind of shell were you rowing? How did the conditions vary throughout the day?
NT: I was rowing in a Fluidesign lightweight shell that held up just fine through the rough stuff. The Catalina channel is usually really glassy with long swells from early morning until around 11 a.m. There was a bit of a storm coming in that afternoon, but we were pretty confident that we would beat it. Had we left 10 minutes later from Alamitos Bay we probably would not have made it. We got really lucky at the end.
row2k: How was this challenge different from other rowing you have done?
NT: I wouldn't call it a challenge, because I didn't want to put pressure on the situation. I did it more for the thrill of the sport. I didn't want it to be a grueling goal because rowing has always been this endless battle with boat moving and fitness. It was my goal to use this experience as a way to make rowing fun again and to do something no one else has done.
row2k: Any strange encounters on the sea?
NT: Yes! We did run into some Humpback whales and few seals here and there. We saw the whales about 42K into the row; I was kind of losing my mind in some sense because I paused the clock and GPS and tried to follow the whales a little bit but then I realized the storm was lurking and got back on track almost immediately after seeing some dark clouds closing in.
row2k: Who was your support team? Did they have food/water for you or did you keep it all in your shell?
NT: I was lucky to have my two best friends wake up and document the whole crossing. My dad was running the show with his boat following me along with the Long Beach Junior Crew Club President Keith Johnson. I had everything with me so that I wasn't tempted get out of the boat.
row2k: Would you do it again? Do you have other open water rowing ambitions?
NT: I probably would not do it again unless it was in a team boat. I enjoyed every second of it but at the end I said, "That was fun...let's never do that again."