Inge Stekl arrived from Austria two days before her race at the HOCR, rowed a quick tune-up with partner Fran Tuite from Lincoln Park Boat Club in Chicago, then lined up to race at the Head of the Charles as she has for many years.
Three years, three gold medals, and one course record in the Women's Senior Master Double into their earned #1bow number, they were the double to beat in their category.
"We had a good race," said Inge, "this year the quality of the racing was so high," she says.
Stekl has raced the 40+ masters and now the 50+ Masters for for more than a decade. "It takes a long time to get to know this river, last year we finally got it right!" She has always earned an automatic entry with Tuite, "She is a very good bow person."
This year was a bronze year. Stekl and Tuite were third to to doubles from Upper Valley (Tracy Glover and Carin Reynolds) and the hard-to-beat 2013 winners CB Sands-Bohrer and Linda Muri, who have a fairly long rowing resume.
Stekl's husband Phil has been a consistent winner in the Master's Four, racing as 1980 Boat Club. They have won eleven golds since 2001--spanning two categories--and switching between two coxswains, John Chatzky and Gary Goldring. The usual crew of Bill Purdy, Phil Stekl, Mike Tata and Dan Saynor have dominated the event. "Last year was one of the best years," said Stekl of his 11th gold in the event.
The couple moved from Chicago to Austria, Inge's home, three years ago. They never train with their Head of the Charles boat mates until they get off the plane, jet-lagged. Phil had arrived early this year, but it may not have been a good choice...he got a tough virus and spent his visit in the US sick, drained before his race.
His crew earned a sixth this year. "It is part of master's rowing," says Stekl. Some crews show up really ready...we had Bill Purdy out, me sick, and a different line-up," he says. George Tintor, a Canadian Olympian, filled in, and they all did a seat shift. Chatzky, their cox, said "it went well, the boat just seemed a little heavy in the last mile."
The pair seemed a little distressed by their lack of medals after the regatta--these are both competitive people after all, but they have been consistent at a regatta where event the elite international crews rarely are--the Head of the Charles has a way of making inconsistent rowers of everyone out there. But this couple will go back to Austria, regroup for next year, and go for gold again.