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Peter Mallory's Blog

By pmallory - Posted on 26 November 2012

1 October 2012


For anyone who does not believe in the Theory of Evolution, take a close look at this photo from the Cal boathouse. I can only hypothesize that the building was hit by a lightning bolt in the middle of the night. It must have generated exactly 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, hitting some ergometers inside, two Concept2s beside a couple of the old, much feared/beloved Gamut ergometers of my youth, and the result was the Gamut2, a weird hybrid not unlike the classic American jackalope.

A second lightning strike and the result is what you see in the top photo [sadly, not shown here], the Gamut3. Back to the Future indeed!

My first sighting – of a Gamut3, not a jackalope – was at last spring’s San Diego Crew Classic, and the man who introduced it to me was Bob Immergluck. His last name means "always luck," and he has that glimmer in his eye that rowers and dreamers get when they feel their dreams are getting close. I have it. So do you, perhaps.

Hybrid Vigor

Don’t you love the universality of the Concept2 ergometer, but have you ever been bothered by the linear pull? The Gamut3 seems to provide the best of both worlds. The technical term is hybrid vigor. Combine two things - it works with lots of things - and the result just might be better than either parent in various ways.

Now that rowing barges are virtually extinct, ever wanted a better way to demonstrate and teach the biomechanics of rowing sweep before plopping a novice into an eight out on the water? Take another look at that photo above.

I could go on, but Bob has a website: He can speak very well for himself.

Serengeti Plain

This morning I was at the side of my house stripping the varnish from an old oar, an icky job by any measure, but who should drive by, spot me through the open gate and stop to say hi? Amy Fuller Kearny! Definitely made my day! We have always known that I live halfway between her house and UCLA. She has to drive right by at least twice a day, so I always expected that the day would come when I would be out front when she drove by . . . and that day turned out to be today.

Amy sat down, and in less than a minute she had a dog at her feet and a cat in her lap. Our house is a bit like the Serengeti Plain, and Amy obviously charms animals like she charms people.

It was terrific for us to catch up after an eventful summer for both of us. We spoke fondly of our mutual friend, Mark Hunter, both of us hoping he will soon return to Southern California.

How great it is to be a member of the world rowing family! You can go almost anywhere, and you have friends right around the corner. Go to a party, and chances are very good that you will run into someone who rowed for a semester at Cornell or who has a grandson rowing at Kent. Instant family connection.

Oar Update

What I was doing when Amy stopped by was continuing my work on antique oars. A couple of new oars needing work are arriving tomorrow. One of my 1974 Long Beach State lightweight team has located an old wooden Pocock sweep oar of the proper period. He has stripped it, and I have agreed to complete the restoration to the appearance of the oar we will be mounting on the wall of the Long Beach boathouse later this week.

I also have a couple of 1960s-era Ayling sweep oars in process. Such oars were among the first wave of Mâcon-bladed sweeps and sculls to reach the United States. I got to use them in my college and my club rowing in Philadelphia starting in 1966. The two oars I have located are astonishingly pristine, but they each have a couple of areas of their shafts which were shielded from the sun by labels and sleeves for forty years now, leaving the equivalent of bikini lines. What to do? Well, I have gotten some terrific advice about staining the lighter areas in one way or another, but since I have plenty of time while I work on other stuff, I have decided to mask off each entire oar except for the lighter areas and just leave them out for a while in the strong Southern California sun. Will it take a month? Two months? Will it work it all? Do I have the patience to wait it out? I’ll keep you posted.

Future Projects

I have a number of good friends who have their Henley or World Championship or Olympic oars gathering dust somewhere in storage. It would be my privilege to apply my skill and experience to turn them into beautiful trophy oars that they can display in their homes, offices or boathouses. I could leave them as is or bring them to a flawless sheen. I can apply lettering in any color, any design, any format, any font, listing whatever you want, the crew roster, regatta stats, whatever, following any of the myriad traditions worldwide that go back two centuries now.

And I’ve got a whole bunch of t-shirts I plan on turning into a quilt. After 53 years, it'll be a big one! I just need to find the time to come up with the design, definitely a patchwork.

On top of that, I am again rowing regularly down at my original California home of Long Beach, which is forty long minutes away from my current home near UCLA. I hope to be racing again as early as this fall, and I hope to be a real asset to any boat I am in in due time. Getting back into racing shape is a long process, but I am feeling good about it. I have always rowed for others, not for myself, so having teammates in Long Beach and San Diego to work for is very valuable to me.

All of you are valuable to me, too. Stay in touch!