Potomac Boat Club Sets the Gold Standard in the Stämpfli Express

by Sarah Marshall, | Oct 01, 2015
By now you have surely seen it – the 48 oars reaching out in unison as part of the world’s largest rowing shell. The Stämpfli Express has taken the U.S. by storm with it’s public, debut weekend in the nation’s capital: Washington, D.C.

The Stämpfli Express has taken the U.S. by storm with it’s public, debut weekend in the nation’s capital: Washington, D.C.

This past weekend, the Potomac Boat Club sent forth 24 scullers comprising ofIMG_20150927_220254 copy eight Olympians, two PBC Elite Coaches and 14 members of the PBC Elite Athlete group.

Other than breaking the “Red Express” speed record and turning heads all over our nation’s capital, the PBC group was joined by Row2k’s Erik Dresser who captured amazing footage of the boat in action, check it out here!

USRowing sat down with 2008 Olympian and eight-time national team member Sam Stitt, who put together this star-studded lineup, to give us the skinny (croaker oars) on what it was like to take a ride in the Stämpfli 24.
Talk a little about your involvement with the Stämpfli before it arrived to America?

Well it was more that it was the right time and place than anything. Mechior Burgin, the owner of the Stämpfli 24, and his team were planning on doing a tour of America. Melch(ior) happens to be good friends and past competitors with Don Spero from Potomac Boat Club. Through Don and the help of other important organizers, they were able to schedule the 24 to be available during the 35th Head of the Potomac. 

This is when they reached out to me to put together the first line-up to go out that afternoon. From there I was able to find eight Olympians, two PBC Elite Coaches and 14 Elite Athletes … It took the help of a lot of people to make this possible and honestly it was an amazing lifetime experience.

What gave you the original notion to get an “elite” lineup in the boat and what was that process like?

The advantage of including our PBC Elites and Coaches was that they made up the majority of that boat. With an opportunity like this on the table, a lot of people responded immediately. The rest was just contacting other Olympic rowers that live in the D.C. area, four of which still train out of PBC.

Describe the atmosphere of the event…What was “game day” like as youStä24er Armadacup[2] copy were all preparing the shell to get on the water?

Getting the boat, riggers and oars together on the dock was the easy part since there were so many people. The flip side was that it was difficult making sure all twenty-four people were present and ready to go. At one point I had already tried to count the lineup down from bow three times and had to stop and just get into the boat and hope all twenty-four seats were filled!

I think once we shoved off the dock it became real. This boat was huge.

So. You broke the speed record previously held in the world’s largest racing shell. Congratulations! Was that a goal going into the day and how did it feel going that fast?

While we were rowing away from the dock, Melch told us that the fastest he has ever gone in the Stämpfli was eighteen kilometer an hour. Once we got further down the river, he gave little warning and just started calling power twenties…It wasn’t until we had spun around and rowed back through Memorial Bridge in front of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument that we broke twenty-one kilometers an hour. 

A funny side story to that, Melch was sitting on the stern of the deck during out second power twenty and almost rolled off the back of the boat from the surge. What kept him from rolling backwards was Erik Dresser’s homemade GoPro tri-pod that was stuck to the stern deck right behind him. Being in stroke seat, I got to see the whole thing and even laugh with Melch about it once he regained his footing and noticed I was tentatively watching. Needless to say, I was a tiny bit disappointed.

To groups who may not be completely convinced that renting the Stämpfli Express for an afternoon is worthwhile yet, what would you tell them?
Do it. It was an entirely new experience and also a great way to get a lot of friends and teammates in one boat for an epic row.

The Red Express will continue its journey along the east coast as it’s next stop will be in Pittsburgh, Pa. at the Head of the Ohio. For more information, click here.

The PBC Elite Lineup
Bow. Bill "Billiam" Greer
2. Devery Karz
3. Emily Schmieg
4. Morgan "Snorgan" McGovern
5. Jack "No Chill" Devlin
6. Jameson "The Voice" Harper
7. Reilly "Boss" Dampeer
8. Jason "Chief" Read
9. Dan Marquardt
10. Erik Meyer
11. Linda "Minivan" Miller
12. Esther Lofgren
13. Henry "I had fish for lunch" Nuzum
14. Jen Forbes
15. Phoebe "High School" Solms
16. Sean "The General" Gorman
17. Justin Keen
18. Chris "Squeaker" Massey
19. Willy "Wilbur" Cowles
20. Greg "Han Solo" Ansolabehere
21. Wolfgang "Wolf" Moser
22. Matt "Mad Dog" Madigan
23. Giuseppe "Juice" Lanzone
Stroke. Sam "Stitter" Stitt
Cox. Melchior "Melch" Burgin

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