By Kourtney de Haas, Austin Rowing Club
One of the rotating topics featured on this blog will be the rowing biography of various ARC members. We continue this week with Elisabeth Gardner, who has served on the Board of Directors for several years, including the last three years as President.
KdH: How/where/when did you discover the sport of rowing?
EG: I grew up in Comfort, Texas which is on the Guadalupe River – lots of canoeing and tubing, but no rowing. I had probably seen rowing in the Olympics on TV, but it didn’t seem like something that was accessible to me so it didn’t make much of an impression. I moved to Austin in 1994, but it took seven years of watching the graceful rowers on Town Lake for me to google rowing in Austin and discover the Austin Rowing Club.
KdH: How/when did you discover Austin Rowing Club?
EG: I took the Learn to Row class at ARC in July of 2001 and I knew immediately that this was the sport for me. The LTR instructors I remember: Paul Scripko, Arch Bell, and Darla Parker. After completing LTR I jumped in with both feet. I began going to the boathouse every evening to see if anyone needed any subs, I got together with other July LTR grads and formed Motley Crew and Austin Powerz, I helped form the Novice Competitive Women’s Crew, and finally we merged the Novice Women’s Crew with the Major Babes to form the Women’s Competitive Crew.
KdH: Do you have any outstanding memory or story, good or bad, related to rowing that you can share with us?
EG: Good – There have been many good rowing related memories, including winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2003 Masters Nationals regatta in Rancho Cordova, CA. I hadn’t been rowing that long and although I had trained extremely hard for this, I still wasn’t sure I was ready. Winning with my team was an incredible feeling and if I hadn’t been hooked before, this regatta did the trick!
Bad & Good – Installing the Heart of Texas race course has always been one of my favorite parts of regatta prep. We used to borrow Capital Cruise’s bat boat and in shifts of 8-10 people we would form two assembly lines and move up and down the length of the course installing two lines of buoys at a time. It’s hard work, but fun to do as a group. Well… in 2003 things things started off smoothly. We had almost completed the first two lines when I looked down the course and noticed an unusually high number of ducks on the lake. The number kept growing and I remember saying, “please tell me those are ducks!” They weren’t – they were loose buoys. Unfortunately the twine that had been purchased to string the buoys wasn’t intended to be used in water and was falling apart almost instantly once it hit the water. This meant we had 200 buoys that we were going to have to chase down and fish out of the water and even more that hadn’t been installed yet that would also have to be restrung! That was the bad part. The good part was that I instantly got on the phone and asked someone to send out an arc-announce to rally the troops and help re-string all of the buoys. It was great to see the ARC community turn out in such a big number on such short notice to get the work done.
KdH: How often do you row now, and in what types of boats?
EG: Lately, I don’t row nearly as much as I’d like to. Work has been extremely busy this year and I’ve been on the road more than usual. I will row in any type of boat from singles to eights, but my favorites are doubles and eights.
KdH: Where is the best place you have ever rowed?
EG: The best place I’ve rowed outside Austin, of course, would be Strathclyde Park outside Glasgow, Scotland for the 2005 World Masters Regatta.
KdH: Do you have (or have had in the past) any special roles at Austin Rowing Club or other rowing organizations?
EG: I’ve been co-captain of the Women’s Competitive Crew, worked on many regatta committees including as Regatta Director, served on ARC’s Board of Directors as Vice-President, and I am currently President of ARC [editor's note: Elisabeth's term as President ended December 2010]
KdH: Do you see yourself still involved with the sport of rowing in five years? If yes, do you have any goals you can share?
EG: Absolutely! My goal is to row for so long, that USRowing has to add new masters categories!
KdH: If you were to be reincarnated as a piece of rowing equipment, what would you want to be?
EG: Definitely the impeller! I want to feel the speed of the boat!