For the Potomac Boat Club, the Youth World Rowing Championships in Yugoslavia began in confusion and ended in defeat.
Built in between, the 11 members of the club representing the United States in Belgrade earlier this month, learned a bit about international camaraderie and how superior rowers are developed.
The team's first problem was getting to Belgrade fully equipped.
"It cost far too much money to take the boats with us," said Coach Charlie Butt. So their $1,500-$6,500 wood and fiberglass boats remained racked in the club's warehouse on Water Street.
The Americans thought that boat problem could be solved easily.
"We had to rent boats and some of them arrived late," said Butt. "Not only did they arrive late but they were dogs." The boats were rented from the British and British and Swiss.
The Greeks, Canadians and Soviets came to the rescue by lending them four boats. "They were superb boats," But said. But they were late.
"We got the boats on Monday and racing started Wednesday. It take at least two or three days to rig the and get used a boat," Butt said.
Chris Peterson and Rich Califf of Fort Hunt School in Alexandria rowed the straight pair in a boat loaned by the Greeks. They came closer to winning than the other two American crews.
Butt feels the straight pair did better because the boat was rigged properly and Peterson and Califf were accustomed to the boat. "Oh, yeah," Peterson agreed. "I was used to the boat and it was nice - we only missed the finals by a second or two." The pair-with-coxswain lost to Poland and West Germany.
The four-without-coxswain had its difficulties, too. Paul Hannah of St. Andrews Prep School in Delaware was at the bow and explained the trouble. "Right after the (national) trials, Dan Louis of San Francisco got mononucleosis. He was replaced by Jim McGlone."
McGlone of St. Joseph's Prep School in Philadelphia took over the stroking. According to Butt, the replacement resulted in a week's loss of practice time for the crew. "It's not that McGlone is not good," Butt said. "He's good and tough. Actually, we would have probably been better off with practice time."
Once the four-without got together on land, bad luck followed in the water. "We made it to the petite finals," Hannah said, "and we were winning the race over the Danes, Canadians and others when our oar lock broke. Next thing I knew, we were just sitting on the water watching the others go by."
The four - with lost in the semifinals. The boat was manned by Matt and Burgess Smith of Washington and Charles Gardner, David Worthen and Steve Weinstein. All came from Massachusetts to row in the Potomac summer program.
Hannah, who will be attending the University of Washington in the fall said, "There was great camaraderie at the championships.I was amazed at how well everyone got along. The greatest camaraderie was between the U.S. and the Canadians because there wasn't a language barrier."
Hannah did remember the East Germans as being the only ones that were "a little seclusive."
Peterson will be attending Amherst College in September. He said he appreciates the United States more after having gone abroad. "I didn't see much of Belgrade," he added, "but I couldn't believe how everyone liked American products. If it was American, they wanted it."
Butt, who has been teaching rowing at Washington-Lee High School for 29 years, has some serious thoughts on the future of rowing.
"Yough rowing is moving up," he said, "but for our teams to do better we have to increase summer rowing and try for more funding. I had 400 rowing in the spring - less than 5 percent are rowing this summer."
The trip to Belgrade cost each member of the team $900. The squad's single sponsor the National Rowing Club, paid a third of the total cost. In 10 years of participation in the event, the U.S. team has yet to win a gold medal.
Peterson supported importance of youth participation.
"I was talking to a Russian and he told me his 10-year-old brother is already training four times a day, 11 months of the year," he said. "He also attended a rowing school."
It will take a "strong dosage of concentration, determination and meanness," Butt said, to stop the Russians from winning four golds again next year.