Talk about your great ‘how I spent my summer vacation’ story.
Parksville rower Kai Langerfeld helped power team Canada to a bronze medal in men’s coxed pair at the World Rowing Championships.
Played out Aug. 15-20 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the 2012 World Rowing Senior and Junior Championships saw Langerfeld medal in his national team debut and was the culmination of years of hard work.
Canada sent 18 rowers to the World Championships — seven males and 11 females. There were more than 15 countries represented at the big annual competition.
Langerfeld and his teammates — Peter McClelland of Aurora, Ont., and coxswain Dane Lawson of Brockville, Ont. — finished the 2,000-metre race in a time of six minutes 55.33 seconds, and had to hold off a strong challenge from Italy to secure themselves a spot on the podium.
It was the best finish turned in by a Canadian team, and the Canucks’ lone medal. Belarus grabbed gold and France crossed over second for silver in that race.
“I don’t think we could have gone any faster in that boat,” Langerfeld said. “They (Italy) had a really strong finish and they were coming up quick on us, but we managed to hold them off on the sprint. It was pretty cool.”
“We don’t take readings after races but it’s probably close to 200 … it’s definitely up there,” he laughed when asked what their heart rates are like after a race like that, then made the point, “for me, personally, it was just fantastic. It was my first race on the senior national team, so this has been about three full years in the making.”
Asked for some insight into the men’s coxed pair event, Langerfeld said the three man crews feature two rowers and a coxswain seated at the back of the boat who steers and calls out the race plan.
“It’s basically rowing a straight pair with an extra 120 pounds in it.”
As for his time in Bulgaria, “that was a bit of a culture shock there, I’ve never been that far east of Europe, so it was interesting for sure.”
Worth noting is that Langerfeld and McClelland have both been rowing with the Canadian Olympic team since last January “so we went through the ups and downs with them, and that was definitely the reason why we were able to medal. We go through a lot of rough days in the winter (training on Elk Lake), and it helped prepare us.”
Also helping the cause was the fact Langerfeld and McClelland were in Italy since early July training with the Olympic team for two weeks “and then we flow to London with the team and when they went to race the Olympics Pete and I trained in Cambridge and at the London Boat Club.
“That was very cool …the history is amazing.”
While training at storied LBC they were privy to a couple guest coaches including Steve Trapmoore, who won a gold medal at the 2000 Sidney Olympics as a stroke man for Great Britain’s Men’s 8s crew.
Along the way, the Ballenas Secondary grad logged a lot of air miles.
“I had eight or nine flights, some of them 10 hours, a couple travel days close to 24 hours long …it comes with the territory.”
Langerfeld capped off his summer to remember at his girlfriend Johanna Weber, who also attends UVic and is on the rowing teams’ parents house in Mobile, Alabama, and had just got back to Victoria when we caught up with him.
“I was there for eight days — it was my first time there,” he said, explaining “it was different. It was very different — it was pretty cool. Really nice place, really nice people.”
Tropical storm Isaac was just gathering steam in those parts when he left.
“It was an awesome summer,” he confirmed. “I had a lot of great experiences.”
In the meantime, Langerfeld, 25, a second generation rower with Olympic glory on his radar, is digging in for the start of his third year at UVic.
Asked what his strongest memory is he’ll take away from the World Championships, Langerfeld thought for a second then said “for me personally, it was just realizing I have the ability to compete with the top rowers in the world. That was pretty big for me.”
The 6’5″ 215 pounder will back at UVic in the Fall for his third year where he’ll also train with the Vikes rowing team until January, at which time he’s back training on Elk Lake with the Nats. There are about 14 women on the Canadian Natioal Rowing Team and close to 30 on the Men’s.
The 2016 Summer Olympics are slated for Rio De Janerio, “and that’s definitely my top goal,” Langerfeld confirmed.
Asked if he ever has days when he wonders if all the years of sacrifice are worth it, and his answer came quickly.
“No, because I love it. I love what I’m doing. I never feel like I’m working,” he pointed out. “You have to find something you love to do, and I’ve definitely found that.”