OK, OK, this should really be called “The Paul Neil Page.” Paul is one of our customers. He’s owned one of our wooden boats for over eight years. When we first took his order we had no idea what Paul’s intentions were for his boat. We’ve since discovered that his intention was to win races. And has he ever!
In addition to his record setting race victories listed below, there are probably 50 more races we could add. Paul is a magnificent rower, a strong competitor and a wonderful human being. He has won the grueling Blackburn Challenge, rowing in the open ocean, eight times in a row… no other competitor or boat has won the race that many times. It looked as if Paul wasn’t going to be able to compete in his 7th year….his daughter was due to be born that weekend. As it happened, Emma arrived a week early…we decided that the baby is a competitor, just like her dad.
(Red denotes all-time course record)
Blackburn Challenge (Cape Anne, 22 miles, open ocean) ’97, ‘98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04
Tupper Lake Challenge (Saranac Lake, 44 miles) ‘98, ’99, ’00
No-Octane Regatta (Blue Mountain Lake) ‘98, ‘99, ’01, ’04
Adirondack Oarmaster (Blue Mountain Lake) ‘98, ‘99, ’01, ’02, ’03 ’04
Wye Island Race (Chesapeake Bay) ’00
Bell 8 and Back (Long Island Sound) ’99
Soundkeeper’s Challenge (Long Island Sound, 17 miles) ’98, ’99, 00, ’01, ’04
Adirondack Classic (90 miles, 5 miles of carries) ‘97,‘98,’99, ’00, ’01
Round the Mountain (Saranac Lake) ‘98, ‘99, ’00
Oarmaster (Newport RI, Buzzard’s Bay, MA) ‘97, ’98, ’99, ’00
Snow Row (Boston Harbor) ‘98, ‘99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04
The longest of these races is the Adirondack Classic, 85 miles of rowing, 5 miles of running with your boat on your back. Round the Mountain is 44 miles and the Blackburn is 22 miles of open-ocean rowing, from Gloucester, around Cape Anne, back to Gloucester. In the Adirondack Museum there hangs a lovely guideboat which was owned by Howard Seamans. The sign on the wall says that it is the winningest guideboat in history.
Well….that isn’t quite true—anymore. For awhile it was…but the winningest guideboat in history is the boat we built for Paul.
Howard Seamans has moved on to that great lake in the sky. But there are those around who still remember him. By all accounts he was a grand fellow, a powerful competitor, and a man who taught dozens how to make Guideboats screech across the water.
As in all areas of sport…the eternal question remains….how would the champion from one era do against the champion from another? We know that Paul would love to go up against the fastest there ever was. And we feel sure that Howard would welcome the challenge.
In 2005 we were told that Paul won his class in the Blackburn Challenge… but that he was rowing a St Lawrence Skiff. We sent Paul an e-mail asking what was up.
Here’s his response:
“Guilty as charged. At last year’s No-Octane Regatta, Keith Quarrier asked if I would row one of his St. Lawrence Skiffs in the Blackburn. I had already entered last year’s race with my Guideboat so I told him maybe next year. He kept me to it and I rowed one of his boats this year. It’s a nice boat but not the most comfortable boat to row 20 miles. Big blisters on my butt. The short oars kept pulling air between swells. Slow time. Where I usually beat John Aborn by 10 to 15 minutes, this year the margin was just 1 minute. I’ll be back in our Guideboat at next year’s Blackburn. Have no fear, my heart belongs in a Guideboat.”
Send us your race results and photos to post here.