Welcome to Our Rally Campaign
We are Jovanni Stefani and Brennan Wertz and are going to U23 World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam (the Netherlands), racing in the pair event. After winning the U.S. Trials two weeks ago in Princeton, we qualified to compete on the world stage. We are both extremely excited and honored to have the opportunity to represent Stanford and the United States of America at the world championship level. The U23 Pair is traditionally a very competitive event at the World Championships (with up to 20 countries entering boats), so we have been putting in extra training to make sure that we are prepared to take on many of the best college-age rowers in the world. Because we are both only 19 years old and competing in an event in which most are 21 and 22 years old, this calls for "vigorous training," in the words of Craig Amerkhanian, our Stanford coach. While we believe that our performance at Trials indicates that we'll be prepared for Worlds, we know the bar will be higher in competition against the best under-23 squads in the rowing world. Accordingly, we have doubled-down on our training since Trials, with the hopes of shaving a few more seconds off our time. Even though we may be a much younger crew than many of our competitors, we have faith in all of our training, and believe that we are in a very strong position going into the World Championships.
Our first practice together in the pair eight weeks ago - following our return to campus after Stanford’s strong performance at the IRA - was only our third or fourth time in a pair. Our initial outing was shaky, and we did not know what to expect at Trials. As we practiced (first in Stanford’s home waters of Redwood City, then Marin, CA; Hanover, NH; and Princeton, NJ), however, things started to solidify through long days on the water. Working out two to three times a day, logging a total of 1,920,000 meters (nearly 1,200 miles or the equivalent of rowing from Mexico to Canada along the West Coast) in our shell, and burning a total of 784,000 calories (the average person consumes roughly 2000 calories per day; our intense training requires nearly 6000), we made it through Trials successfully against several teams. We are now three weeks away from racing at the World Championships.
But we need all the support we can get, and that’s where we’re hoping you can join our team. We are hoping to raise $18,200 in total for our trip to Worlds. Financial contributions from those enthusiastic about seeing youth do well on the world stage are tremendous, especially when we cannot underwrite our nearly full-time training ourselves due to the countless hours we’re spending on the water. The money we raise will fund our food, flights, ground transportation, lodging, and boat rental abroad. Here is the breakdown of our projected costs:
- $2,450 x 3 for the cost of hotel, food, transportation to and from the course, and race entry fees while Craig, Jovanni, and Brennan are in Rotterdam from August 17th to August 27th.
- $4,900 for flights to/from Rotterdam
- $2,300 for boat rental, including transportation and insurance (Empacher shell)
- Free new oars courtesy of Concept II (with much appreciation to alum Peter and his brother Dick Dreissigacker - two longtime supporters of Stanford Rowing)
- $3,500 for food and transportation costs while training in the U.S. before departing for Rotterdam
- $150 for the Dartmouth Development Camp that we were involved in during the first half of our training in Hanover.
These expenses total $18,200 - our goal for this fundraising effort. Donations are an integral part of our training and competition plan. If we can rely on generous financial contributions from a wide team of supporters, we’ll be able to focus entirely on our training and doing the best we possibly can at Worlds. We really appreciate all of your support, at any level you can participate. This journey - an honor to represent the U.S. among the world’s top college-age teams - would not be possible without your generous help.
Stroke Seat: Brennan Wertz. Raised in Marin County, California, and spent my high school years rowing for the Marin Rowing Association under Coach Dustin Kraus. After my junior year of high school, I was selected to represent the U.S. in the Men’s Eight at the Junior Rowing World Championship in Hamburg, Germany. Jovanni and I were both in this Junior Eight in 2014, eventually placing 9th at Worlds. Hamburg was my first taste of international racing. After that World Championship, I knew that rowing on the international level was something that I wanted to pursue for years to come. Rowing on the Under 23 National Team has been a goal of mine since racing at in my first World Championship. There is something truly special about lining up at the stake boats and listening to all the crews speaking to each other in their own languages, while the officials poll the crews in a thick foreign accent. I could not be more excited to return to another World Championship, this time competing in a different boat class against older and faster crews. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the U.S. Junior National team, at the Marin Rowing Association, and now at Stanford Rowing, as it has taught me valuable lessons about teamwork, training hard, and working collaboratively toward a shared goal. After returning from Rotterdam, I will begin my sophomore year at Stanford, and continue my International Relations and German Studies coursework while training and racing with the Stanford Men’s Crew team.
Bow Seat: Jovanni Stefani. I grew up in San Francisco. I started off as a cross country runner for the first half of freshman year in high school, where we’d run laps around Lake Merced sometimes. It was then that I realized how cool rowing was, watching boats race each other as I ran around the lake. Shortly thereafter I joined the rowing team. As a novice at Pacific Rowing Club I was introduced to rowing by my coach Mike Knapp, whose inspirational stories made me want to push my limits. The next two years I was coached by Bob MacLean, who brought me to a gold medal at Nationals as a sophomore in the double, and a silver medal in the four at Nationals as a junior. My senior year I had Mike again as a coach and ended up winning another gold at Nationals in the four. The summer after senior year I sat in 4-seat of the Junior Eight at Worlds, right behind Brennan who was 5-seat. I am currently a rising junior at Stanford, about three weeks away from the most prestigious race I’ll have had yet. I’m excited to race against 20 other pairs in this international event. When I return to Stanford this year I will continue my studies in physics and my involvement with Stanford Men’s Crew.
Thanks to Craig Amerkhanian, our Stanford coach, who has coached us in our training, guiding us both on and off the water, and who has also traveled to the East Coast to coach us while training on the Connecticut River at Dartmouth. And thanks also to Stuart Maeder, who has been coaching us on a voluntary basis for six weeks, the duration of our training so far on the East Coast. Craig and Stuart’s coaching has been key to our development as a competitive pair.
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