From Seattle To Alaska, Rowers Push Their Endurance In New Waters
From the Summer, 2020, edition of SWEEP Magazine
Adventure is in their blood.
Austin Regier spent his first-grade year on a mercy ship in Africa, learning through his parents' example about the fulfillment of serving others. His roommate and UW Rowing colleague Felix Reinhold was born in Germany and raised on a wine farm in South Africa, developing a relentless work ethic before honing his rowing skills in New Zealand.
After COVID-19 canceled their senior seasons, the pair set off on another adventure to earn money for an unanticipated fifth year at the UW. Thanks to connections made through a Rowing alumnus, they spent 48 days at sea on a fishing boat in the Alaskan wilderness.
"Sometimes, we'd be up at 2 a.m. and fish until 10 a.m. in rough seas with 6-foot swells and 25-knot winds. We were in the pitch-black night and getting tossed around while bringing in lots of fish," Felix explains. "At one point, Austin turns to me and says, if it wasn't for all this, the job wouldn't be bad-ass."
"You realize it's kind of miserable but that's what makes the job exotic and cool," Austin laughs.
Along with their adventurous backgrounds, Felix and Austin also were fueled by the skills they learned in four years as Husky rowers.
"We brought Washington Rowing with us to Alaska — our self-discipline, tenacity, mental aptitude," says Austin, who is majoring in industrial and systems engineering. "I didn't know I could go that long without sleeping! I found out how far I could push myself."
Felix, who will earn a degree in environmental studies, says he appreciated the time for quiet contemplation and the hard work Alaskan fishers put in year after year.
"It's mind-blowing to walk into a supermarket now and see a salmon filet and no longer take it for granted," he notes. "Like rowing, the lessons I learned on the boat will last me a lifetime."
The experience helped numb the heartache of being unable to compete last spring. Austin and Felix had been determined to bring an IRA trophy back to Washington. Now, thanks to their summer jobs and the generosity of donors, they'll get another chance.
"One of the best things about Washington Rowing is the great group of alumni and fans who give us so much support," says Felix.