Croatian Favored in Men’s Champ Singles

HOCR Fans to Get First Look at Silver Medalist Martin

By Rich Petrilli – Posted on October 21, 2016

After winning Olympic silver and missing out on gold by 5/1000ths of a Martinsecond—or roughly half a bow ball—last summer in Rio, Croatian Damir Martin figures to be the guy to beat in Saturday’s championship singles race at the Head Of The Charles Regatta

Martin will be rowing in the second position off the start line, behind last
year’s runner-up John Graves of Craftsbury. He’ll be chased up the course by 2012-2013 champion Kjetil Borch of Norway.

But he will not have to deal with Mahé Drysdale of New Zealand, who’s rowing in a double with Olaf Tufte this weekend. Drysdale overtook Martin in an unforgettable photo finish in Rio, Martin leading until the final stroke of the race. Despite the narrow defeat, Martin remains in high spirits, and was very proud of his performance in Brazil.

“I was really satisfied by how I rowed,” said Martin, “and I said that I could win only if Mahé was not as good as he was.”

Martin rowed a fantastic race against one of the sport’s premier talents, as Drysdale medaled in the last three Olympic games, winning gold in both Rio and London.

But Drysdale is 37 years old, and many believe that Rio will be his last Olympics, Martin does not want to take any chances, saying “I wouldn’t cross him. I think he’ll keep going.”

Martin did note that, at age 28, “years and time [are] on my side, so my time is coming and I’m looking forward to it.”

Martin answers with a resounding yes when asked if he agreed with the many folks making him the favorite this weekend, citing a very solid rest period between the Olympics and the Head of the Charles. But he expects competition from Graves, Borch and Mexican Olympian Juan Carlos Cabrera. And he knows the twisting HOCR course will play a role.

“We are all Olympians and all at a high level, so it’s going to be who turns better in the bends” said Martin.

Another major factor for all rowers this weekend will be Mother Nature, as a forecast of rain and high winds are expected, with the brunt of the storm expected to hit on Saturday. Martin was able to get out onto the water for the first time Thursday afternoon, and he was pleased with the conditions that day. Despite that fact, he is well-aware that the weather will play a major role in Saturday’s race.

“The headwind is not on my side, so the [rower] who is in better shape has better cards,” said Martin, although he noted “I know how to race in bad conditions and I think everything [will go] fine.”

Martin’s arrival on Wednesday marked his first time on American soil, and he had nothing but great things to say about Boston and the United States as a whole.

“It’s just like the movies,” he said, “I’m pretty excited about everything and everybody is so nice and welcoming.”

Martin really hopes to do a great job in his first ever race in the States, and a win at the Head of the Charles Regatta would mean a lot to him, calling the event “a big tradition” in the rowing community, and acknowledging that “many people follow it and there’s a prestige [to the event].”

Finally, with a big smile, Martin said Saturday’s race is “a good start for the new Olympics.”

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