By Bowman - Posted on 29 March 2006

0930, Saturday, 25 March 2006
Hubbard Hall

Navy's 1V rows the Jon Eric VanAmringe to a win in its inaugural race!!!

What an absolutely fantastic weekend!!!

Forty-five hearty souls attended the weekend events and witnessed a NavyLights first – Navy lightweight crews swept Princeton in four races!

In 1961 Navy swept the water in two races – the 1V and 2V – so this also marks only the second time that Navy lightweight crews have ever swept Princeton.


Upon completion of the morning races, fans and crews made their way to Hubbard Hall where Navy’s new Resolute Intrepid eight-oared sweep was officially christened the Jon Eric VanAmringe – fresh off its first race and first win!

The christening events began with a march-on to the boathouse apron by the men of Navy’s Varsity and Plebe lightweight crews.  This could very well have been the first time Mids have marched-on and stood in formation at Hubbard Hall – a fitting tribute to the christening about to take place.

With the crews formed, Coach Rob Friedrich opened with remarks about another Navy lightweight first – the Jon Eric VanAmringe is Navy Lightweight Crew’s first ever endowed boat.  And, it is especially fitting that Resolute’s Intrepid is considered the top-of-the-line eight-oared sweep in the rowing world today.

Steve Hall ‘75 spoke next with a special message for Navy’s current lightweight crews.  The bond we have with Jon and the bond among our group are bonds that began thirty-two years ago when we too walked on Hubbard’s apron and put boats in the water to row; they should cherish their days rowing for Navy and not let time allow them to drift apart.

Steve introduced Jon who spoke about the tradition and fraternity of rowing and about how crew is more than just a sport – it is about friendships that last long after the rowing is over.  And, it’s about being one with the boat.

Jon quoted from George Pocock.

It’s a great art is rowing
It’s the finest art there is.
It’s a symphony of motion
And when you’re rowing well
Why it’s nearing perfection;
You’re touching the divine.
It touches the you of you’s
Which is your soul.

Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Commander Suwatski then blessed the boat with a prayer and with that the christening began!

Finish-line water from fifteen sources was used to christen the boat.  [Editor’s note: The water contained creepy crawlies and sediments of unknown origin – remember this later.]

Two containers were filled with the water.  One container was Jon’s great aunt’s crystal decanter, which in age could be close to a century, and the other was the Eads Johnson Jr. Cup, which is awarded annually to the winner of the Navy – Yale varsity lightweight race.  Jon christened the stern of the boat with the water from the crystal decanter, and Jon’s crewmates from Yale, his sailing teammates, and his Navy crews all poured water in turn from the Eads Johnson Cup to christen the bow.  Tom Weil, Yale ‘70, even drank from the cup stating that “this was a once in a lifetime occasion that called for a once in a lifetime drink!”  [Editor’s note: Recall the earlier comment.  We trust Tom is well.]

The current varsity eight joined Alex Cobble to complete the christening and emptied the last remaining water in the cup over the bow.

Navy’s 1V then put the Jon Eric VanAmringe on the water and rowed several times on College Creek past Hubbard Hall.

Finish-Line Water Course Location Event / School
Mercer Lake Mercer County Park, West Windsor, New Jersey Navy v. Yale
Carnegie Lake Princeton, New Jersey Princeton Crew

Navy v. Princeton

Princeton Chase

Belly of the Carnegie
Raritan River New Brunswick, New Jersey Rutgers Crew

Navy v. Rutgers
Cooper River Camden County Park, New Jersey IRA National Championships
Schuylkill River Fairmont Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Penn Crew

Navy v. Penn

Navy Day Regatta

Head of the Schuylkill
Charles River Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts Harvard Crew

Navy v. Harvard

Head of the Charles
Potomac River Washington, DC Georgetown Crew

Navy v. Georgetown
Severn River Annapolis, Maryland Navy Crew
Housatonic River Derby, Connecticut Yale Crew
Yale Lightweight Rowing Tanks Payne Whitney Gymnasium, New Haven,

Yale Crew
Allegheny River Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Carnegie Mellon


Head of the Allegheny
Lake Erie Erie, Pennsylvania Mercyhurst College

RELTNY Rent-a-Crew
Cayuga Lake Ithaca, New York Ithaca College Crew

Cornell Crew
FISA 1996 Olympic Rowing Course Atlanta, Georgia Olympic Rowing Course
San Diego Bay San Diego, California San Diego Crew Classic

Following completion of all events an intrepid group of NavyLights74-78, dressed in blue and gold tie dyed racing shirts courtesy of Sherri, Pam, and Bob Blase, put The Great Eight in the water and rowed on College Creek.

The boating was Bob Blase-cox, Phil Kumpis-stroke, Steve Hall-7, John Scherrer-6, Keith Weaver-5, Mike Wahl-4, Pete Filkins-3, Steve Nimitz-2, and Loush Memminger-bow.

Bob had the crew rowing power 10s and 20s and Keith said that “if Bob turned the boat around once more he was going to climb over Phil and turn the boat back toward the boathouse himself!”  Such is the joy of rowing.


1800, Friday, 24 March
Hubbard Hall

Prior to Saturday’s racing and christening events, NavyLights74-78 hosted a reunion dinner to honor Jon, which included Jon’s friends from the sailing team on which he sails, Jon’s classmates and crewmates from Yale, Navy’s current lightweight crew coaches and staff, and Navy’s first lightweight crews of the modern era.

RELTNY Rent-a-Crew Sailing Team

Hopbo Kuebler and John Bert proposed the first toasts to Jon on the evening.  And, Annie Bert will attest that she has never seen Hopbo on better behavior – Jon even has the ability to bring out the best in a sailor!


Jon’s fellow crewmates Vic Machcinski, Dave Vogel, and Tom Weil toasted Jon and related their stories of being “one with the boat.”  Tom spoke about rowing in Jon’s boat as “…being part of a miracle of seemingly effortless speed – no crabs, no lurching, no hitting the stops at the top of the slide, or wrenching at the finish – the boat ran without checking, like we all want, like we rarely do.”  Spoken like the true bow man that Tom is.


Luke Memminger represented NavyLights74-78 in a moving tribute to Jon – while all the while somehow managing to instruct everyone on how to rig for battle dress “…take a napkin like so, tie the corner in a knot, pull it real tight with your teeth, and now do the other three corners.”  At the end of which Luke and our Yale guests were in full battle dress complete with a spoon.  Luke is a commercial airline pilot.  They can’t all be like Luke – do you think?

Coach Rob Friedrich

Rob welcomed everyone and thanked the group for giving Navy lightweight crew a top-of-the-line boat!  The new Resolute Intrepid should help give Navy’s 1V that extra edge in what is shaping-up as another competitive year in EARC lightweight competition with Harvard, Navy, Penn, Princeton, and Yale yet again being the crews to beat.  Rob’s crews take each race one-at-a-time and look forward to competing for both the Wright and Jope cups at this year’s Sprints.

Navy FirstLights

We were fortunate and blessed to have as guests, members of Navy’s first lightweight crews of this modern era!

Hub Davidson ’45 succeeded Buck Herzog ’46 as Navy’s second lightweight coach and coached two years from 1955 – 1957.  In 1957, Hub hosted the EARC Sprints on the Severn with the 2V and 1F eights winning gold.  The 1V came in fifth on that day but had been a favorite going into the race and had a great season nonetheless.  Hub returned to Navy in 1968 and was the Lightweight Crew Officer Representative from 1968 – 1970.

Jack McNish ’55 related the story of how Buck Herzog ’46 requested Rusty Callow’s permission to enter a 1V lightweight eight in the 1954 EARC Sprints held in Princeton.  Rusty gave his approval and a boat was formed, which raced on 15 May 1954.  That was the only lightweight race in 1954 and marks the birth of Navy’s modern day lightweight crew.  Jack stroked the 1954 boat, rowed 6-seat in 1955, and was the captain of those first two lightweight crews.

Ben George ’56 was the lightweight crew manager in 1956 and a sometimes starboard bow man.  Ben related a story about Navy’s lightweights making weight for a race at Cornell when in the process of the team doing calisthenics by the numbers, in order to sweat-off some pounds, the Cornell building began to creak, crack, and shudder!  They got out of that building “most ricky-tick” as one might say.  We’re not sure if the structural engineers ever inspected that building or not but all were safe for the moment.

Darrow Kirkpatrick ’57 was Navy’s 1957 lightweight crew captain and 4-seat.  Darrow’s class was the first to row three full years as varsity lightweight crew.  One of his memorable moments was the Navy-Princeton-Penn regatta in May 1957.  The finish was to close to call but Princeton’s coach, in the launch with Hub Davidson, shook Hub’s hand and conceded, “Well, you finally beat us.”  However, the win was not to be as the judges conferred the victory on Princeton.  Later on the dock the Princeton stroke stated to Darrow something like “either you guys have gotten a lot better or we had a bad day, and I think it was the latter.”  Needless to say, Darrow was particularly happy to see Navy’s sweep of Princeton on Saturday!

The evening concluded with Gary Lundeen and Tom Weil reading well wishes to Jon from Navy and Yale friends who could not attend.

And, with the Jon Eric VanAmringe’s win in its first race the following day, Joel Bohlmann’s ‘78 well-wishing comment may be prescient:

I’m not sure if getting a boat named after you is on it’s own a connection to immortality; but, I’m pretty sure that if the boat wins the Sprints and Nationals it is!  Good luck to Jon and to Rob and his current generation of NavyLights on getting Jon’s foot in the door to immortality.

2300 – 0300 Saturday morning, 25 March
Courtyard by Marriott

A small contingent from the Hubbard Hall dinner made its way to the local Courtyard by Marriott.  The Yale contingent of Jon VanAmringe, Dave Vogel, and Tom Weil joined Alex Cobble, Steve Hall, Gary Lundeen, and Luke Memminger for an “early morning nightcap” of vodka straight-up courtesy of Tom.  A grand time was had with the highlight being Alex’s one-hour answer to the seemingly simple question of, “Have you ever been to Diego Garcia?”  We are still not certain if Alex has ever been to Diego Garcia but what a treat to learn of just about everywhere else in the Indian Ocean and nearby Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, South China Sea, and East China Sea!  Interestingly, at about 0200 our A-7 driver went tango-uniform (aka tits-up, or in mixed company toes-ups).

1300, Saturday, 25 March

Following the grueling Saturday morning alumni row coxed by task master Bob Blase the christening group moved to McGarvey’s for a light lunch and spirits.  Yale’s contingent included Dick Ewing, Jon VanAmringe, Dave Vogel, and Tom Weil.  NavyLights74-78 was represented by Bob Blase, Alex Cobble, Steve Hall, Phil Kumpis, Gary Lundeen, Luke Memminger, Steve Nimitz, John Scherrer, Marilyn and Mike Wahl, and Susan and Keith Weaver and daughter Jennifer.  Much to Tom’s surprise he was continually asked, “Did you really drink the water?”

2030, Saturday, 25 March

Many of the group departed Annapolis after Officer’s Call; however, several stalwarts remained for one last dinner gathering that evening in Eastport.  After driving down from a wedding, which by a quirk of fate had been at Yale, Sandy and Gary Harrell joined Jon VanAmringe, Bob Blase, Steve Hall, Phil Kumpis, Gary Lundeen, Mary Ellen and Vic Machcinski and son Scott, Steve Nimitz, and Marilyn and Mike Wahl at the Rockfish restaurant.  Listening to our group swap lies and tall tales that evening just might have proven Kipling correct when he said, “we're most of us liars, we're 'arf of us thieves, and the rest are as rank as can be.”  We hope that high school sophomore and USNA candidate Scott Machcinski was savvy enough to filter fact from fiction and that he is now convinced Navy blue & gold is better than Army gray.

The Maryland Inn

With at least one bow man remaining a bow man’s breakfast buffet could be called!  On Sunday morning our lone bow, Jon, was joined by Bob Blase, Steve Hall, Sandy and Gary Harrell, and Gary Lundeen for the final gathering of a great weekend.

To say that a great time was had by all is not a cliché concerning this christening.  And, for those unable to attend – we felt you there in spirit.


Hubbard Hall is scheduled for a major renovation beginning summer 2007 and may be reopened in 2008 or 2009. Hubbard’s reopening and dedication would seem a fitting time for another gathering by all Navy crews – heavyweights, lightweights, women, and battalion crews – so start planning for that time when once again “we one or two shall meet….”



Yale Class of 1970

Jon Eric VanAmringe

USNA Class of 1945

Hub Davidson
Second Navy Lightweight Crew Coach 1955-1957
Hosted the 1957 Lightweight EARC Sprints on the Severn

USNA Class of 1955

Jack McNish
Stroked the first lightweight eight in 1954
Captain 1954 and 1955

USNA Class of 1956

Ben George
Manager 1956 and sometimes bow man

USNA Class of 1957

Darrow Kirkpatrick
4-oar; many memories of particularly “arrogant” Princeton crews and Saturday’s victories were especially sweet!
Captain 1957

USNA Class of 1974

John Scherrer
Marilyn and Mike Wahl

USNA Class of 1975

Pam and Bob Blase
Bill Daley
Steve Hall
Gary Lundeen

USNA Class of 1976

Alex Cobble
Sandy and Gary Harrell
Phil Kumpis
Luke Memminger
Steve Nimitz
Susan and Keith Weaver and daughter Jennifer

USNA Class of 1977

Karen and Pete Filkins

Yale Class of 1970

Dick Ewing
Mary Ellen and Vic Machcinski and son Scott
Tom Weil

Yale Class of 1971

Dave Vogel

RELTNY Rent-a-Crew Sailing Team

Annie and John Bert
Clarke “Hopbo” Kuebler

Current Coaches, Staff, and Guests

Nick Baker, Plebe Lightweight Crew Coach

Tammy and Tom Callender ‘90, LCDR USN, Assistant Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach and Lightweight Crew Faculty Representative

Kathy and Greg Cotten ‘87, LCDR USNR, Varsity Lightweight Crew Officer Representative

Craig and Rob Friedrich, Varsity Lightweight Crew Coach

Joe Friedrich, Rob’s father – who has never missed a Navy lightweight race since Rob joined USNA in 2001!

Stu Lockhart ‘91, MAJ USMC, Plebe Lightweight Crew Officer Representative

Michael Paulovich, COL, USMC, Academy's Senior Marine, Director of the Academy's Humanities and Social Sciences Division, and former Harvard lightweight oar Class of 1979

Bob Pressly ‘86, LTCOL USMCR; former Navy lightweight oar just returned from Iraq

Hunter Washburn ‘94, ENS USNR; former Navy lightweight oar and captain and stroke of Navy’s 2004 U.S. national champion lightweight crew

To our memories of rowing and memories yet to be made.

On Severn ‘Neath the Sky

Sing me a song of an oar who is gone,
Say, could that oar be I?
Winsome and strong he rowed on a day
On Severn ‘neath the sky.

Tower astern, Manresa to port,
Bancroft on starboard bow,
“Glory of youth glowed in his soul:
Where is that glory now?”

Give me again all that was then,
Give me the race well-won!
Give me the strength and endurance again,
Give me that oar who’s gone!

Sing me a song of an oar who is gone,
Say, could that oar be I?
Winsome and strong he rowed on a day
On Severn ‘neath the sky.

Riggers and slides, catches and drives,
Power tens by eight as one,
All that esprits and camaraderie
And that oar who was me is gone.

But as night follows day and light follows the sun,
The oar who was gives way,
And though strength and endurance of youth may be gone:
Memories forever stay.

Sing me a song of an oar who is gone,
Say, could that oar be I?
Winsome and strong he rowed on a day
On Severn ‘neath the sky.

Gary Arthur Lundeen
NavyLights74-78 Reunion II – 24-26 March 2006

Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Over the Sea to Skye