Racing into their 80s for these rowers
Every year since 2007, the World Rowing Masters Regatta has recognised a group of competitors called the ‘Octogenarians’. These rowers have reached the age 80 and are still competing.
One of this year’s 80 Octogenarians was Carlo Zezza who was representing Cambridge Boat Club, United States. Zezza was racing in six boat classes during the regatta, noting he had “cut down a little bit from old days”. He first raced at the World Masters Regatta in 2000 in Hazewinkel, Belgium and he has been a regular competitor since then along with his wife, Margarita.
Having taken up the sport aged 14, Zezza got his first single scull aged 16 and went on to stroke Harvard University’s men’s eight. He stopped rowing at the age of 21 and didn’t pick up an oar again for 41 years. Zezza returned to the sport again age 62.
Speaking about what motivates him to continue training and competing, Zezza says, “There’s a social aspect obviously in the sport which is very satisfying. Having a wife that is as motivated as I am is very helpful and also simply it is good for you – and it is very pleasing that World Rowing is encouraging older rowers.”
Now at 83 years old. Zezza still trains regularly and competes around the world with Margarita. Asked what his favourite event was, Zezza says, “There’s nothing like the Head of the Charles (in Boston, USA). That’s home waters for us and it really is unique. I’ve been going to the Silver Skiff (Italy) every year since 2004, and I just love it”
Although they live in the United States, Carlo and Margarita keep a pair of single sculls in France making racing at European events such as the Henley Masters Regatta in Great Britain possible. “Henley is a great place to row, it’s very special!”.
Zezza already has the 2020 World Rowing Masters Regatta in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria in his diary saying, “We raced this year in Linz – they had a Euro Masters race – and it was just great. It is a wonderful place to row.”
Speaking at the presentation of the “Octogenerian Diplomas’ at the 2019 World Rowing Masters Regatta, FISA President Jean-Christophe Rolland said, “I am pleased to see such a high number of entries and competitors. Convey the message to the next generation so we can grow the rowing community.”