Boraska first competed on the international scene in 1993 at the World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic. At that time, he didn’t know that he would spend 15 years competing at the elite international level. Now retired from elite rowing, Boraska is making his first appearance at the World Rowing Masters Regatta, currently taking place in Bled, Slovenia. Boraska says with a smile, he’s “finally old enough”. 

Boraska was first entered to race a masters regatta in 2007 in Zagreb, Croatia. He was 37 and a B category masters, but was still a competitive rower on the Croatian national team. “The guys who are masters in Croatia said, ‘come on, you shouldn’t do it. You are too young, you are too fit’. I scratched my entry for the single sculls and I waited all the way until this year, yeah ten years later,” Boraska says.

But in those ten years, he has barely put down the oar. “I think it was never more than a few weeks that I was without an oar. Even when I stopped rowing for the national team, I always trained. Early morning, late afternoons, whatever. And now I find it just natural to wake up a bit earlier and do a training session,” he says.

A regular competitor at the World Rowing Coastal Championships, Boraska says coastal rowing is a natural transition for a coastal-born Croatian. He also takes the opportunity to race in national events in Croatia and other events around Europe and around the world. The Masters, he says, is the most fun event. “It’s a different feel. No stress. When I am on the start, I don’t feel any pressure.” No pressure, though, doesn’t mean it’s not competitive. “I see a lot of crews who are really, really fast, even for senior standards. There are really lots of crews that take it very seriously and if I want to beat them, I need to take my rowing more seriously.”

Boraska has used Bled as a chance to reconnect with people he had not seen in years. The first race in a double was the first time he had ever rowed together with his double’s partner. After a 4th place finish, Boraska says they will step up their training for next year. “I am training for the New York Marathon this year, so I do more running than rowing. Next year I will have more rowing, definitely,” Boraska says.

As he gets closers to 50 years old, Boraska does not seem to be slowing down, or letting go of the oar and says it has been helped by the positive relationship he has maintained with rowing.

“I know many people who really had a tough time, many, many more hours [of training] than I did. In Croatia, we don’t have as many training hours as other national teams. I don’t feel burned out, so that’s one of the biggest reasons [I’ve stayed involoved]. Nobody is as fit as before, but considering our age, I think we’re in pretty good shape,” he laughs.

With five races to do this weekend, Boraska is among the thousands of masters rowers who continue to train and stay active even into their eighties. The atmosphere at the masters regatta is full of energy and good competitive spirit.

Boraska sees rowing as keeping his body healthy, noting that his back hurt more when he stopped rowing to train for other sports. “I would say that rowing actually helps your body, helps the muscles and helps your back to have better strength and actually to have less pain than ordinary people who are spending more hours sitting working. They probably have more back pains than the people you see here rowing at the masters regatta.”

Boraska sees all types of rowing as the perfect way to promote a healthy way of life. And, he says, he’ll be back next year.