In the bow seat of the winning United States boat sat Bryan Volpenhein. This was Volpenhein’s second year on the US national team. In his first year he had become a World Champion in the eight and the exact same line up was racing at St Catharines.

Volpenhein chose the 1999 race because it “was the most fun of the races I’ve had, because we got passed and then came back. That group of guys had a strong bond and this was our peak race. I’ve watched it a lot.”

Here are Volpenhein’s thoughts while watching the 1999 World Rowing Championships men’s eight final.

The start
“Holy crap that is a strong head wind and it’s really choppy. I was also thinking about my blade because the year before I’d caught a digger off the line."

200 – 300m
“Wanting to hard and get out as far ahead as possible and control the race. We knew the British were strong in a head wind and were doing well that year especially with (Tim) Foster in the boat. I was then thinking, ‘this is going to be a strong wind and thinking Romania were still on hand and up there even though they had a hard lane. Two-man Bob (Kaehler) was always yelling at me to keep the boat up and off his side so I was also thinking about that.”

“We took a big move at the 1000, I don’t remember the call. At that point it was just routine for us. Every time we raced Mike (coach, Mike Teti) would use some kind of emotion (as motivation). In 1998 he said, ‘When you hear the crowd yell ‘Deutschland’, it means ‘go USA’.’”
At about the 1300m mark the leading Americans were overtaken by Great Britain.

“This was our big move. There was a lot of anticipation for the last move. I could feel the stern pair move and I thought, ‘time to go.’
Mike’s call had been not to embarrass our mothers. Chip (coxswain Pete Cipollone) was calling out ‘they’re moving’. The whole time we expected that (from the British). When they overtook us it was like we were taking a breath and then we knew we’d dig deep. So it was like we were breathing and waiting.

Mike had given us a big speech about our whole family being there and not to embarrass them. ‘I want the third move (at the 1500m mark) to be for your Mom.’ It turned out every single one of our mothers were there. It was very emotional.”

The United States pulled back into the lead at the 1600m mark.

Finish of the race
“I don’t remember hearing much. I was just thinking about how much more we could pile on and try to pile on more distance between us and the next crew.”

After the finish line
“I remember falling down, but I was really pumped. I couldn’t believe that we’d repeated the win. I felt very enamoured with the whole crew and what we were able to do.” 

After the race
“Dan Topolski (race commentator) says about our finish, ‘Gone is the technique but, boy, what power there.’ That (statement) makes me so angry. That’s why I like that race - because of the technique. Power to me is technique. If you are able to put in the power at this part of the race then that’s technique.”

In 2013 Volpenhein is still involved in rowing. After competing at the 2008 Olympic Games, Volpenhein retired from elite rowing and got into coaching almost immediately. He began with lightweights in Seattle. This led Volpenhein to coaching the lightweight men’s four at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He was then hired as the US men’s head coach (along with Luke McGee) in charge of the men’s four.