Friends Row On After Teammate’s Death, Leaving One Seat Empty

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They called on their own the Four Horsemen.

For just about 20 several years, Charlie Hamlin, Fred Schoch, Roger Borggaard and Chuck Pieper rowed collectively and grew to become good friends as they dominated races at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, just one of the world’s leading rowing competitions.

The men started off rowing as a crew in their 50s. Tall and powerfully designed, they had been achieved in the sport — significantly Mr. Hamlin, who represented the United States in the 1968 Olympics and at the Globe Rowing Championships in 1969 and 1970.

The nickname was intended to be a joke. But to other rowers, the sight of the 4 Horsemen approaching the docks frequently signaled specific doom on the drinking water.

Around the years, the males put initial consistently in their age team at the Head of the Charles, normally competing in an 8-individual boat with four other rowers. They also dominated in a 4-human being boat at nationwide and international championship races.

“We started knocking it off,” Mr. Borggaard, 76, explained. “We ended up constantly in the hunt.”

On Sunday, the staff will return to the Head of the Charles, but they do not expect to win this year. Only a few of the horsemen will contend.

Mr. Hamlin, 74, died on Might 24, considerably less than a 12 months following he realized he experienced Alzheimer’s illness.

Mr. Borggaard, Mr. Schoch and Mr. Pieper will leave a single seat vacant for Mr. Hamlin. In his position will be a plastic Viking hat they had provided to him as a reward when he moved to Washington State in 2015.

Mr. Schoch reported the men ended up contacting it a “row by,” equivalent to a “fly by” of the “missing man” development carried out by armed forces pilots to commemorate the dead.

“We’re family members — there is no other way to put it,” stated Mr. Schoch, who is 71 and the executive director of the Head of the Charles Regatta. “We’re seriously like brothers.”

Mr. Hamlin grew up in Chaumont, N.Y., and put in summers sailing on Lake Ontario. He began rowing in 1966 for the duration of his 1st calendar year at Harvard.

He raced in the Summer months Olympics in Mexico Metropolis in 1968 and continued to row competitively as he went to Harvard Organization University, in which he fulfilled Mr. Pieper.

Both equally of them had married young and bonded around elevating their family members as they moved up in the small business planet.

Soon after Mr. Hamlin divorced his very first wife in 2000, he moved to England, wherever he joined the Upper Thames Rowing Club and raced all in the course of Europe, racking up medals.

He returned to Boston around 2004 and reunited with Mr. Pieper. Shortly, they teamed up with Mr. Borggaard and Mr. Schoch, who experienced fulfilled at the Cambridge Boat Club and had been rowing alongside one another.

The gentlemen would fulfill on the h2o each morning at 6. In the winter, they properly trained indoors. Mr. Hamlin started off a business with Mr. Borggaard and Mr. Pieper, Cambridge H2o Technology, a start out-up that they ultimately marketed in 2012.

Off the drinking water, Mr. Hamlin was peaceful, keen to support and prone to singing tracks from musicals like “The Audio Man” and “Oklahoma!” When he was in a boat, he was fiercely competitive and would scream at his flagging teammates in the very last stretch of the race, from time to time cursing.

“You’d be canine-drained and he’d scream: ‘Let’s go! Enable it rip!’” recalled Mr. Borggaard. “Just strength coming out of him to make the rest of us get carried away with the moment and pull harder.”

In 2015, Mr. Hamlin moved to Washington Point out with his next spouse, Ellen Kennelly, an artist and rower whom he experienced satisfied at the Cambridge Boat Club. But he returned every single 12 months to race in the Head of the Charles. In 2018, Mr. Hamlin experienced a coronary heart assault although rowing in Lake Whatcom, north of Seattle. The health professionals warned him to slow down, but he refused.

“There was not any hesitation,” Mr. Hamlin instructed Row2K in 2018. “I’m not frustrated. I’m not worried. It happened. I built it by and back again to lifestyle as normal.”

In 2019, the foursome raced once more in the regatta and arrived in 1st position between rowers 70 years and older. They did not know it at the time, but it was the last time they would contend with each other in the race.

In 2020, the regatta was canceled due to the fact of the pandemic. That same year, Mr. Hamlin and his wife realized that he was turning out to be far more and far more forgetful.

“He was undertaking so lots of items in daily life that it was extremely typical for him to hurry out the doorway with no his laptop or computer,” Ms. Kennelly, 58, stated.

But then the signs that something was improper turned additional obvious.

He experienced started battling with quantities, an alarming improvement for a previous account government. He could not don’t forget how to strap down a boat.

When the physicians advised Mr. Hamlin that he experienced Alzheimer’s about Labor Working day final calendar year, he commenced to assume about how he wanted to spend the rest of his lifetime, Ms. Kennelly stated.

Mainly because of the pandemic, he was not able to go to his good friends overseas, but he was decided to shell out time with his two sons and grandchildren — and his most effective buddies in New England.

In April, Mr. Hamlin returned to Boston for 1 past row on the Charles. As they prepared to launch into the river, somebody handed Mr. Hamlin an oar.

Mr. Schoch recalled the baffled glance on Mr. Hamlin’s experience.

“What am I intended to do with this?” Mr. Hamlin stated.

It was a horrifying minute that compelled his friends to realize how immediately the sickness experienced progressed.

Fortunately, the instant passed promptly, Mr. Schoch stated.

“As soon as he got in the boat he knew what to do,” he stated. “He fell in proper absent once he had his mates to adhere to.”