As crew members of the MMA rowing teams stood facing the waterfront of SUNY Maritime College, the scene couldn’t have been more different from the one they left behind in Castine.
To the west, the towering skyline of New York City. In the water, teams from SUNY, Massachusetts Maritime, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Merchant Marine academies, practicing for races about to commence, coxswains shouting to their crews to quicken the pace.
The two MMA teams were all MUGs (Midshipmen Under Guidance), some of whom had never rowed before, volunteering just two weeks earlier to train for the rowing and seamanship George C. Previll Memorial Inaugural Inter-Academy Monomoy Challenge, hosted by SUNY Maritime.
There was one unspoken question in each of their minds.
Lifeboat races between maritime academies were common in the 1950s and ’60s. But in recent years, none had been held, with the exception of an annual competition between Kings Point and SUNY Maritime, sponsored by the Marine Society of the City of New York.
Members of the Society resolved to bring back the inter-academy races this year. “When they contacted us,” says Dean of Maritime Training and Commandant Nathan Gandy ’92, “I looked at it as an opportunity for engagement with the other schools and said, ‘We’ll absolutely do it.’ Although I really didn’t know what ‘it’ was in the very beginning.”
The task of organizing and training MMA teams was given to Lieutenants Lonnie Christian and Kyle Willette, company officers for the regiment who put out the call for “motivated MUGs” to volunteer on Day 5 of RPT (regimental preparatory training)....Read More