Guerneville, CA

Last night I joined Tom Lynch and a cacophony of Russians for dinner in Guerneville by (appropriately enough) Russian River to celebrate Ivan Rezvoy’s 50th birthday. Tom warned me that novices at Russian get-togethers are often misled by the din of raised voices into expecting a full-scale fight to break out at any moment. He assured me that this decibel level is quite normal and nothing to worry about.

There was a silent guest at the table too, in spirit if not in body. There was much talk about ocean rowing legend Peter Bird. Very few ocean rowers are lost at sea. Peter was one of the unlucky ones. He disappeared on the Pacific in June 1996, 69 days after he set out from Russia. (Info courtesy of the ORS.)

Last night I met two of his staunchest supporters and guardians of his legacy. Tom Lynch and Ivan Rezvoy were both great friends of Peter’s, and for the last 20 years have continued to take an active interest in ocean rowing. The ORS website, the definitive source of all ocean rowing statistics, is sponsored by Tom.

Ivan is the younger brother of another ocean rowing legend, Pavel Rezvoy, and uncle to another ocean rower, Teddy Rezvoy. The connections go deeper than that – Tom met his Russian wife, Sveta, through ocean rowing – they were introduced by the wife of Kenneth Crutchlow of the ORS.

‘It will never work out,’ Ken said of the blind date, in one of his characteristic voice-of-doom pronouncements. Thankfully for all concerned, they are proving him wrong, and gorgeous three-year-old Katya is the happy result.

Peter Bird will be remembered mostly for his persistence: he took 294 days to row from San Francisco to Australia, and had made 4 attempts on the north Pacific before his last ever row. But Tom and Sveta remember him as Peter the eccentric and charismatic man who indirectly brought them together.

Back row L to R: Tom Lynch, Ivan, Eve, Layma
Front row L to R: me, Sveta, Masha, Katya
Photo taken by Tom’s wife, Sveta

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