Like so many people in the sport, Amherst College Crew Team Head Coach Bill Stekl’s first exposure to Pocock shells came as an athlete. “It was 1975 when I first stepped into one as a novice oarsman” Coach Stekl remembers. “I was brimming with excitement about my new found sport, and the racing shell, made from Northwest Cedar back then, was sleek and exotic if not a little intimidating. Just a few weeks later I won my first race in that Pocock, at the inaugural Head of the Connecticut Regatta.”
Fast forward to 1984, when Coach Stekl took the helm of Amherst College Crew in Amherst, MA. As a coach, Pocock Shells were not on his radar when considering boat purchases. However, thanks to a generous alumni’s boat purchase, in 2003 a modern Pocock made its way into the Amherst boathouse.
“It didn’t take me long to see that the Hypercarbon K4+ was a cut above the boats from regional manufactures that hung from our racks. I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the quality and speed of our new Pocock. From that first alumni donation, we have placed orders for nine additional Pocock fours and three eights.”
“At first glance, it would seem that purchasing a product manufactured three thousand miles away would be a risk, particularly when we could invest in a manufacturer that exists only a 100 miles away. However, this fear was unfounded. The Pococks that we own have demonstrated to be exceptionally durable in every aspect including the hulls and hardware. Our oldest boat in the fleet is eleven years old and it remains pristine and competitive because they don’t wear out. Also, there is no grief about not receiving parts quickly. They can be in my hands in a day if necessary.”
Amherst College is one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the nation, and their crew team has emerged as one of the top small college programs in New England. Coach Stekl credits their success to a team culture that reflects the need to be diligent, enduring, cerebral and compassionate. Their roster of 50 men and women is diverse, with athletes from Russia, Iceland, South America, Africa and Asia representing the white and purple in recent years.
“Pocock has been a perfect fit for our program, because the quality of the product is congruent with the expectations of our team. We demand a significant contribution from our athletes and our equipment. My athletes and Pocock Racing Shells have never let me down.”