Flemer, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of California, gave his dad a fine present yesterday. Rowing at a smooth, even pace on a rough course, Flemer took the lead at the 1,000-meter mark and went on to post a comfortable 2.15-second victory over Rob Kaehler of Undine Barge Club in the intermediate men's single at the American Rowing Championship Regatta on the Cooper River in Pennsauken.
There was not a rower or fan in attendance who begrudged Flemer his triumph.
In May, not long after Flemer had returned to Penn AC after working in San Francisco all winter, he got a call from his mother, telling him his dad had cancer.
"As soon as I hung up," Flemer said, "I packed my stuff and went home."
Soon after his father's death, with the blessing of his mom, Flemer headed back east. His plan was to join his Penn AC teammates in Indianapolis at the U.S. nationals. Friends at the Newport Rowing Club offered to take his single shell, a $6,000 Empacher, with them from California to Indianapolis.
"About 50 miles from Indy," Flemer said, "I guess my shell worked loose. It fell off on the interstate, and a semi ran over it. It was totaled."
It also was uninsured.
When Flemer arrived back in Philadelphia without his boat, friend Mary Beth Tietjen, a Vesper rower, offered him the use of the Corinna Rose for his summer racing.
It was in that white boat, a misfit sitting next to all the bright, yellow Penn AC shells, that Flemer won yesterday.
Flemer was not the only Penn AC winner. The club also won the intermediate men's four with coxswain, the senior men's four with coxswain and the intermediate men's straight pair.
The most excited Penn AC winners were Peter Bartle, Craig Urian, Adam Holland and Jack Galloway, who won the junior quad easily in a time of 6 minutes, 14 seconds.
The win provided a clean sweep for Bartle, who will be a senior at Chestnut Hill Academy; Urian, who will be a junior; Holland, a Chestnut Hill grad headed to Harvard, and Galloway, a Shipley Academy grad headed to Florida Institute of Technology. They also won the U.S. national junior world team trials in the straight four and the national title in the four with coxswain.
The Vesper Boat Club starred in women's events yesterday. Tietjen and Sarah Garner won the senior women's double, the club's lightweight eight crew was an open-water winner, and the club took 1-2 in both the senior women's four with coxswain and the senior women's lightweight straight pair.
The Undine Barge Club had three winning boats, with Jon Bidwell capturing the senior men's lightweight single, Liad Meidar and Graham Duncan taking the junior men's double, and Mike Hindery and Keith Robinson finishing first in the men's lightweight double.
Junior men's four with coxswain: 1, Fairmount (Tim Smith, Chuck Lindsey, Jerry Stefan, Gerry Sweeney, coxswain Tim Kain), 7:02.9; 2, Detroit Boat Club, 7:11.3; 3, Crescent Boat Club, 7:12.5.
Junior men's double: 1, Undine Barge Club (Liad Meidar, Graham Duncan), 7:22.0; 2, Sagamore Rowing Club, 7:26.9; 3, Wyandotte Boat Club, 7:56.9.
Senior women's double: 1, Vesper Boat Club (Sarah Garner, M. B. Tietjen), 7:22.9; 2, Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club, 7:30.9; 3, Riverside Boat Club/ Cincinnati, 7:33.3.
Intermediate men's lightweight eight: 1, Thames River Sculls (Vince Alvarez, Carl Gelertson, Gregg Hartsuff, John Cullicott, Mark Keilman, Tom Filiberto, Jim Stuckey, Chris Marino, coxswain Carolyn Moss), 6:04.2; 2, Bachelors Barge Club "A", 6:08.2; 3, Riverside Boat Club, 6:09.3.
Junior women's four with coxswain: 1, Junior National Women's Team "A" (Tracy Taylor, Stephanie Gregg, Christine Lindeman, Ardath White, coxswain Jessica Roberts), 7:54.1; 2, Potomac Boat Club, 8:00.2; 3, Ecorse Rowing Club, 8:09.4.
Senior men's double: 1, New York AC (Kurt Teske, Angelo Rubbo), 6:34.6; 2, Thames River Sculls, 6:35.6; 3, Pioneer Valley, 6:38.1.
Junior men's single: 1, Narragansett Boat Club (Erik Moser), 7:31.0; 2, Phillips Academy (Chris Schulten), 7:36.5; 3, Undine Barge Club (Ben Ryan), 7:55.6.
Junior men's four with coxswain: 1, Wyandotte Boat Club (Andy Zulewski, Chris Costis, Jerrod Kowalewski, Chris Marmion, coxswain John Borowic), 6:58.6; 2, Fairmount Rowing Association, 6:59.8; 3, Brigantine Rowing Club, 7:08.1.
Intermediate men's lightweight single: 1, Potomac Boat Club (Kevin Bedell), 7:05.3; 2, Undine Barge Club (Rob Ezold), 7:07.7; 3, New York AC (Keith Walter), 7:10.8.
Intermediate men's four with coxswain: 1, Penn AC "B" (Steve Wanner, Joe Gregorovich, Alexander Packard, Roman Horoszewski, coxswain Ted Swanson), 6:15.9; 2, Penn AC "A", 6:19.3; 3, New York AC, 6:23.4.
Intermediate men's single: 1, Penn AC (Ross Flemer), 6:56.7; 2, Undine Barge Club (Rob Kaehler), 6:58.9; 3, Pioneer Valley (Robert White), 7:03.4.
Senior women's lightweight eight: 1, Vesper Boat Club (Andi Gray, Vicki Scott, Ann Tierney, Chieko Kakihana, Nancy Sovik, J. Bellantoni, Ali Overy, Meg Allen, coxswain Mike O'Gorman), 6:38.6; 2, Pioneer Valley, 6:52.1; 3, Potomac Boat Club, 6:57.4.
Junior men's quad: 1, Penn AC (Peter Bartle, Craig Urian, Adam Holland, Jack Galloway), 6:14.0; 2, SAG/NBC, 6:17.2; 3, Undine Barge Club, 6:20.5.
Senior women's four with coxswain: 1, Vesper Boat Club "A" (M. B. Tietjen, Becky Meti, Steph Heinbach, Liz Behrens, coxswain Melissa Hall), 7:29.6; 2, Vesper Boat Club "B", 7:47.0; 3, Riverside Boat Club, 7:50.7.
Senior men's lightweight single: 1, Undine Barge Club (Jon Bidwell), 7:14.6; 2, Bachelors Barge Club (Kevin St. Clair), 7:19.4; 3, Potomac Boat Club (Kevin Bedell), 7:20.1.
Intermediate men's lightweight double: 1, Undine Barge Club "B" (Mike Hindery, Keith Robinson), 6:43.9; 2, Detroit Boat Club, 6:46.9; 3. Potomac Boat Club, 6:50.8.
Intermediate men's straight pair: 1, Penn AC "B" (Martin Crew, Joe Gregerovich), 6:54.2; 2, New York AC, 6:56.7; 3. Penn AC "C", 6:57.3.
Senior women's lightweight straight pair: 1, Vesper Boat Club "B" (Ali Overy, Sue Moslow), 8:00.2; 2, Vesper Boat Club "C", 8:05.5; 3, Pioneer Valley "A", 8:08.1.
Intermediate men's quad: 1, Pioneer Valley (Ed Kupa, John Lindberg, Don Olsen, Robert White), 6:03.8; 2, Penn AC, 6:06.5; 3, Thames River Sculls, 6:06.7.
Senior men's four with coxswain: 1, Penn AC "B" (William Porter, Sean Hall, Pat Flood, Tom Meier, coxswain Walter Mullen), 6:46.2; 2, Penn AC "A", 6:18.6; 3, Vesper Boat Club, 6:29.8.
Senior men's lightweight eight: 1, Bachelors Barge Club "A" (Chris Kerber, Al Stefan, Dave Borchers, Dale Hurley, Ed Grose, Jeff Barrett, Adam Carpenter, Lee Alison, coxswain Ann Dollarton), 6:28.8; 2, Thames River Sculls, 6:30.0; 3, Riverside Boat Club, 6:36.5.