I think it’s fitting that I am sitting here, writing about a friend, and musing over life through words. Ed Winchester, my editor at Rowing magazine for over 8 years, passed away of natural causes at 49 years old on Wednesday the 22nd, leaving us too soon. And yes, I am grieving. At 50 I am realizing that you can come to take things for granted like a friend always being there. No, we weren’t close… we didn’t share birthday parties, or kids being born, but we shared a friendship forged in something bigger than both of us. Ed felt what I did- that the sport of the rowing gets in your blood and won’t let go, and the only thing to do is to try and share that passion with others. What better than to give back?
His passion was evident in every editorial that started each issue of Rowing magazine. Those pieces were honest, straight to the point, and written in a way that inspired the reader to look beyond their place on the river. Whether he knew it or not, he influenced much of what I have become as a writer, as well as The Cox Guide as a whole. With a mop of blond hair and an easy smile that carried through all the many emails, we exchanged over the years, his positive and easy way inspired confidence in this young writer, despite me being the older one in age. For eight years he humored me with relentless positivism despite my missed deadlines and articles that needed the edges smoothed over. He never once offered anything less than that he loved what I had sent in, even if I thought it was phoned in (a phrase the meaning of which he taught me over a good laugh). As the Head of the Charles approached each year he’d reach out to see if I was headed to Boston so we could meet up in person, and share his excitement for getting back in a boat with his mates and giving everyone a run for their money. We never managed to connect in Boston, for which I now will forever regret, but I will think of him whenever I think of the Charles.
I believe that although Ed didn’t achieve every dream he had behind an oar, he made up for it in spades in everything else he did for the sport. He looked forward and brought the rest of us along with him. I’ll remember the words he put to print in his own voice and those written about him as a World Champion and Olympic athlete, editor, husband, father… friend. I’ll continue to be inspired by him, and reach for things I am not sure are possible. And most of all I won’t take for granted the good that is there in front of me. Smooth waters, Ed, we love you.