In the world of rowing's most prestigious regatta, three South Jersey residents feel right at home.
Coxswain Seamus Labrum and rowers Justin Ebert and Kyle Erlandson are competing this week in the Henley Royal Regatta in England.
Labrum is a graduate of Holy Spirit High School and the University of Washington. Ebert, a graduate of Egg Harbor Township High, will be a junior at Grand Valley State in the fall. Erlandson, also an Egg Harbor graduate, will be a junior at Northeastern.
The regatta, which was first held in 1839, began Wednesday and continues through Sunday in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England.
On Wednesday, Ebert's boat did not make the final in the Temple Challenge Cup for varsity eights. Erlandson will be in one of two Northeastern eights in Friday's Ladies' Challenge Plate, and Labrum's open eight will race in Saturday's semifinals of the Grand Challenge Cup.
Though this year's regatta is foremost on his mind, it won't be the first overseas excursion for Labrum. He competed in the Henley Regatta in 2010 when the Washington freshman eight won the Temple Challenge Cup.
This time, however, Labrum will have a cheering section along the River Thames.
"We are all going to be there, including my daughter, who is able to travel with us this time," said Bill Labrum, Seamus' father.
"We are anxious to see the final outcome because there are only three entries. We are biting our nails."
Though Ebert and Erlandson will be rowing in different boats, they are accustomed to the elevated level of competition from their high school days.
According to Bob Kerstetter, the head coach of Egg Harbor's crew team, the rowers are expert athletes.
"They were consummate coach's athletes," Kerstetter said. "They trained above and beyond and achieved national championships while at Egg Harbor. It sounds like a simplistic story, but between the two of them they won 18 major regattas in two years."
Mick Ebert, Justin's father, will be the only parent of the three rowers unable to attend the regatta. Plagued by a poor back, Mick Ebert avoids long flights. So he can only send his praise across the ocean.
Justin "was one of the most decorated athletes for his stint" at Egg Harbor, Mick Ebert said. "He has that purpose and focus that's needed to succeed in this sport."