Top 20 Hottest Male Rowing Athletes of 2012

It’s finally here.
This year the List has been more of a labor of love than ever before–my hectic schedule this fall has had me burning the candle at both ends and the publication of this year’s Top 20 has been pushed back further and further… but I am happy to announce that this year’s List is probably the best ever–! with the inclusion of the #21 poll, more videos, more support from sponsors in and out of the rowing community, and LOTS of new faces on this year’s List (with a few old favorites).  Because in the end, we’re all here because we love rowing, we love rowing athletes, and we want more of both.  It was hard work watching Olympic races and sorting through images of the world’s best rowing athletes to put together this year’s multimedia… but I didn’t mind.  I promise.  I did put together an epic compilation of amazing video footage of the List men from the Games this year, but unfortunately the IOC has blocked the content from being reposted and I cannot share the video with you on YouTube.  However, the movie is available on DropBox:

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This year the List includes athletes from seven of the eight men’s Olympic boat classes, and representing sixteen different countries.  Ages range from 20 to 40.  Great Britain claims the most spots on the List this year with three, while Canada and the  United States each have two.  Ten of the men are making their List debuts this year, eight have appeared on former Lists, and only two of this year’s Top 20 have appeared on every List since 2008.

The Lineup

Without further ado.

20. Kjetil Borch– Norway M2X

Impressive breakout performances this year from a relatively young crew with a win at World Cup 3 and a solid performance which secured a win in the B Final for a 7th place finish at the Olympic Games.  Plus an unmistakable (“signature”) rowing style and that standout classic Norse look.  Gotta love it.

19. Matthijs Vellenga – Netherlands M8+

A favorite of the US Women’s Quad, easily recognized walking around the boat yard and rowing village in his black-rimmed glasses or dancing at beach volleyball games.  Also the only tall dark and handsome member of his crew of blondes, rowing in the four seat.  Strong performances in the 2012 World Cup season, narrowly missed out on a medal in the men’s eight at the Olympic Games, placing 5th.

18.  John Storey – New Zealand M4X

A first time Olympian, rowed bow seat in the Kiwi quad that placed 7th at the Olympic Games.  For some reason Kiwi  boatmate Matthew Trott was reluctant to introduce us in Eton.

17. Rolandas Mascinskas – Lithuania M2X

Young rising talent in a very competitive event, performed strongly for his Olympic debut to place fourth in the men’s double at the Olympic Games.  Looked amazing in the bright yellow and green uniforms for Team Lithuania.  There’s also something exciting about not having a clue how to pronounce someone’s name.

16. Mark Hunter – Great Britain LM2X

A class gentleman and outstanding athlete.  With a rocky 2012 World Cup season, the 2008 Olympic Champion rebounded with a silver medal performance at the Olympic Games. Is a 49er’s fan, and pulls off the 5 o’clock shadow better than anyone else on the lake.

15. Iztok Cop – Slovenia M2X

Absolute legend. 6-time Olympian.  Competed in the men’s double at the 2012 Olympic Games at the age of 40, but doesn’t look a day over 25.  Strong, gutsy racing with outrageous partner, Luka Spik, during the 2012 Olympic Regatta to win bronze.  Retiring this year as the #6 male rower in the world–but will always have a place on any List I ever write if he decides to come out of retirement.

14. Sizwe (Lawrence) Ndlovu – South Africa LM4-

A new addition to the light four that placed 11th at the 2011 World Championships.  Won what was hands-down my favorite race of the 2012 Olympic Regatta.  Amazing come-from-behind victory over the favored Danish boat in the closing meters of the race to win first ever rowing Gold for South Africa.  Beyond epic.  Could not find a sweeter, friendlier crew at the Games.

13. Francis Hegerty – Australia M8+

Stunning.  Two-time Olympian. Placed 6th at the Olympic Games for Australia in the men’s eight.

12. Scott Gault – United States of America M4-

Stroked the men’s four to a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.  Adonis on earth–sometimes, as is also a licensed pilot.  Two-time Olympian, Washington Husky, American hero.

11. Angel Fournier Rodriguez – Cuba M1X

The strong, silent type; ever-improving and was a serious contender for an A final position at this year’s Olympic Games with bronze medals at World Cups 1 & 2 in 2012.  Dominant in the B Final, finishing 7th overall.  End the embargo!

10. Mohamed Sbihi – Great Britain M8+

I first met Moe on a glacier in New Zealand in 2010 and have never forgotten the impression made by his incredible baritone speaking voice.  The largest member of the heralded British men’s eight, easily spotted in the five seat with trademark shaved head and dazzling smile.  The team’s only practicing Muslim, balances elite training with his faith. Won bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games.

9.  Anthony Jacob – Canada M4-

Described by coaches as “the Formula-One car of racers”, rowed in the young Canadaian four that placed ninth at the Olympic Games.  French and Canadian in background, defines the word heartbreaker and could easily transition into a boy band lead following retirement from rowing.  After he graduates from college, of course.

8. André Vonarburg – Switzerland M4X

Longtime fixture of Swiss men’s rowing, four-time Olympian.  Lists “modelling” as a hobby on his World Rowing profile, and rightly-so. Consummate gentleman and wonderful human being, retiring from competitive rowing this year after finishing 12th at the Olympic Games.  One of only two male rowers to have appeared on every List since 2008.

7. Mario Paonessa – Italy M4-

Someone who consistently every time he walked by I asked out loud: “who is that?” And it was always the same person. First-time Olympian rowed two seat in the Italian men’s four that placed eighth at the Olympic Games.

6.  Patrick Loliger Salas – Mexico M1X

¡Hola! Two-time Olympian for Mexico, placed 14th in the single at the 2012 Olympic Games.  Made another top 20 list earlier this year which also included Antonio Banderas… not too shabby.

5.  David Banks – United States of America M8+

Adored without exception by every single member of the USA Women’s Team for his quiet demeanor, genuine kindness, sideways smile, unintelligible mumbling and his being unafraid of 20 women chanting “shirt off!” when he walks in to a room.  Owner of the world’s best set of hamstrings, rowed bow seat in the United States men’s eight that qualified at the Final Olympic Qualifier  in Lucerne and only just missed out on medaling at the Olympic Games, placing fourth.

4. Ondrej Synek – Czech Republic M1X

Double Olympic silver medalist in the men’s single, has enjoyed great success over the past four years with numerous World Cup and World Championship medals including golds at 2012 World Cups 1 & 2.  Rows an orange boat with orange oars, and wins races rowing 3/4 slide.  What else do you need to know?

3.  Rob Gibson – Canada M8+

Tough, strong, handsome and as sweet as they come.  An alternate for the 2008 Canadian Olympic Team, used his experience and talent to claim the number three seat in the men’s eight for Canada, which set a new world record at the second World Cup, and won silver at the Olympic Games.

2. Lassi Karonen – Sweden M1X

2011 #1 – had a career performance at the 2012 Olympic Games with a brave race for medals in the final of the men’s single, only just missing bronze in the closing meters of the race.  It is an absolute pleasure to know him; one of the rowing community’s kindest souls. It’s hard not to love a big Swede with dimples!  One of only two men to have appeared on every List since 2008, and the only one to have always appeared in the top 5.

1. Alex Gregory – Great Britain M4-

A talented and modest oarsman with a beautiful stroke, Alex embodies all that is best about our sport.  What I found most compelling about Alex this year was in speaking to his teammates, how highly they all regard him and how much respect they have for him.  Polite, thoughtful, and completely genuine – after serving as an Olympic alternate in 2008, rowed in the bow seat of the British flagship four that set a new world record at World Cup 2 and won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Year of the Spare

I was amazed and simultaneously devastated by how devastating the 2012 Olympic Alternates were.  On more than one occasion I received nominations (from myself and from others) for athletes who weren’t actually in competition at the Games, but who were there named as spares.  From 2011 favorites like Marcus Bateman (GBR) and Fergus Pragnell (AUS), to feisty contenders like Mike Gennaro (USA) and Steve van Knotsenburg (CAN) and newcomers like Adam Freeman-Pask (GBR) and a Greek guy whose name I can’t find, (among others) I was tempted to make an alternate List this year because of the depth of talent among the 2012 alternates.  I don’t have many rules for the List, but one of them is that you have to be a competitor at the big show at the end of the season, so unfortunately spares are not eligible.  Hopefully we’ll see these names back again next year…

2012 Swag Bag

One of the things I wanted to try for the 2012 List was to get more swag for the guys.  We all work hard–and if I’m going to put your race face in a YouTube video for the whole world to watch you probably deserve more than just [an awesome] t-shirt.  So I reached out to more companies in and out of the rowing community to see if there were others out there who wanted to support this year’s Top 20 with a little extra swag. Of course Sew Sporty are back again with 2012 edition of the signature LIST t-shirts, this year in flashy hi viz green.  I am thrilled to be able to add Hudson Shark and Regatta Sport to the lineup, who are adding matching custom half-zip longsleeve tops so the guys can sport LIST gear even when it’s cold.  Also onboard for the first time are Concept 2 who are donating some more swag and helping to defray the costs of shipping the good stuff out to 20 athletes all over the world–awesome!  Plus a little bonus from Old Spice to round it all out, and it’s like Christmas in October!  A big thanks to everyone who helped to make this year a really special LIST for the guys.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has played some part in putting together this year’s Top 20.  Even if I already thanked you.  Especially Row2k, for patiently and wonderfully capturing the men in their element.  As always, it’s been a trip.  Congrats to all the guys, it’s been great getting to know all of you – and please assure your wives and girlfriends it’s all in good fun.  I look forward to getting you your 2012 List stuff!  If you don’t want your swag sent to your boathouse or rowing federation, email me a shipping address:

Long Live the List Dream,



4 responses to “Top 20 Hottest Male Rowing Athletes of 2012

  1. Pingback: The Wait is Over! |·

  2. Pingback: What News? What’s new online in Rowing | Rowperfect·

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