December 8, 2017
Sculling Through The Dark
Ever do something so often you feel like you could ‘do it with your eyes closed’? For Howard Ruby, that ability quickly and terrifyingly became a permanent necessity.
Rowing is hard enough when you can see everything. Ruby, now 82 years old, recently sculled 5,000m to cross the finish line of the 2017 Head of the Marina Regatta, having lost his sight.
Ruby has accomplished more in his life than the average individual. At the age of five, Ruby says he was already “… an entrepreneur… running lemonade stands, delivering the newspaper, and cutting lawns.” He eventually joined the Navy, traveled the world, started a real estate partnership, went to college and graduated with a job building local apartments before joining a large California corporation.
Ruby’s eyesight was slowly failing him.
Until February of this year, Ruby had held the title of Chairman of Oakwood Worldwide Housing for 57 years. Now Ruby resides in California where “Fitness is [his] retirement.”
While accomplishing all this Ruby’s eyesight was slowly failing him. In a feature story for Fortune magazine written by Dinah Eng, Ruby recalls being 65 when he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, also known as “tunnel vision.”
As the disease got progressively worse, and prevented Ruby from participating in his favorite past times such as skiing, golfing, and fly-fishing, rather than despair Ruby instead adapted to a new lifestyle.
“You make do” says Ruby. Instead of retiring, Ruby kept working. “Everybody has medical issues as they age. Some have it a lot worse than I do. I was not going to become a couch potato.”
Ruby rows six days a week, for two hours a day.
After purchasing a first rowing machine, ruby fell in love with the sport for its many benefits. In particular weight loss and the exceptional health benefits, as well as the thrill.
Ruby rows six days a week, for two hours a day. The Head of the Marina was Ruby’s first regatta to which he “brought [his] own cheering section” to motivate him. “It was a thrilling moment crossing the starting line. The race was like nothing else in my life.”
With the guidance of his own steering equipment and a launch guide, Ruby met his goals to “not fall in the water” and cross the finish line. He finished in just over 32 minutes.
In the interview with Fortune, Ruby said that in life you have to “… have four eyes that go around your head. Look out for the competition at every turn and observe what’s happening around you. You have to be mindful of changes…” How appropriate then that he discovered rowing.
Ruby along with his training partner Alzbeta “Liz” Lorinczova now plans to race 850m as a double at the Long Beach Christmas Regatta in Long Beach, CA.
In response/reflection of Rowing Blind Toward a Healthy Old Age by Ed Moran
All images provided by Howard Ruby.