Friday, June 24, 2011

OTW with Matt Miller, Part IV: Qualifying the Four – Update from Henley

The boat tents at Henley, from the bridge (Photo: Matt Miller)
Good news for Virginia from Henley, as the four has successfully qualified for the Prince Albert Challenge Cup, following their time trial earlier today. While the four had other concerns, Matt and the eight were training both on land and on the water. Here's Matt's update from the shores of the Thames:

There are new faces around the boat tents and on the course every day as we approach dual races starting Wednesday. Friday was a taste of official racing for the qualifying time trials. The eight practiced twice as part of the training program, while the four went out for a course walk-through in preparation for their 5:07 PM time trial.

The UVa men's four after qualifying (Photo: Matt Miller)
A very kind Virginia Tech grad with a house overlooking the finishing area and docks introduced himself earlier in the week. So far from home, traditional sports rivalries are forgotten and fellow Virginians are close friends. Today he invited the eight to watch the qualifying races from his second story balcony. Members of the eight watched with a great view of the varsity four’s commanding performance. They passed University of London’s ‘B’ boat in the first 1000m and successfully navigated swirling winds on their way to qualifying for the event. Virginia was the last of six alphabetically-listed qualifiers to be announced; a result that sent 19 other crews home. The race left some room for improvement and areas of focus for the next few days, but the boat was generally excited to have extended their season by at least five days.

The UVa eight trains on land near the boat tents (Photo: Matt Miller)
Afterward, both boats met at Leander Club for a BBQ dinner of hamburgers, chicken, sausage and pork. The Leander guys I’ve seen on the Thames all week look even bigger in person. They left me feeling short. After seeing Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave around the boat tents Friday, I wonder whether one of these Leander rowers is the next big star of the rowing world. -MM

The UVa men will continue to train through the weekend, and get more familiar with the course and the landmarks. One thing that can be tricky at Henley, especially in your first experience of the regatta, is learning where you are on the course well enough to manage your moves and physiology to the best of your ability. While names like 'The Barrier' conjure up grandiose images, 'The Barrier' itself is actually glorified dividing wall, roughly four feet in height, which can be easy to miss from the boat. However, on such a long course (2112 'metres' to be exact), it pays to know where you are. Head Coach Frank Biller and the UVa squad will have this in mind as the Cavs take to the water over the final days of preparation.

Upcoming: RR Picks and Predictions for Henley Royal Regatta

-RR

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