Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, Part 4 of 6: The Chariots

The fourth installment of the six-part series by the University of Oxford has been released, this one covering the technology behind the boats used in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Here, the brains behind the Oxford flotilla discuss the ways that modern technology has affected racing, and the particular issues that rowers face on the Thames (as well as hint at how they seek to resolve those issues, employing some know-how from experience with Formula 1). Nearly all of the work that riggers do is behind the scenes, but every rower who has ever raced can attest to the importance of rigging, and appreciate the feeling of a finely tuned boat.

Follow these links to view Parts 1, 2, and 3, which introduce the Boat Race, cover student life as an OUBC oarsman, and outline the role of the coxswain on the complicated Tideway course. The 158th Boat Race will take place on 7 April, 2012. For more information, please visit the official website of the Boat Race.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Video of the Week: Murray v. Drysdale in the M1x on Karapiro

There he is again! Eric Murray is having an epic offseason following an even better season (and before what could be his best season yet), jumping into the men's single and edging reigning world champion Mahé Drysdale by roughly three feet to take bragging rights for winter training on Lake Karapiro. The footage comes from the North Island Club Championships, courtesy of johnrothery's YouTube Channel. While we're sure Murray enjoyed this, we're pretty certain that he'll be sticking to the pair–a crew that has been so dominant that we are seeing a reshuffling of the GB Rowing squad's priorities in the build-up to 2012 (as is discussed in today's Rowing News eNewsletter).

And don't forget to check out an interview with Eric Murray regarding his recent 60-minute performance in the current issue of Rowing News magazine!

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated), or get in touch via our Facebook page.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

From the Press Room at RR: The 2011 Northwest Region Rowing Awards

Source: Press Release Submitted by Bill Zack, Acting Secretary, Northwest Rowing Council

The Northwest Rowing Council is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2011 Northwest Region Rowing Awards. The awards are presented by Pocock Racing Shells with special thanks to the Lake Washington Rowing Club. The Northwest Rowing Awards Reception will take place on Saturday, February 4, 2012 at the Lake Washington Rowing Club starting at 6:30 PM.

2011 Northwest Region Coach of the Year - Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan is the head coach of the University of Washington men’s rowing team. Under Coach Callahan’s guidance, the Huskies had an outstanding 2011 season. At the Pac-10 championships the University of Washington won the team points trophy as well as winning the varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four titles while the freshman / novice eight won the silver medals. Coach Callahan was named the 2011 Pac-10 coach of the year. At the IRA championships, UW won the Ten Eyck Cup team points title and individual titles in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, and open four events along with a silver medal for the freshmen crew. Coach Callahan went on to coach the United States straight four at the World Rowing Under – 23 Championships.

2011 Northwest Region Athlete/Crew of the Year - Nancy Miles; University of Washington Men’s Rowing Team

Nancy Miles rowed for the Seattle Rowing Center in 2011 and entered her first sculling races during the spring racing season. She won the gold medal in the single at the USRowing Northwest District Championships. At the USRowing Youth National Championships she won the bronze medal in the single. Nancy went on to represent the United States at the World Rowing Junior Championships in the quadruple sculls event. She and her teammates placed fourth, the highest finish ever for the United States in that event. Nancy is now a freshman at Stanford University.

The University of Washington men’s rowing team had a phenomenal year in 2011. At the Pac-10 championships the University of Washington men won the team points trophy as well as winning the varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four titles while the freshman / novice eight won the silver medals. Four members of the team were named all-Pac-10. Sixteen of the Husky student-athletes were selected to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team. At the IRA championships, UW won the Ten Eyck Cup team points title and individual titles in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, and open four events. The freshmen eight won the silver medals. Numerous Washington oarsmen raced during the summer on the World Cup circuit as well as at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships and the Pan American Games. Three UW rowers were in the United States eight that won the gold medal at the U-23 Championships.

2011 Northwest Region Contributors of the Year - Bob Cummins, Anna Cummins, and Karen Calara

Bob and Anna Cummins of Cummins Chiropractic and Karen Calara of The Next Step Physical Therapy are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the rowing community in the Pacific Northwest. They give willingly of their time to help all levels of the rowing community; elite, masters, juniors, and recreational. They have instructed and consulted on a wide range of topics, including health and wellness for rowers, stretching, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. They set a shining example of the spirit of cooperation in the sport of rowing throughout the Northwest Region.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Olympic Games Six Months Away Today

Millenium Bridge to St. Paul's, London (Photo: © B. Kitch)
As has been widely observed in rowing circles, particularly in the UK, this date marks exactly six months until the Olympic Games begin in London. Here in the U.S., things remain clear–the first mission of the U.S. men's team will be to qualify the eight for London, and given the talent level in the sweep group right now, we are backing them to do just that. Men's eight coach Mike Teti has mastered the double-taper before, having coached extremely successful U23 boats (most notably last year's world's best time-setting eight), made up of athletes who raced at the IRA regatta at roughly the same time as the qualification regatta will take place this spring. We're expecting him to produce more of the same as he guides his crew through the summer en route to London.

And speaking of London, the BBC's Matthew Pinsent has been on an Olympic tour of late, providing photos not only of London venues that are currently under construction, but also proposed venues in Rio, for the 2016 Games (including this shot from high above the city), via his Twitter feed. During the trip, Pinsent also spent time in the favelas surrounding Rio, meeting with established and aspiring Brazilian athletes along the way (including 2011 World Champ in the LW1x, Fabiana Beltrame). While London no doubt holds a special place in his heart, Pinsent indicated while on tour that the Olympic rowing course in Rio would be the most beautiful rowing venue in the history of the Games.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's remember that London is just around the corner, and things on the ground appear to be coming together nicely as the world prepares to come together this July. As Pinsent notes in a recent post, the Olympic village in London will provide a view of the city–perhaps the first time that this has been the case. Here's hoping for great weather and excellent conditions at Dorney Lake!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sneak Peek: The February 2012 Issue of Rowing News Goes to Press!

The first issue of Volume 19 of Rowing News is on its way, and we're getting 2012 started right with a ton of content, including interviews with Mike Teti (discussing the progress at the men's eight camp at CRC), Meghan O'Leary (UVa multisport varsity athlete, who began rowing in 2010 and is now training at the Olympic selection camp), Tom Paradiso (Beijing Olympian and four-time world medalist) on coaching the start sequence, Canadian Olympian Jason Dorland on his new book, Chariots and Horses, and Eric Murray of Rowing New Zealand (see video above) along with Peter Dreissigacker and Meredith Haff of Concept2 regarding Eric's recent 60-minute world record on the new C2 Dynamic erg(o). Combine all this with a new 'Crossing the Line' column with Josh Crosby, and features about the history of rowing technology, and a fantastic piece with Malta Boat Club's Fred Duling by writer Jen Whiting, and you've got a great start to an Olympic year.

Thanks to @JLRowing and @Concept2 for sending the video along via Twitter!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Video of the Week: Lake Union and the History of Rowing in the United States

This week's video covers the history of Seattle's Lake Union, the waters of which served as the stage for the first ever meeting between George Pocock and legendary University of Washington coach Hiram Conibear (after whom the new UW boathouse is named). Not only was this a fortuitous and fruitful meeting for both parties, but also it served as a seminal moment in the development of intercollegiate racing on the West Coast, and beyond. Thanks to RR reader Frederick Levy for sending the video along!

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated), or get in touch via our Facebook page.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Coaches' Corner: Setting Goals, Part 2

Evening light, Castrelo de Miño, Galicia, Spain (Photo: © B. Kitch) 
It is hard to get around the reality that world records are broken incrementally–people seem to rise to specific numbers based on a previous 'best' performance. Rarely are world records shattered in this day and age. The main reason for this seems to be that we are pushing right up against the physical limits of the human body at this point in the evolution of homo sapiens; however, part of it is undoubtedly psychological. How often does an elite athlete train hard enough to break an existing record without knowing what that record is? It is very rare that an elite talent can train and race in a vacuum, without knowing what the competition is, and without knowing what it means to be 'good' relative to his/her peers. What if Usain Bolt grew up sprinting without ever competing against others, with a coach who told him that the world record for 100 meters was 9.40 seconds, and that he would have to go that fast to win a gold medal in the Olympics or be a professional athlete? Would he have run faster, in that case? What if he never raced anyone, and never knew what was considered a fast time? Would he go faster in either of these scenarios than when he had all the information at his fingertips?

The point is this: the psychological motivation of competition is significant. Many people step up or down to meet the necessary standard–you hear it all the time watching broadcasts of professional sports ('So and so is playing to the level of the competition,' etc., rather than to his/her potential). Despite the difficulty, it is important not to allow others to determine the limits of your potential, though they may help you to reach those limits.

It is amazing what people can accomplish based on where the bar is set. People subconsciously put ceilings and floors on their capabilities based on perception. The way you view yourself, and the world, in training and racing goes a long way toward determining how you will perform, and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is often the reason for what people commonly refer to as 'plateaus,' both in training and in racing. Sometimes people get stuck in a rut, year after year, because they come to expect the same things out of themselves, and they strive for gradual improvements. If you want to get faster, you must start by rowing faster. In other words, don't pull the same splits day after day, and month after month, and expect to 'magically' get faster. At some point, you have to start by pulling a faster split.

Yet, at times, athletes forget this, convincing themselves that they aren't capable. I think that many athletes who seem to be stagnating later in their careers may be victims of a stale framework–the framework, too, must be adapted over time. In this case, if the athlete is training hard and consistently, but not improving, he or she needs to shock themselves out of the rut by doing something different.

For example, if you have been out of college for three years, yet haven't set a new 'PR' (personal record, or 'PB'–personal best) since your junior year of college, and you are pulling the same steady state splits & are testing at all the same splits, either the training should be altered to spur change in development, or you need to take the plunge and push yourself into new territory. The longer you've been training, and the closer you get to your peak, the easier it is to settle into a training/racing rut. If, throughout the previous three seasons, you did all your steady state splits at a certain pace, maybe you need to start by rowing a little bit faster in order to nudge yourself into new physiological territory. This is a passive mindset, versus an active, more aggressive mindset.

Think about the attitude of a rower in his/her first or second year in the sport, when he/she is constantly improving. Sure, most of the improvement is born of being new, and finding out how hard you can push yourself, while simultaneously enjoying the rapid jumps in performance that occur physiologically when one starts training seriously for the first time. However, the mental attitude and approach during this time is one of active pursuit of significant gains. By expecting to make significant increases in speed early on in a career, athletes may pursue these gains more aggressively in their physical and mental approach to the training. While in a period of stagnated performance over several years, one comes to expect the same baseline, minimal performance.

Athletes often have trouble making the all important paradigm shift to view themselves as a newer, or different athlete. The longer you train, the more carved in stone your self-perception becomes, both what you expect from yourself and what you are capable of. If this happens, then you need to find a way to take a fresh approach to the way you think of yourself, your training, and the sport, in order to 'reinvent' yourself, just the way you did when you were new to the sport, and so had no choice but to create a new perception. Undoubtedly, some of periods of stagnation are, in fact, physiological limits. It is important to address the mental limits to make sure the physiological limits are the only ones preventing the athlete from getting faster.

-Justin and the RR Team

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coaches' Corner: Setting Goals, Part 1

The course in Ghent, Belgium (Photo: © B. Kitch) 
As we begin the new year, many of us begin to set specific performance goals or focus more intently on the goals we have already set for ourselves. In pursuing your individual goals it is helpful to think about the best way to maximize those goals, while placing them in perspective, and thinking about them within the optimal framework.

In setting goals, many people approach them with the wrong framework. They set their goals based on the performances and/or level of their peers, rather than basing the goals purely upon themselves and their own capabilities.

In coaching, I always try to get the athletes to focus on themselves. The goal as an athlete, then, is to make yourself 1% better everyday. I find that by first by focusing on themselves and second by focusing on step-by-step, systematic improvement one day at a time, athletes are better able to move toward their potential without too many outside limitations. If you focus on getting better relative to yourself, in order to make sure you are better tomorrow than you were yesterday, you will be working toward achieving your full potential.

This works well for those less talented people or middle of the road people who don't have the same physiological/natural gifts as some teammates or competitors. Sometimes coaches err in developing less talented athletes by creating an environment in which less talented athletes are treated as inferior. Although having a hierarchy of performance within a team is important, it is also important to reward athletes for doing their best. Ultimately, each athlete has a different ceiling on his/her maximum ability, and the key is to get each athlete to reach his/her potential. So, even though many coaches want to reward performance based on an absolute scale in order to get athletes performing at a more objective 'championship level,' they should also reward athletes for getting better every day, even if they aren't yet fast on the absolute scale. In this way, the coach will hold everyone to the same, achievable, objective standard, regardless of ability.

The same things also apply to push the most talented athletes. If there is one athlete who is far and away more talented than his/her teammates, the coach needs to push that athlete to get better every day. Defeating teammates is not an acceptable form of success–only personal improvement earns praise.

The skeptic might say that this coaching philosophy is problematic, due to relative levels of work. The fact is, lower performing athletes are sometimes 'lower performing' because they don't work as hard as the top athletes, and the top athletes are the 'top athletes' because they work harder. This means that, at first, it may be easy for athletes who haven't been working as hard to improve, while the top athletes might really struggle to improve. This is inevitably true to an extent, but it will quickly be remedied if the philosophy is applied as it will force everyone to get better. If everyone improves, it will eventually be equally hard to improve because everyone will be approaching their physiological limits, which can of course, be increased over time through smart training.

In order to effectively use this model, a coach must have a strong sense of his/her athletes. The coach must be able to tell when an athlete is pushing up against physiological limits, and approaching maximum potential. As I've said before, coaching is more an art than a science.

How can you apply this to coaching a team or a crew? Use a Speed Coach on the water and focus on achieving a certain speed, rather than focusing on beating an opponent, whose speed you have no ability to control. Be as objective as possible. You can only control how fast you go and how close you get to your own capabilities, but you can't control what your maximum potential is. What do you do if you have to race someone who is just faster and/or more talented than you? If you simply have two boats next to each other every day, without objective data from a Speed Coach or some other means of determining/tracking absolute speed, both boats may be slow in absolute terms or in terms of what you are maximally capable of–beating one boat in practice may give the other crew the false sense that it is fast. Both boats may be limiting themselves, whereas training alone, with high expectations and a talented coach could potentially lead to a higher optimum performance. It could also have the opposite effect, as training partners and competitors can help push us to levels we might not reach otherwise, but it is important to find a balance. Ultimately, a mix of both is probably the best strategy for reaching one's best. That is, using objective data and focusing on individual potential independent of others, while also using training partners and competitors as targets to help motivate and drive toward further accomplishments and increased speed.

Setting Goals, Part 2 coming up on Friday of this week.

-Justin and the RR Team

Monday, January 16, 2012

Video of the Week: Pocock, Parker, Nash, and Perry on Rowing

This week's video features four legends in our sport, sharing their thoughts and reflections on the nature of rowing, the team dynamic, coaching, and the competitive experience. Though brief, the film gives us a glimpse into the minds of George Pocock, Harry Parker, Ted Nash, and Hart Perry, with an impressive amount of on-the-water footage of crews, including the Crimson training and racing on the Charles. I'd go on, but this video speaks for itself.

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).


Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Bold Start to 2012: RR Predictions and Crews to Watch This Year

It’s getting to be that time of year again, and here at RR we’ve got itchy trigger fingers regarding picks and predictions for the 2012 season. Last year, in our first go around, we managed to do all right for ourselves. We told you in February of 2011 that the Virginia men’s team was poised to dethrone perennial ACRA power Michigan. We told you in March that the Princeton women would win the varsity eight at the 2011 NCAA Rowing Championships. While it stirred up a great deal of controversy at the time, we took a risk and questioned the nature of USRowing selection on the men’s side in the build up to the World Championships in Bled. There are further examples that we could cite, but we know that what you’d really like to read about is the here and now–so here, now, are a few ‘broad strokes’ ideas for the 2012 season. Enjoy.

The UVA Women
The Virginia women were characteristically deep last year, but seemed to lack the top end speed to get it done in the varsity eight, falling from second place in 2010 to seventh place in 2011, edging 2010 varsity eight champ Yale to win the B Final. This year, the Cavaliers got the campaign started right, with a defining moment coming as the UVA varsity eight passed Princeton’s top crew while they rounded the long curve to Eliot Bridge, winning the event in decisive fashion, some eight seconds ahead of the field. The second crew from UVA placed 10th overall. The Cavs followed this up with another outstanding show of depth at the Princeton Chase, again winning the varsity eight, and this time placing three eights in the top ten crews (UVA’s fourth boat placed 22nd, in the top half of the 49 crews entered in the women’s open eight event). In the women’s frosh eight, UVA again took first place, and Virginia B placed 10th overall.

The UVA women's squad includes British standouts Fiona Schlesinger and Sarah Cowburn, as well as Americans Kristine O’Brien, Martha Kuzzy, Brandy Herald, and freshman stud Chandler Lally. Canadian U23 national teamer Susanne Grainger is also in the mix. They are the sure favorites to win the team trophy at this year's NCAA Rowing Championships, and will also be highly competitive for the varsity eight title. Things are looking up in Charlottesville.

The Harvard Men
The Crimson will dominate the competition this year. In fact, we are willing to go so far as to say that the Harvard men will win all their races by at least ½ a length. Why such a bold statement? Harvard is one of the only ‘top-tier’ programs to have improved their varsity eight from last season, when the Crimson won an IRA silver medal. Without a doubt, Cal and Washington have a great deal of talent, as do Princeton, Wisconsin, and a number of other grand final contenders. But Washington lost two huge engines in Hans Struzyna and Conlin McCabe, while Cal lost Beijing Olympian and current Dutch national teamer Olivier Siegelaar. Harvard actually has one of its internationals back in the lineup after missing last season–a season in which they were undefeated until the IRA grand final.

Harvard features three sophomores who have stepped up to throw their names in the hat for an IRA run in Harry Parker’s 50th year as head coach. These three sophomores–Andrew Holmes, Andrew Reed and Caspar Jopling–already bumped a couple of last year’s varsity eight members down to the JV as of the fall (based on the victorious Harvard crew in the Championship Men's Eight at the 2011 Head Of The Charles). It is usually a good sign of speed when sophomores can step into major roles, occupying seats of upperclassmen who took home silver last spring. Stroke Patrick Lapage, Matthew Edstein and Josh Hicks are all back from last year’s eight, as is Kiwi Sam O’Connor (who missed last Spring recovering from a bike accident), joining his brother James.

Other crews to watch are, of course, Cal, Washington, Princeton, Wisconsin, Brown, and Boston University–it will be quite a battle to make the IRA final this spring.

The Michigan Men
The Wolverines will have a newly placed chip on their collective shoulder now that UVA has emerged as a rival in the ACRA world. We expect Frank Biller’s UVA men to be solid, with juniors Ben Hammond and Stephen Lee-Kramer leading the way, but they lost some very talented seniors from their varsity eight, including ‘the 5:54 man’ Matt Miller, and Alan Kush. It will be an uphill battle for Biller, but we know he is capable of great things, having begun to build an outstanding program–Gregg Hartsuff, however, has already built a perennial contender, and this year he will look to take full advantage of that depth in what could be an undefeated ACRA season. Louis Schaljo, a sophomore at Michigan who set the Freshman record for 2k last Winter, will be stepping up to the varsity level. Plus, they have a ton of returning talent–the Wolverines return seven of their varsity eight from last year, including Nathan Bohn, Josh Getz, Stephen Lanham and Frank Sedlar. They have ambitious goals and are aiming to take a trip to Henley this Summer. Expect them to be the class of the club field and avenge their ACRA loss in the varsity eight from last year.

The U.S. Men
While it’s been a tough quadrennium for the U.S. men, things are definitely looking up, with a view toward London. Getting Mike Teti involved was exactly what was needed to jump start the eight (just as we suggested back in July of last year, following the World Rowing Under 23 Championships), and there are a number of talented, proven athletes in the mix (including 2008 Olympians David Banks, Dan Walsh, Josh Inman, and Steve Coppola) for what we think will be a crew that not only qualifies, but will be in serious contention for a medal. With Teti dealing with the larger eight group (currently going quite well–look for an update with Teti in the upcoming issue of Rowing News), McLaren will be free to do what he does best–develop athletes and crews. In the Australian system, he functioned very well as a coach of specific crews. Say what you want about McLaren, but he has done it in the past, with the Australian M4- in Sydney and others, so, given that his will be the priority boat for the U.S. (according to USRowing), we’re expecting a medal from the M4-. Another crew to watch will be the men's quad–there is enough sculling talent in Chula Vista to put together a grand final-caliber entry.

It would be ironic, yes, but, in our opinion, it remains a strong possibility that, following what has been one of the least successful quadrennia for the U.S. men en route to the Olympics since de Coubertin revived the whole idea, they could accomplish something greater than any U.S. team since 1996–that being winning multiple medals in rowing at the same Olympics.

The U.S. Women
While it may not be much of a stretch, we are predicting two medals for the U.S. women's team, most likely coming in the eight and the quad. The eight has been dominant for six straight years, and has managed to fight off strong challenges from Canada and a surging Great Britain over the past 12 months–we think that Tom Terhaar has his sights set and will put together another winning combination in the eight. The quad is coming off a silver medal performance at the 2011 world championships, and given the amount of depth and experience available on the women's side, we're looking for another podium appearance come July.

There. We said it. If we're wrong, we'll take the heat. If not, we'll be quite pleased with ourselves, which is always vastly preferable, and we promise we won't start calling ourselves 'Rowstradamus' or anything like that (at least publicly). Now it's time to sit back, relax, and see how it all plays out.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Oxford Boat Race Experience – Part 3 of 6

The third short film in a six-part series from the University of Oxford has now been posted, this one detailing the duties and importance of the coxswain in the Boat Race. As former Oxford Blue (and two-time Boat Race winner) Matthew Pinsent points out, this race is perhaps the most demanding rowing race for coxswains in the world–there is so little room for error, and so much to consider. The level of video coverage is unparalleled, and every move can be scrutinized by an international audience. Add to this the changeable nature of the Thames, the winding course, the need to be aggressive about placement and positioning while avoiding a costly clash or a violation, and you begin to understand just how significant a role the coxswain plays on the Tideway.

Follow the links for Part 1 and Part 2 of the series. The 158th Boat Race will take place on 7 April, 2012. For more information, please visit the official website of the Boat Race.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Video of the Week: Heavy Lifting at the Princeton Boathouse Triathlon

This VOTW provides an Ivy League take on cross-training, and shows the traditionally intense 'boathouse triathlon,' including the 'clydesdale' competition for athletes who decide they want to run stadiums carrying extra weight (a new record this year from Jason Kopelman, who carried 97 lbs throughout the run–also not to be overlooked is senior Iain Silveira, who carried 85 lbs throughout; the old record was 60 lbs). On a related note, Silveira has been training with Olympic Champ (and newly appointed Temple women's head coach) Jason Read in the pair, and the two may be gearing up for an appearance on the NSR circuit later this spring. Clearly, the Tiger men and women are putting in the work for a successful spring season–a familiar trajectory, as Lori Dauphiny's squad posted an undefeated season and NCAA title in the varsity eight last year.

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).


Friday, January 6, 2012

Film for the Weekend – Great Race in Paradise: Aussies v. Kiwis

This is an absolute cracker of a race, between two very talented crews from Australia and New Zealand, contending for the Trans Tasman Cup. The Kiwi eight is stroked by now triple world champion Hamish Bond, and features Nathan Twaddle and Mahé Drysdale in the engine room, while the Australian crew contains 2008 Olympic Champ Duncan Free and Beijing Silver medalist in the M4-, Francis Hegerty at stroke. The event showcases the Gold Coast, and takes place over a winding course, with lead changes and an extremely close finish. Given the quality of the athletes in these two crews, I suppose it's no surprise.

And speaking of great athletes, Cédric Berrest of France (who took bronze at the 2011 world championships in Bled along with doubles partner Julien Bahain) has recently set a new national standard for 2000m on a stationary erg–full story and video link posted to RowingNews.com.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Maelstroms and Hailstorms: CULRC and OULRC Trial VIIIs on the Henley Reach

While the day began in fine fashion, the weather was extremely unpredictable and the racing close on the Henley Reach, as the men's lightweight crews from Cambridge (CULRC) and Oxford (OULRC) came together for the intra-squad Trial VIIIs event on December 18th. There was a weigh-in prior to racing so that race-day conditions would be simulated to the fullest extent. Matthew Pinsent was on hand to serve as umpire, and he had much to do, as the start of the racing was delayed due to barge traffic on the course.

At long last, 'King' and 'Ace' of Cambridge were allowed to race, and it began in very dramatic fashion, with a clash of blades near the start, forcing Pinsent to restart the match with a greater distance between crews. Following the restart, the racing between King and Ace was very close, though Ace (racing a Hudson, in what appears to be a University-wide shift away from Empacher) was able to edge out to a small lead near the halfway point, though King (stroked by Liam Downes, the first person from London Youth Rowing's programs to attend Cambridge) never lost overlap with the leading crew through the finish. The closely fought contest was followed by a hailstorm, as the CULRC crews paddled back to the start, and the OULRC crews prepared for their trial race.

In the Oxford trial race, 'Sublime' took on 'Ridiculous,' as ice began to fall from the sky and gusting winds blasted down the course on what had been a clear and beautiful morning. These disadvantageous conditions continued for the duration of the race, leading to more difficulty steering and slower times. Out of the gates, Ridiculous showed a cleaner approach and slipped more easily through the weather, building a commanding lead of just over a length by Remenham Club (near the halfway point). Sublime, however, did not lose touch, and ended up finishing with overlap on the winning crew (the margin was roughly 3/4 of a length).

For more information on the Henley Boat Races (which feature racing between the Oxford and Cambridge open women, lightweight men, and lightweight women), please visit their official website.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Video of the Week: Training Camp(s) with The Dutch Women's Team

First, Happy New Year to all our readers! We here at RR hope that everyone enjoyed the holidays as much as we did! Now, however, it's time to get back to business. So, to kick off 2012, we've got a double-feature VOTW, which comes to us from The Netherlands women's national team. Here, the Dutch women have put some footage of very high quality rowing together with tunes and shots from around the camp environs (the above video comes from a training camp in Mantova–or Mantua, Italy–and the below video from Mulhouse in France). From the look of it, they seem to have well in mind the idea that relaxing while off the water can be as important as focusing on the water, in terms of building speed across a season of training. The rowing technique shown here is long and relaxed, in keeping with tradition.

The weather is featured in these training videos is also something to keep you going through the cold winter months–and perhaps further inspiration to hold a training camp in a warmer locale! Check out more of the Dutch women's eight's videos on their YouTube Channel: Kanaal van Vrouwenacht.

Want to suggest the next 'Video of the Week?' Shoot us an email at rowingrelated [at] gmail [dot] com, or send us your suggestion via Twitter (twitter.com/rowingrelated).