Saturday, June 30, 2012

OTW with John Forrest of Potomac Boat Club, Part VI: Quarterfinals and Pimm's in the Enclosures

Pimm's in the Enclosures (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
Despite a game effort from the Potomac Boat Club Thames Cup VIII, the crew was unable to match speed with Royal Chester in the quarterfinal, and the race saw PBC's run at the Thames Challenge Cup come to a close for 2012. While it's always disappointing to end a regatta on a loss, it's difficult to be discontent for too long when in Henley-on-Thames, and the Potomac boys have kept this in mind on Saturday. Here's John's take on Friday's race and PBC's plans for future HRRs:
For our quarterfinal race, we drew Royal Chester Rowing Club and a relatively early 9AM race time. The strong headwind that started on Thursday afternoon had slacked off a bit by Friday morning and at times was swirling around to a crosswind. It seemed that the increase in wind would be offset a slight lessening in the strength of the current.

Royal Chester was very quick off the start and took about six seats on us by the quarter mile. The increased that lead to about a length by the Barrier and the margin see-sawed between and length and length and a half down the course until they pulled ahead further near the end for the final margin of about two lengths. Royal Chester did a great job of taking an early lead and then using that to control the race and react to our moves. They race Molesey on Saturday and Thames Rowing Club races Upper Thames Rowing Club in the other semifinal. These crews have been putting up comparable times all week so they should be some good races.

This trip is doubling as a vacation for most of the crew. After racing, we were able to start the rest and relaxation portion of the trip with a visit to the Stewards’ Enclosure (see photo above).

Brown leads Italy in the Grand (Photo: © John Forrest)
We watched several races throughout the afternoon and cheered on the other American crews. The Brown varsity and Harvard lightweights looked impressive in the Grand Challenge and Temple Cup wins, respectively. PBC progressed to the semifinals in the men’s double sculls event with another comfortable win. Unfortunately, the PBC-Vesper composite women’s quad lost and Gonzaga fell in their quarterfinal match-up against Abingdon School, the UK national junior champions.

This puts an end to racing for the Potomac men’s sweep team at Henley. Although it did not always go according to plan, it was still a great trip. We learned some more about planning a Henley trip which should make future trips easier. We are also taking away lessons on training and race preparation that will serve as good motivation for the next PBC crew to race at Henley. -JF
Thanks very much to John Forrest and the whole Potomac BC contingent,and congrats on a strong showing in very challenging conditions this year. The Sunday finals are nearly set, and the results are being updated continuously on the official website of Henley Royal Regatta (for results links, see the top center of the page).

-RR

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Edition Video of the Week: The Canadian Men's Eight Trains for London



Yesterday, exactly one month before the rowing begins in London, the official Olympic lineups were announced by Rowing Canada Aviron, and can be viewed in full in the RCA press release posted to RowingNews.com. The men's eight, made up of Gabe Bergen, Jeremiah Brown, Andrew Byrnes, Will Crothers, Douglas Csima, Robert Gibson, Malcolm Howard, Conlin McCabe, and coxswain Brian Price, will undoubtedly be one of the most competitive in the field this year, having taken bronze last season in Bled, and having set a new world's best time in the heats in Lucerne. The above video is another great one coming out of the Canadian camp, giving further insight into what it's like to be a part of the Spracklen training program.

Henley Friday has come to a close, and saw out Potomac BC Thames Cup VIII fall to a very competitive crew from Royal Chester. Congrats to Potomac and John Forrest on a solid performance at HRR–as Henley veterans no doubt they'll know where best to drown their sorrows/soak up some atmosphere along the Thames.

The timetable for racing has now been posted for tomorrow:
http://www.hrr.co.uk/crews/racing-information/timetable/

More to come from Henley-on-Thames!

-RR

Thursday, June 28, 2012

OTW with John Forrest, Part V: The Thames Challenge Cup, Round Two

The Progress Board (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
As anyone on the towpath, or listening to Regatta Radio can tell you, the morning race between the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and Potomac Boat Club was a barnburner. PBC took a small lead early, and were able to fight off push after push from RHKYC down the course, responding to Hong Kong's furious sprint and taking a 1/4 length victory to advance to Friday. Here's the John's take on the race:
Thursday morning brought us an exciting second round race against the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the only other non-UK entry in the Thames Cup this year. Racing conditions were roughly similar to yesterday with a strong current but with a lighter wind. Going into the race, we had some information on Hong Kong but not a lot. From the racing program, we knew that their weight average is nearly identical to ours. From talking with them at the Overseas Crew Reception, we knew that they are similar to us in age, experience, and preparation.

Coincidentally, they are coached by a former PBC member who was Chad’s roommate during training camps in the early ‘90s when both were trying to make the national team. So we expected them to be a slick crew prepared to race hard. 
PBC leads RHKYC coming through the enclosures (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
Today’s race was a nail biter. We had a clean start and settled into our base rhythm with Hong Kong right next to us. The results show us ahead at the Barrier and Fawley markers, but it wasn’t by much. As we expected, they rowed very cleanly and in the first half of the race neither crew could sustain momentum for very long. We edged out to a lead of two or three seats and did just enough to respond as Hong Kong made moves to come back level.
Crossing the halfway point, we were able to inch our way out to a lead of about six seats but Hong Kong fought hard to hang on. Just past the mile marker, Hong Kong started to wind up for their sprint and we responded, managing to hang on for a quarter length victory.

We survived the bracket for another day. Tomorrow we race against Royal Chester Rowing Club, who have put in solid efforts the first two days of the regatta for comfortable wins. 
The PBC scullers started their racing today with the PBC-Penn AC double of Willie Cowles and Stephen Whelpley having a solid race this morning to advance to the next round. Matt Miller races in the Diamond Sculls this evening and Morgan Wimberley races in the women’s quad event tomorrow in a composite entry with Vesper Boat Club. We will be down at the course to cheer them on. 
Boat shoe boat (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
Finally, the course and enclosures are becoming very crowded early on this regatta. It seems that the great weather is encouraging spectators to come out early in the day. This is also bringing out some atypical boat traffic [see above]. -JF
Afternoon racing in the Diamond Challenge Sculls saw Matt Miller fall to J.F.L. Walton of Loughborough Students Rowing Club by 1 and 1/2 lengths, while another American, Andrew Campbell of Cambridge Boat Club, won his heat over B. DuBois of Belgium–the verdict: 'Easily.' More to come tomorrow from Henley-on-Thames!

-RR

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

OTW with Potomac Boat Club's John Forrest, Part IV: The Thames Challenge Cup, Round One

Potomac Boat Club Thames Cup VIII races the heat (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
While the Potomac Wyfold IV experienced some hard Henley luck, the Thames Cup VIII crew responded well to a tough challenge from local favorites, Marlow Rowing Club. Here's John's view of the first round of the Thames Challenge Cup from the six seat of the PBC eight:
Today was the first day of racing at Henley Royal Regatta. PBC’s four and eight were scheduled to race at opposite ends of the day – 8:40AM and 6:30PM. The four drew London Rowing Club ‘B’ in a morning Wyfold match up. It was a close race early on with Potomac taking a slight lead before drifting into London’s water. There was a clash and the race umpire disqualified PBC for interference. It is an understatement to call this a disappointing way to exit the regatta, but the four is handling it admirably.

The eight then had the rest of the day to prepare for our evening race against Marlow Rowing Club. After a lunch break paddle, we rested in the afternoon before meeting up at the boat tent ninety minutes before our race.

After a beautiful two days of weather, the morning started off overcast with a moderate cross-headwind on the course. After an afternoon shower passed through, the sun began to poke out from the clouds and the wind slackened as we were walking to the course. We had some of the best conditions of the day to race in.

We negotiated our way to the top of the course through the late afternoon pleasure boat traffic. After passing the start line, we got in our pre-race power strokes and starts and then lined up at the start. We tried to stay loose at the start and the three of us from the 2010 boat were glad to see the umpire’s launch Herakles, which followed all of our races in 2010, pull past Temple Island to officiate our race.

PBC VIII v. Marlow (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
Marlow gunned it off the start and the two boats traded seats throughout the early part of the race. Marlow held a lead of a couple of seats at the Barrier and we had reversed the margin by Fawley. Over the second half the race we punched out to an open water lead and managed to hold that until the finish.

After docking, we had a chance for a brief chat with the Marlow boat. They are a great group and sound like a young crew and I hope they are able to have more good racing in their future.
Off the water, the marquee event so far was the Overseas Crew Reception at the River & Rowing Museum. This gave us the first chance to break out our official PBC blazers as a team.

Blazer Up! PBC contingent on the bank (Photo: © Marianne Wood)
The museum is a great venue with interesting exhibitions on the history of rowing, Henley Royal Regatta, and the Thames River. One highlight of the reception was a speech from the newest regatta steward, Guin Batten. She shared the story of her first time racing at the regatta. She was new to sculling but made it through qualifiers for the women’s single event, only to draw Elisabeta Lipa for her first race. Although her first Henley race did not result in a win, it was still a very memorable race and she encouraged all of the crews to enjoy the racing to forge their own lasting memories of the regatta.
We race the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at 10AM tomorrow morning and are looking forward to another day of racing on the Thames. -JF
Quite a dramatic first day of racing, with no less than 88 races having been run on the Henley course on Wednesday. While it may be obvious, it is always astounding, nonetheless, to think that roughly half of the crews entered in the regatta have already been eliminated (with the obvious exceptions of those yet to begin racing). But then, such is Henley Royal Regatta. Thanks very much to John for the post on quite a busy evening -- another exciting day awaits tomorrow on the Thames!

-RR

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Henley Royal Regatta, 2012: RR Picks and Predictions

View from the enclosures, HRR (Photo: © B. Kitch)
Picks and predictions for Henley are notoriously difficult in Olympic years, especially with a huge entry of 499 crews, but at RowingRelated we’re here to give it our best (some would say educated?) guess, despite the fact that the Stewards’ press release describes the entry as 'fascinatingly unpredictable!'

With Olympic crews away on training camps ahead of the Games, the open events that usually witness the big players of the international circuit in match racing mode, tuning up for Lucerne, are instead somewhat more 'open,' featuring a mixture of non-qualified international crews, or top level university or club entries sensing their moment to try and claim one of the most prestigious prizes in rowing. Another element that’s accentuated in Olympic years is the discretion of the regatta Stewards, as their aim for a high standard of competition across the board will have inevitably led to some cajoling of certain entries into events above their station to try and engineer this (see Brown stepping up to the Grand and also, in our opinion, potentially the decision to move the Hansa Dortmund entry in the Thames Cup up to the Ladies).

There are also fears that the conditions this year will play a part in many races. The Thames Valley had, similarly to much of Britain, experienced three of the driest winters on record. However, since April that shortage has been completely reversed and has seen widespread flooding across the UK. Conditions similar to those of 2007 are therefore a possibility, when leads of a full length entering the Stewards’ Enclosure were overturned in the final stages as the crew on the Bucks station were left exposed to the stream in the middle of the course. If this is the case, it will undoubtedly lead to some different race strategies being seen and potentially some difficulties for steersmen of small boats.

And now, without further ado, here are our picks for HRR 2012:

Open Events

The Grand Challenge Cup – M8+

Pretty tricky one to call first up! The Dutch and Italian crews are their countries respective lightweight eights, whilst the Australian and German entries are U23 selections preparing for the forthcoming championships in Lithuania. Many of the combinations will not have any racing experience in these lineups, so obviously there’s no form guide as such we can refer to. For the romantic in us, we would like to see the entry from California Rowing Club, formed from guys who made huge sacrifices in their attempt to make the U.S. Olympic eight take the prize – for many of this crew, this may well be their final opportunity before heading back to their chosen vocations… Brown have been encouraged by their alumnus and recently appointed HRR Steward Jamie Koven to step up to this top level event, instead of the Ladies Plate, so it will be interesting to see how their undeniable speed from this season matches up against international opposition.

The Remenham Challenge Cup – W8+

Again, U23 crews are the cream of this crop–a highly talented field including Germany, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, France, and a GB composite (Leander and Sport Imperial)–making predictions all but impossible. Look for Radcliffe to make the second round, as the Black and White are set to race Thames and Henley (whom Radcliffe defeated by a 1 and 1/2 lengths at Henley Women's Regatta).

Stewards’ Challenge Cup – M4-

This looks a straight showdown between Australia and New Zealand’s U23 crews. Unfortunately, given the controversy regarding the Boat Race this year, we cannot see the Oxford University entry, featuring their top four athletes, challenging either of the antipodeans.

The Queen Mother Challenge Cup – M4x

Providing they have continued training with the same focus and intensity, the Danish M4x who missed out on Olympic qualification at Lucerne look like the pick of the entries here. Their main challengers, the Australian and New Zealand U23 crews, are unlikely to be peaking given their forthcoming championships, so look for the Danes to walk away with the medals in this event.

Princess Grace Challenge Cup – W4x

Another host of U23 crews are on show in this event, including Australia and New Zealand. It’s a little strange that the crew from Leander has been overlooked for selection however, given it is looking to be selected for the European Chmpionships and features Rachel Gamble-Flint, GB’s entrant in the W1x at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta as well as Sarah Cowburn, fresh from NCAA victory with Virginia.

The Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup – M2-

A large number of international lightweight pairs have entered this year, but predictably given the format of the regatta and the unsettled forecast for this year’s regatta, we are again picking the best of the HWs as the likely contenders. Dan Ritchie, stroke of the GB M8+ for the two previous seasons, but who’s injury plagued winter marked the end of his Olympic challenge, teams up with fellow squad member Tom Broadway having publicly announced his ambition at claiming this event. We expect their main challengers to be Christomanos & Lampridis, the second Greek pair from the recent World Cup regattas, Molina & Lang, who were in the French crew that failed to qualify for the men’s 8 at Lucerne. Little has been seen of Ritchie and Broadway this season apart from their efforts at the final British Olympic trials, but if they’re on the start line, anything apart from victory in the final will be further disappointment for them. Also, keep an eye on the U.S. combination of Jamie Koven and Mike Blomquist, both of whom were training all year in hopes of making the U.S. squad for London.

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup – M2x

Undoubtedly the weakest of the Open events this year, the Leander crew of Collins & Sinclair are probably favorites given their recent form, knowledge of the course and focus on this event. We potentially expect the two Norwegian crews from Oslo Kraftsenter (featuring individuals who were trialled for the World Rowing Cup III champion Norwegian M2x) to challenge, but their apparent doubling up in the Queen Mother gives us concern over their focus - racing or merely coming for the experience?

The Diamond Challenge Sculls – M1x

For us, Graeme Thomas’s 4th place finish at the recent Munich World Cup makes him clear favorite. Andrew Campbell and Duncan Grant, two of the world’s top lightweight scullers that did not make the Olympics are also in attendance and will certainly want to add their names to the prestigious list of previous winners. Look for young British scullers Johnny Walton and Luke Moon to try and progress through a round or two.

The Princess Royal Challenge Cup – W1x

Similarly to the Diamonds, Sanita Puspure’s achievement in reaching the A final in Munich, in addition to her success at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta, make her the obvious selection. However, the presence of Laura Schiavone and 2012 C.R.A.S.H.-B Sprints champion Kaisa Pajusalu, two of Puspure's competitors in Lucerne, suggest that the racing will be tight.


Intermediate Events

The Ladies Challenge Plate – M8+

An interesting recent addition to the entrants has been the Hansa Dortmund crew that were initially in the Thames Cup. Believed to be a German U23 development crew, the Stewards’ decision to enforce this change can be seen in two lights. Firstly, as they fully admit that the crew are initially formed from seven different clubs and are therefore a composite in all but name (a bit of a giveaway given that Hansa Dortmund is the racing name of their national training center!), but also secondly that the level of competition in the Ladies Plate is potentially somewhat lacking due to the loss of top crews from the Grand, and could do with strengthening to ensure that the weekend races are suitably competitive. On this line however, the bottom half of the draw is somewhat lopsided as the Army/Thames entry has been (very surprisingly) afforded a bye to the Saturday. We expect a strong Leander crew featuring world LM2- champion Kieren Emery in the stroke seat, backed up by many U23 medalists to make the final where they are likely to face a Harvard crew extremely similar to the one they knocked out last year – a bit of a grudge match beckons!

The Visitors’ Challenge Cup – M4-

In our view, the clear favorites for the Visitors’ are the Brookes/Molesey entry. However, as the crew represented Great Britain at last year’s European championships, we feel it’s slightly controversial that in a year where numerous U23 crews have been ‘invited’ to step up to the highest level, they are able to continue to race against predominantly domestic crews – a large margin of victory, contrary to the Stewards’ desires may result. Last year’s Wyfold winning crew from London RC are reunited in their assault on the next level, but as lightweights will be up against the expected conditions. The selected crew from Nereus look the pick from the top half of the draw.

The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup – M4x

Leander have made this event their own over the past few years, but we feel they may have a formidable adversary this year in the form of Melbourne University. Coached by Alex Henshilwood, who led Eton to successive PE victories before returning last year with the dominant Upper Yarra crew in the Thames Cup, success is a continuing theme for crews under his tutelage. They look set to face the Leander crew, featuring two of last year’s winning members as well as Jamie Fraser-McKenzie from Zimbabwe who will be racing the M1x at the Olympics, in a Saturday showdown that is likely to decide the eventual winners.


Club Events

The Thames Challenge Cup – M8+

Without Hansa Dortmund, it now looks far likelier that a British club will reclaim the Thames Cup. The inconsistent form of the main competitors means there is no stand out favorite, but expect to see Thames, Molesey and Upper Thames fighting it out by the weekend, with each of these crews the lead boat created from the respective squads of these large clubs. The returns of Myles Neary and Jack Shepherd from Washington and an extremely favourable draw which will not see them face any of their main adversaries until the final make Molesey clear favourites in our eyes however, whilst Thames must overcome a potentially tricky Sport Imperial crew on the first day of the regatta ahead of a potential meeting with Upper Thames on Saturday. Also of note will be our OTW series' own Potomac Boat Club (USA), with an entry made up of several members of their semifinal crew from 2010, and having been selected by the Stewards.

The Wyfold Challenge Cup – M4-

This looks the most difficult of all the club events to predict, and that’s without factoring in the likelihood of issues with steering this year! The clubs of seven different nations make the 32 boat line-up, however ANA Rowing Club from Western Australia are the sole selected overseas crew despite the presence of a crew from Upper Yarra, last year’s Thames Cup winners in this event. The crew from Griffen Boat Club (Abingdon School Alumni) have caused some controversy, as in addition to being a school alumni club, some of the crew had spent most of the year training as part of the development squad at Leander, who continue to be outlawed from club events due to the vast chasm in resources that exists between them and all other British clubs. Little is known about ANA however, and it is also uncertain whether the selected Star entry is the quicker half of last year’s eight that lost the final of the Thames Cup.

The Britannia Challenge Cup – M4+

The 2011 Thames Cup runners-up Star Club who lost out to last year’s outstanding Upper Yarra crew were expected to be the front-runner in that event again. The same speed hadn’t been forthcoming this season however, so the decision has apparently been taken to prioritise the ‘Brit’ in the search of the long sought after win. Similarly to last year, little has been seen of Star, and this has not gone unnoticed by the Stewards who have not selected them, although their selection in the Wyfold suggests that they could have changed their focus to this event. The main other crews to look out for are Taurus, featuring former world erg champion Graham Benton, London and an Eton Vikings (Eton School alumni) crew with PE winning pedigree, although the Phoenix RC entry from Adelaide has also been selected.


Student Events

The Temple Challenge Cup – M8+

The standout crew is clearly the unbeaten Washington frosh, but as many before have encountered, plenty can happen over the five consecutive days of match racing. The IRA lightweight champions Harvard are, on paper, their closest opposition, but the Crimson may find conditions against them if the expected stream and headwind sets in. Racing from the Friday onwards will be hugely competitive in this event as other U.S. entries battle it out with European entries such as Nereus from Holland and interestingly this year, St Petersburg from Russia. The top British crews of Durham and Oxford Brookes will be dreaming of making the weekend, but will more than likely find the speed of their overseas opponents a little too hot to handle.

The Prince Albert Challenge Cup – M4+

The draw this year has neatly split the selected crews, with the British (Newcastle and Imperial College) occupying the top half and their U.S. counterparts (Harvard and Brown) the bottom. However in our opinion, a big omission by the Stewards has been the non-selection of the University of London ‘A’ crew in the bottom half, who displayed some serious speed at the Holland Beker in Amsterdam recently. We feel they have the potential to overcome the U.S. opposition and make their way to the final, potentially against Newcastle in a rare all-British HRR student final.


Junior Events

Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup – JM8+

Abingdon and Hampton the form British crews, with Abingdon the home country favorites in the event this year. U.S. entries likely to show some speed are Belmont Hill (whose M4+ recently took a very close silver at the USRowing Youth National Championships, and who won both the first and second Boys' Fours at the 2012 NEIRA Regatta), and Groton (who also had podium finishes in the Boys Fours at NEIRA). Tabor Academy and Philips Exeter Academy finished in silver and bronze medal position, respectively, in the Boys First Eight grand final at NEIRA, and BC High also made the final, placing 5th overall. It will be interesting to see how these NEIRA crews, accustomed to racing over 1500m, respond to what will likely be very slow racing conditions on a 2,112 meter course.  Ridley College of Canada, coached by Canadian Olympian Jason Dorland, is also a crew to watch (and is one of the selected crews for the event), having had a very successful domestic season this year.

Fawley Challenge Cup – JM4x

Sir William Borlase are the hot favorites from Britain, but an Australian crew usually comes along to take this event away. Sydney RC, previous winners, know what is required in this event so must be fancied. Conestoga High School (USA) should also be very competitive, coming off a very close bronze medal finish at the U.S. national championships (less than 0.1 from second place).

Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls – JW4X

This is a new event, and a first one for junior women at Henley Royal. The selected crew from Canford School is our favorite to win the event.

There you have it! Good luck to all crews and we look forward to seeing how our picks play out over the course of the regatta!

-The RR Editorial Staff, in combination with the RR International Research Department

Monday, June 25, 2012

OTW with Potomac Boat Club's John Forrest, Part III: Pirates, Locks, and Blazers

PBC Thames Cup VIII on the way to Reading (Photo: © Allison Prevatt)
It was a busy weekend for Potomac, as the PBC Thames Cup VIII headed over to compete in the Reading Town Regatta–a common practice as crews prepare for Henley Royal–narrowly avoiding a group of 'pirates' paddling along the Thames as PBC progressed through the locks on the way to Reading. Here's the latest from John Forrest:
On Saturday morning, the eight paddled from Henley to Reading for the Reading Town Regatta. The row was about eight miles long and took us upriver through a fairly winding section of the Thames. This was a scenic row as we passed by a lot of country houses, waterfront pubs, and open fields. There was a little bit of excitement as we passed a group of pirates paddling down the river in canoes. They later wandered onto the Henley course and almost collided with the Potomac four as it was practicing.

One of the unique parts of the row to Reading is rowing through three locks. The first time rowing into a lock was slightly terrifying as we had to maneuver the boat into a narrow space and try to stay in place as water filled the lock. This was complicated by the strong stream and winds.

Pirates on the Thames (Photo: © Allison Prevatt)
We eventually made it to Reading and had a couple of hours to relax and grab lunch before our first eight hundred meter race. The day gave us a chance to get in a long row to stretch our legs, some sprint pieces to shock our jet-lagged systems, and a lot of strokes into the stream and headwind conditions that we might see in Henley.

As sometimes happens to American crews on a Henley trip, we traveled a few thousand miles to race a crew located less than five miles from our club – Gonzaga College High School. Gonzaga is also located in Washington, DC but rows on the Anacostia River. It’s been great to see them have a successful domestic racing season and the opportunity to race at Henley. We will be cheering for them throughout the week.

The regatta Draw was also posted on Saturday. The Henley Stewards have tagged the eight as one of four selected crews in the Thames Cup. We race Marlow Rowing Club on Wednesday evening in our opening race. The Wyfold Cup four has drawn London Rowing Club ‘B’ in the first round and races Wednesday morning. The PBC scullers start racing in the open-level events later in the week.

Both crews have settled into a routine of paddling on the course twice a day. One goal of these rows is to become familiar with the course markers. Since the course is slightly longer than two thousand meters, we have to use markers on the shore such as the Barrier, Fawley, and the Mile Post to measure our progress rather than five hundred meter markers.

As a club crew, we don’t really have many activities or day trips planned as schools often do. Instead each crew member has been using downtime to wander around town, head into London or Oxford, engage in some epic ping pong games, and just catch up on sleep.

The first full group activity is the Overseas Crew Reception this evening. Some of the guys have been itching to break out the PBC blazers we ordered for the trip. This will be the first time for us to wear them as a group. -JF
The PBC contingent will be donning their finest apparel for the first time, and gearing up for the regatta to start on Wednesday. As John states, the Potomac Boat Club Thames Cup VIII was named a 'selected' (seeded) crew by the Henley Stewards, and, according to The Draw, will be racing Marlow Rowing Club (at 630pm according to the Wednesday Timetable, now posted to the HRR website), while the PBC Wyfold entry will be taking on what is likely to be a competitive 'B' crew from London RC.

The excitement is brewing in Henley-on-Thames, and our publishing schedule here on RR will reflect that, with the VOTW timetable rearranged so that we can bring your more from the Stewards' Enclosure. We will be releasing our 2012 HRR Picks and Predictions tomorrow. Stay tuned.

-RR

Saturday, June 23, 2012

'On the Water' with John Forrest of Potomac Boat Club, Part II: Arrival in Henley

Prince Albert Cup Qualifier (Photo: © John Forrest)
The Potomac Boat Club Thames Cup crew has arrived in Henley, and the qualifiers are now done and dusted, following a very windy day on the Thames. Getting acclimated to the surroundings, time-change, and course will be the task at hand for the next two days, with The Draw next on the list–a hugely important factor at Henley Royal every year. Here's John's account of the PBC arrival in England:
Yesterday was like most Thursdays - row, work, and class - except it ended with a transatlantic flight. After a pre-departure email with more words of advice and encouragement from our coach Nancy Faigen, we made our way from Washington to Henley.

Today was all about finishing some big and small logistical details and getting settled in. First on the list was successfully meeting up in Terminal 1 of Heathrow Airport in order to catch a ride with Henley Taxis. Although most of us were on the same flight, there was a bit of uncertainty as Pete and Sean were each on a different flight and Chad was flying in from a week-long work trip to Kazakhstan. Despite some minor delays, we met each other by the Costa Coffee in Terminal 1 and rode to Henley-on-Thames.

Next on the list was getting settled into our accommodations. Luckily, we have stayed with some great host families on prior trips, and nine of us are staying with Jenny, who hosted part of the crew from 2007. Last month, Jenny put us in touch with Allan, who is hosting the rest of the group. Since Jenny has pet cats and Allan has a pet dog, we split the group based on allergies. Those with cat allergies are staying at Allan’s, now called the Doghouse. Since the bulk of the group is staying with Jenny, her house is now called the Big House.

Outside of the 'Dog House' on the way to the Boat Tents (Photo: © Tim Spell)
Since neither boat had to race in qualifiers this afternoon, we meandered through town, picking up lunch on our way to the boat tent. The eight quickly located our shell – The Lady Jenny - and oars and then worked on rigging them, making minor changes to heights and spreads, and adjusting oar lengths.

We did not get all of the rigging finished until after qualifiers began, and could not launch until they were completed. We had to change our original plan of paddling to Reading tonight to a quick paddle on the Henley course. We then spent a couple of hours hanging around the boat tents, chatting with some of the PBC scullers who are racing, and walking up the course to watch the qualifying races. As we waited, it was great to hear successful crews cheering after hearing the results of qualifying.

Rigging with Alex M, Carl, Tom and Pete (Photo: © John Forrest)
Today also fell into the category of be careful what you wish for. We were all hoping for a break from the DC summer heat; it was in the mid-90s yesterday afternoon with 85% humidity. Today was almost great weather with temperatures in the 60s and mostly sunny conditions. The wind, on the other hand, was out of control and made it downright cold. Hopefully the next few days find a happy medium for conditions, especially since the combination of headwind and stream seemed to make for some long races today.

One of the big pulls of coming to Henley is that, even on my third trip, rowing and racing here still feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Walking along the path today I was reminded of what an intimate course this is. The match-style racing means there is only one other crew to focus on during the race. You have one opponent at a time and can sense where they are, when they are trying to move, and know immediately how you have to react. The course also runs very close to the banks and spectators can hear the coxswains’ and steersman’s calls and can clearly see the effort each crew is putting into its race.

We launched after qualifiers for a quick paddle up and down the course. One of the cool aspects of this year's trip is seeing the reaction of my three boat mates who are racing here for the first time. As we pulled into the Berkshire lane at the start of the course, with the sun starting to set and Temple Island protecting us from the wind, one of them called it the coolest place he's ever been.

Tomorrow the eight is rowing to Reading in the morning and then racing in the Reading Town Regatta in the afternoon. Nick arrives in the morning, and then the four will be rowing and becoming familiar with steering on the course. -JF

More updates to come as PBC heads to Reading Town Regatta in preparation for Henley next week.

-RR

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team Lineups Announced

London looms (Photo: © B. Kitch)
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team lineups are now known (though the alternates have yet to be officially named), with the final three crews announced this afternoon, pending final approval by the USOC. The U.S. will have crews entered in all events, with the exceptions of the men's double and men's lightweight double. Following two silver medals (in two appearances) on the World Rowing Cup circuit this summer in the women's pair, Beijing gold medalists Elle Logan and Erin Cafaro have returned to the eight, and will enter the 2012 Games as defending champs in the event. The women's quad contains three-of-four athletes from last year's silver medal crew in Bled, with the addition of Kara Kohler (who began rowing only three years ago, and got her first experience sculling internationally at Henley last summer, later winning gold in the W4- in Bled). The men's quad is without either Warren Anderson or Sam Stitt, both of whom were named to the Beijing squad, and contains Stanford alum Alex Osborne, who began sculling at the elite level this season following two appearances in the U.S. men's eight at the World Championships (2009 and 2011).

U.S. Team lineups for London listed below, with universities:

Men’s Single Sculls
Ken Jurkowski (Cornell)

Women’s Single Sculls
Gevvie Stone (Princeton)

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
Julie Nichols (California)
Kristin Hedstrom (Wisconsin)

Women’s Double Sculls
Margot Shumway (The Ohio State)
Sarah Trowbridge (Michigan)

Men’s Pair
Silas Stafford (Stanford)
Tom Peszek (Michigan)

Women’s Pair
Sarah Zelenka (Grand Valley State)
Sara Hendershot (Princeton)

Lightweight Men’s Four
Robin Prendes (Princeton)
Nick LaCava (Columbia)
Will Newell (Harvard)
Anthony Fahden (Dartmouth)

Men’s Four
Scott Gault (Washington)
Charlie Cole (Yale)
Henrik Rummel (Harvard)
Glenn Ochal (Princeton)

Men’s Quadruple Sculls
Alex Osborne (Stanford)
Peter Graves (Trinity College)
Wes Piermarini (UMass)
Elliot Hovey (California)

Women’s Quadruple Sculls
Adrienne Martelli (Washington)
Kara Kohler (California)
Megan Kalmoe (Washington)
Natalie Dell (Penn State)

Men’s Eight
Zach Vlahos (California)
Grant James (Wisconsin)
David Banks (Stanford)
Steve Kasprzyk (Drexel)
Jake Cornelius (Stanford)
Brett Newlin (Washington)
Ross James (Wisconsin)
Will Miller (Northeastern)
Giuseppe Lanzone (Washington)

Women’s Eight
Mary Whipple (Washington)
Caryn Davies (Harvard)
Caroline Lind (Princeton)
Eleanor Logan (Stanford)
Meghan Musnicki (Ithaca College)
Taylor Ritzel (Yale)
Erin Cafaro (California)
Esther Lofgren (Harvard)
Susan Francia (Penn)

For more on the athletes and the announcement, please visit the official website of USRowing and RowingNews.com.

-RR

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Series: 'On the Water' with John Forrest – Potomac Boat Club's Journey to Henley Royal Regatta, Part I

The 2012 Henley Royal Regatta is just around the corner, with qualifiers set for Friday, 22nd June and the racing beginning on Wednesday, 27 June. Last year, in our first-ever On the Water (OTW) Series, Matt Miller of the Virginia Cavaliers gave us an insight into his team’s trip over to Henley-on-Thames, racing with the UVa varsity eight in the Temple Challenge Cup, and reaching the semifinals. This year, Georgetown alum John Forrest of Potomac Boat Club's Thames Challenge Cup eight will be picking up where Matt left off, giving us an inside look at PBC’s preparation and training, as well as the experience of racing Henley. In John’s first installment, he introduces the PBC crews that will line up in the starting blocks on the Thames, as the team gets ready to head over to England:
Potomac Boat Club (PBC) has entered the Thames Challenge Cup for club eights and the Wyfold Challenge Cup for club coxless fours at the Henley Royal Regatta. These crews are drawn from PBC’s men’s sweep team of club and masters rowers. This is the third time the sweep team has raced at Henley, after making the Thames Challenge Cup 8+ quarterfinals in 2007 and semifinals in 2010. 
The spark for racing at Henley this year was the team’s win last fall in the Open 8+ at the Head of the Potomac over crews from Georgetown and George Washington. Being able to field an eight that was competitive with collegiate varsity programs was an indicator that we had a fast boat and that it might be worthwhile to race at Henley. This kept us motivated to work hard throughout the winter and early spring. 
In mid-April, after evaluating winter progress and everyone’s schedule to accommodate a focused training effort and trip to England, we decided to race at Henley. This was followed by three weeks of seat racing, which showed that we could field a competitive eight and four. We settled on the following Thames and Wyfold lineups:

Thames Cup VIII after a win at the Schuylkill Navy Regatta (Photo: © Erik Edstrom)

Thames Challenge Cup 
C: Allison Prevatt – Coxed for the women’s team at Williams and current American University law student
S: Chad Jungbluth – USNA grad and twenty-plus year member of the Navy
7: Alex Mastroyannis –Yale graduate and current George Washington University medical student
6: John Forrest – Georgetown alum; current full-time patent agent and part-time law student at GWU
5: Tom Brock – Ohio State alum and an architect
4: Sean Durkin – San Diego State alum and 2011 USRowing Masters Rower of the Year
3: Alex Del Sordo - GWU alum, works for the American Trucking Association, and head rowing coach for Bishop O’Connell High School
2: Carl Nunziato –Yale graduate doing medical research at Washington Hospital Center and applying to medical school
B: Pete Clements – Williams alum, consultant, and grad student at American University

Chad, Tom, and I were part of the 2010 boat that made the semis of the Thames Cup. Alex D, Sean, Tom, and I finished second in the Club 4+ at the 2011 Head Of The Charles. Allison, Pete, and Alex have previous racing experience at Henley. Seven of us – everyone except Alex M and Allison – rowed in the winning Head of the Potomac Open 8+ that put us on the path for Henley.
The PBC Wyfold IV trains on the Potomac (Photo: © Chris Miorin)

Wyfold Challenge Cup
S: Nick Davies – Lincoln College, Oxford alum, consultant, and member of the 2010 boat
3: TJ Maguire – Marist alum working for the local DC Fox affiliate
2: Phil Hoyle – UW alum, Army veteran
B: Tim Spell –St. Joe’s Prep and GWU grad working in web design for non-profits 
Both crews are a mixed bag of age and experience. The stern pair of the eight has the oldest and youngest rowers. Some members have been rowing at PBC for over five years; some have been rowing at PBC for a year or less. Everyone has a full schedule – work or grad school or a combination – and fits in rowing as a hobby. It’s a time and effort-consuming hobby, but a rewarding one. 
After setting the line ups in early May, we settled into a solid training groove of four to six times per week for seventy-five minutes at a stretch, plus extra workouts on our own. This is close to the maximum training time that our schedules allow. 
Training has been a mix of steady state rows to gain some comfort in the line ups and higher rate work to get our 2K legs under us. Fortunately, we have a deep squad this year and have been able to field additional lineups to push the Henley crews in practice. 
Since the club racing season just started, the Schuylkill Navy Regatta was our first opportunity to put it all together. We did not have the usual Boathouse Row opposition, but both crews were able to reacquaint ourselves with a full-effort 2K. The closest competition was other PBC entries. The four raced down the course with two other PBC fours. The eight battled against another PBC boat as the other clubs fell off the pace. The PBC Thames eight withstood a strong thousand-meter move to win by just over a length. As Alex D said, it was a very patient 2K. 
We leave for England on Thursday night, just in time to escape the DC heat and humidity that is settling in after a mild May and June. After arriving, we’re anticipating a flurry of activity to get settled in preparation for some tune-up racing on Saturday at the Reading Town Regatta. -JF
Thanks very much to John Forrest and the rest of the Potomac Boat Club squad, and we look forward to following the Henley trip this season. Also, Matt Miller will be returning to Henley, racing in the Diamond Challenge Sculls, in a field featuring 2011 world bronze medalist (and triple world champion) in the LM1x, Duncan Grant of New Zealand, as well as U.S. lightweight Andrew Campbell (who, surprisingly, has been asked to race in the Qualifiers), and Mike Sivigny, representing the California Rowing Club. More to come from John and PBC once they head across the pond.

-RR

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Video Guide: Get to Know the Henley Royal Regatta Course, with Robert Treharne Jones



The 2012 running of Henley Women's Regatta is in the books, with Radcliffe (Harvard) taking second overall in the Elite 8+ category, following up on their strong 2011-2012 domestic season (which saw the Black and White take ninth overall at the NCAA Championships in the varsity eight, and 12th in the team standings). After a solid victory over a very talented crew from Thames/Henley by 1 and 1/2 lengths, Radcliffe battled well in the final, but fell to University College Dublin by half a length in the last race of the regatta. Radcliffe will be sticking around the Henley course for a second go-round, however, this time at the Henley Royal Regatta (in the Remenham Challenge Cup), which begins on 27 June.

The course is unique, and knowing where you are can make a huge difference when it comes time to race, helping you to manage your physiology as well as to plan and execute your moves at the right time. To that end, the above video is a guide to the course, courtesy of The Henley Standard, narrated by none other than FISA's voice of rowing, and Regatta Radio (HRR) announcer, Robert Treharne Jones. For American crews, less familiar with the course, this video is a solid introduction regarding what to look (and listen) for/how to orient yourself while racing down the 1 mile and 550 yard (2,112 meter) course (I mean, not that any of you will be looking out of the boat...).

The list of entries for the 2012 HRR has been released, and features a number of standout U.S. crews, not least of which are Brown's varsity eight (2012 IRA silver medalists, racing in the Grand Challenge Cup), Michigan's varsity eight (ACRA bronze medalists and Dad Vail champs, racing the Temple Challenge Cup), the undefeated Washington Husky frosh eight (Temple), and two crews from Harvard: the undefeated lightweight varsity eight (Temple), and the Crimson heavyweight eight (racing in the Ladies' Challenge Plate event). Potomac Boat Club also has a large number of crews entered in several events. A complete list of entries can be found on the official website of Henley Royal Regatta, and a full list of American entries has been posted to the Rowing News website.

You can follow Robert Treharne Jones on Twitter, via @voiceofrowing, as well as @RegattaRadio, and for live updates from the course be sure to follow the @henleyregatta Twitter feed. As you might have guessed, we'll be releasing our own set of picks and predictions for HRR 2012 as we draw closer to the event.

And (while I'm sure that many of you are already familiar with this little Ali G segment), should you be interested in a less-than-regatta-approved look at the event, you can also check out one of the earliest 'Borat' episodes ever recorded by Sasha Baron Cohen, in which he visits the Henley Royal in 2000, and meets with the Dartmouth men's lightweight eight in the Boat Tents following their race. WARNING: It's Borat. Proceed at own risk. (To view Borat's Guide to Henley, follow the link.)

-RR

Monday, June 18, 2012

Video of the Week: Canadian Women's Eight Takes Gold in Munich, FISA Interviews Brzozowicz



The Canadian women laid down a marker in Munich over the weekend, with the U.S. women's eight absent and currently in the process of reshuffling/reloading on home waters for the June 22nd naming date, when the USA men's and women's quads will also be announced, and the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team for London will be complete. The Canadian lineup in Munich featured Princeton grad Lauren Wilkinson (winner of the 2011 RoRy for Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year), another Princeton alum in 2006 grad Andréanne Morin (training for her third Olympics), two-time Big 10 champ with Michigan (and Beijing Olympian in the Canadian W4x), Janine Hanson, Syracuse alum Natalie Mastracci, and 2004 NCAA runner up with Yale, Ashley Brzozowicz, who raced in the CAN W8+ in Beijing along with Morin, and who was recently interviewed by World Rowing, in the video posted above.

The stage is set for a cracker of a final in London, with what will likely be a new-look U.S. crew (with standouts Elle Logan and Erin Cafaro–silver medalists in the W2- at the first two world cups this summer–back in the eight to defend their Olympic title from Beijing) taking on a deep field, as the Dutch, Romanians, Australians, and Brits will all be vying for podium finishes. More to come on these match-ups once the U.S. crews have been announced, and the field that will line up in the starting blocks on Dorney Lake becomes clear.

For more information about the Canadian results in Munich, click here

-RR

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Evening Edition: Video Interviews with Newest U.S. Olympic Team Members, Men's and Women's Pairs



Today marked the finals of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Rowing Trials, and saw two new combinations in the men's and women's pairs take center stage, earning their places in London in style. On the women's side, Sarah Zelenka and Sara Hendershot had an outstanding second 1000m, coming back from nearly two lengths down to defeat teammates and rivals Amanda Polk and Jamie Redman, as Zelenka and Hendershot explain in the video above. The men's race was perhaps less dramatic, but no less impressive, with the new-look duo of 2010 U.S. senior national teamer (and RR interviewee) Silas Stafford and half of last year's U.S. men's pair in Bled, Tom Peszek, taking an early lead and building on it in the second half, finishing roughly two lengths ahead of double Pan American Games champions Ty Otto and Mike Gennaro (click here for a video interview with Otto and Gennaro following Pan Ams).



The men's single was a fairly one-sided contest, with Beijing Olympian and NSR I winner Ken Jurkowski rowing away from the field to win by roughly seven seconds. Jurkowski competed at World Cups I and II, but was unable to crack the top four at either regatta, and so was forced to qualify through Trials–arguably the toughest path to the Olympics, as Jurkowski has repeatedly had to prove that he is the 'top dog' in the men's single in the U.S. against a quality field, as well as race internationally in the interim.

World Cup III is underway in Munich, where the schedule kicked off with the adaptive events today. The official website of World Rowing has published its own 'Who to Watch' article about the event–just follow the link for more information and results to be continually updated throughout the weekend's racing. News from this morning is that Beijing bronze medalist and defending world champion Mahé Drysdale was hit by a car while doing a cycling training session–the decision as to whether or not he will race will be announced tomorrow morning, according to the @nzrowing Twitter feed. Details on his condition can be found on the website of NZRowing.

*Further note on U.S. Olympic Trials: JR and Nareg Guregian were forced to withdraw prior to the semifinal yesterday due to a back injury that JR suffered before to the race (more info on the Rowing Illustrated Boards).

-RR

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 USRowing Youth Nationals: RR Recap and Review

The sun breaks through on Sunday, Melton Lake (Photo: B. Kitch) 
The 2012 edition of USRowing Youth Nationals was an impressive example of the state of rowing at the high school level, with very talented and technically proficient crews taking home top honors in Oak Ridge. Prior to the racing, we did our research and put together what we felt would be a strong set of picks for every event. Let's take a look at how it all turned out, shall we?

The sculling events saw consistently good performances from GMS, headed up by Günter Beutter, with phenom Rosie Grinalds taking home two gold medals within two hours (as we predicted), in the women's single and women's quad. We were five-of-six in our picks for the women's single final, and two-of-three in the medals, as Cicely Madden of CRI placed third (as we predicted), but our pick for fourth, the 14-year-old standout Elizabeth Sharis from Y-Quad Cities (and daughter of Harvard grad and 1992 US Olympian Peter Sharis) had an outstanding regatta, taking silver and adding to her already impressive rowing resume (which includes a world record on the erg for her age group).

In the men's single, we successfully predicted four-of-six A Finalists, and again two-of-three medalists, with our picks for second and third, Chris Wales of Seattle Rowing Center and Bobby Vernazza of Serra HS, moving up a place on the podium into gold and silver medal position. Anthony Criscitiello of Nereid BC (in Nutley, NJ) took third place overall, while out pick for gold, Oliver Salonna of Dallas, fell to sixth place.

The lightweight sculling events, were, well, somewhat difficult to predict. Despite our research, we were only able to pick one-of-six finalists in the women's lightweight double, with our predicted winner, CRI, taking fourth place overall. The first place crew, Emma Landauer and Marygail Dibuono of Pelham Community, was one of a number of strong results from the Pelham Community program over the weekend. In the men's light double, however, we were more successful, picking three-of-six finalists, with our pick to win, GMS, taking silver behind Pacific's Jeff Wang and Jovanni Stefani (whom we mentioned as a potential contender for the A Final).

In the women's double, we again picked five-of-six finalists, and two-of-three medalists, with our top pick, Louisa Freeman and Joanna Gurman of Saugatuck, taking bronze behind the LBRA combination of Jilian Mcgill and Mackenzi Sherman, and Katherine Newmarker and Reilly Hayes of Long Beach Juniors, respectively. The men's double saw our picks for first, second, and fourth do just that, with Narrangansett's Chase Buchholz and Richard Wagner taking first place overall ahead of Ryan Bingham and Gus Magnuson of Vashon Island.

The women's pair final saw all six of our picks battling for a place on the podium, with our top pick, Kendall Chase and Alana Bobka of Mile High, taking home the gold medal. MAC took second, while our pick for third, Upper Natoma, didn't disappoint on Melton Lake. The men's pair final we went three-for six, but picked two-of-three medalists, with our picks for first and second, Saratoga and Los Gatos, trading places–Jordan Vanderstoep and John Chuter of Los Gatos took home the gold, with Saratoga some five seconds back in silver medal position.

In the women's quad, we picked five-of-six finalists, with our picks for first and third, GMS and Seattle Rowing Center, holding up their end of the bargain. Another strong entry from Pelham Community took silver, spoiling our pick of Long Beach (LBRA), who took fourth overall. On the men's side, we were four-for-six, with our predicted winner, New Canaan, taking gold in Oak Ridge.

The men's and women's lightweight fours were again difficult to predict. While we again picked five-of-six finalists on the women's side, and two-of-three medalists in Upper Natoma (our pick for first, finished second) and Manhasset (our pick for second, finished first), the men's lightweight four did not play out the way we anticipated. Our top pick, Norcal, ended up in the C-Final, partly due to an incident of food-poisoning in the crew at the outset of the regatta. Still, we picked two-of-six finalists, and mentioned McCallie as a crew to watch–they proved to be just that, finishing second behind first-place Cincinnati.

We picked three-of-six A Finalists in the women's four, though our picks for first and sixth switched positions, with Commencement Bay taking home the gold, and Mile High rounding out the final. In the men's four, we were five-for-six, with two-of-three medalists once again, this time in the form of Belmont Hill taking silver and Los Gatos (our predicted winner) taking bronze, behind our pick for fourth place, Deerfield.

In the eights, our predictions were strong across the board. The women's lightweight eight was dominated by our top pick, Oakland Strokes, who took the event by nearly 12 seconds ahead of Southwest regional rival, Capital Crew. The men's lightweight eight saw a resurgent Marin take a victory of a length over a tightly packed field, with our predicted winner, Long Beach Juniors, sprinting like mad for a silver ahead of our pick for third place, St. Joseph Prep. In the heavyweight eights, our top two played out as expected, with another excellent Oakland Strokes crew coming back from a narrow defeat by Marin at Southwest Regionals to claim the top spot by more than seven seconds. Marin took second place, ahead of Cincinnati, who were stronger than we had anticipated, not only making the final but medaling. The men's heavyweight eight saw an extremely composed and skilled crew from Marin execute very well despite major distractions and delays, as they were involved in a collision in the warm-up area that destroyed their steering and forced them to return to the dock (and that resulted in two injuries in the Saugatuck boat with whom MRA collided–best wishes to those athletes), pushing back the final for over an hour. Still, the Marin crew pushed out to a lead in the second 500m, continuing to move away at base in the second half of the race, while the battle for second and third place was intense–ultimately, our picks for first (Marin), second (Sarasota), and third (Mt. Baker), played out as expected, with Marin some five seconds up on the field.

For complete results, please visit the official website of USRowing.

Congratulations to all those who raced over the weekend, and let me say that we're very encouraged by the level of talent and dedication in the junior ranks today.

-RR

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Extras from IRAs: The Other Huskies -- Northeastern University Men's Program on the Rise

While the UW 'Dawgs' may be dominant, they're not the only Huskies on the block. The Northeastern University Huskies had a breakout regular season this year, spurred by a very strong sophomore class and backed by what may be an even more talented frosh squad, which posted a bronze medal finish at the 2012 IRA national championships. Under the guidance of head coach John Pojednic, as well as associate head coach Ted Benford, NU posted sweeps of Georgetown, Boston University, and Penn during the 2012 campaign. Following the racing in Camden, I spoke with Coach Pojednic about the recent developments for the Northeastern squad, this year's results, and what to expect in the years to come.

RR: As a head coach, how encouraging is it to see the freshman class perform so well at the IRA?

John Pojednic: Next year will be my thirteenth as head coach, and this is the first point where I feel we've had some real momentum going forward. About 75% of our team is made up of freshmen and sophomores right now, and anytime in the past where we've had a grand final performance it's typically been the case that the whole boat graduates, and that's that–it takes us another three years to get back. So this is the first time that I feel like we really have some traction. And it's no accident–we're fortunate to have a lot going for us right now. We've put a lot of great resources and people in place to help us bring really good athletes here, and to help us build a strong team.

To tell you the truth, I am really happy with how all of our crews raced here. Obviously, we wouldn't have aspired to be in the third level final with the varsity, but there are six sophomores in the boat, and I think, in the end, they showed how fast they could go [the NU varsity won the third final in a time of 5:32.953]. I think we've put s strong foundation in place this year–we're really looking forward to the next couple years here.

RR: One of the real leaders of the squad seems to be former junior world champion Justin Jones (who stroked the NU varsity eight this season), is that right?

JP: I think that's fair to say. What's remarkable about those guys, that sophomore class, is that they came in here at a time when our team was really thin, and medaled at Sprints. They were kind of like the foundation of the team as freshmen, and this year they were building on that again. The first time those guys have been to the IRA was this year, and they're in the varsity eight event–they're just a little inexperienced, but Justin and that whole class have done a fantastic job in being the first layer of bricks in what we're trying to build. I think they're going to feel like they have a lot more guys behind them next season, and I think our younger guys and our great class we have coming in are really going to have some good guys to look up to.

It's kind of a perfect storm of good stuff for us at the moment, with the classes we have coming in, and the change in the freshman rule [the IRA Stewards have decided to change the rule regarding freshmen, allowing first-year students to race in varsity boats beginning next season]. I certainly value freshman rowing, but now it will be our choice in terms of where we put guys for our program. It gives us more flexibility in terms of how we want to run our team, and we want our athletes and coaches to be able to work together, and set lineups based on athletic ability, not age. So, we'll see what it all does, but we are certainly very encouraged by a lot of the things that have unfolded this year.

Thanks very much to Coach Pojednic. For more on the Northeastern program, please visit the official website of the Huskies

-RR

Monday, June 11, 2012

Video of the Week: The Men's Pair at World Cup II in Lucerne, 2012



This week's video comes to us from Lucerne, and features a great early-season match-up between Beijing silver medalists Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen of Canada, and triple world champions Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand. Racing at the 2012 USRowing Olympic Rowing (Qualified Small Boats) Trials begins tomorrow, with a chance to race the above crews in the men's pair at the Olympics this summer in London. Further places on the U.S Olympic Team are up for grabs in the women's pair and men's single. Among those entered in the men's pair event (by far the largest number of entries) are Jamie Koven, who is partnered with Mike Blomquist, as well as Jason Read, teaming up with 2011 U.S. men's eight stroke Nareg Guregian. Mike Gennaro and Ty Otto are back in the pair together after a victory in the Pan American Games last summer (the duo doubled-up and took gold in the eight as well), and Silas Stafford (stroke of the U.S. men's four in 2010) and Tom Peszek have put together an entry, while the 2010 U.S. men's pair from Karapiro–Ryan Monaghan and Deaglan McEachern–will be back in action once again on Mercer Lake, in a talented and deep field. The racing will be included in NBC Sports Network's broadcast of the 2012 Olympic Trials on June 23, 6-7:30pm EDT. A tentative schedule and results (as they become available) can be found on the official website of USRowing.

Also on tap for this week is World Rowing Cup III, which features a great deal of London athletes in what will serve for many as their final tune-up before the Games begin on July 27th. Several of the crews also raced at the Holland Beker regatta over the weekend–follow the links for full results via the event website and a recap of the regatta from World Rowing.

Still to come this week: The 2012 USRowing Youth Nationals, Recap and Review (time to take a second look at our comprehensive picks), and a preview of the final World Cup in Munich.

-RR

Friday, June 8, 2012

2012 USRowing Youth National Championships: RR Picks and Predictions

Here at RowingRelated, we're all about knowledge, and putting knowledge to use. In keeping with this idea, below you'll find the 2012 RR Picks and Predictions for USRowing Youth Nationals–a more comprehensive list of predictions full of information you won't find anywhere else–as well as crews to watch, courtesy of the RR Research Department. SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you wish to know what is going to happen this weekend in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Women's 1x:
We expect to see a serious battle in this event between Harvard bound Rosie Grinalds from GMS (formerly of Connecticut Boat Club) and last year's winner Stanford bound Taylor Burdge from Tampa. Don't be surprised if the young up and coming phenom Elizabeth Sharis makes some serious noise this weekend and gets on the medal stand. and Cicely Madden from CRI (formerly of BB&N) will also be in the medal hunt. Look for Syracuse bound Alex Zadravec of GMS and young Kendall Brewer of Texas Rowing Center to round out the final. Victoria Bujala will also be looking to crack the final, but might find herself on the outside looking in when Sunday's finals arrive in this loaded event.

1. Rosie Grinalds (GMS)
2. Taylor Burdge (Tampa)
3. Cicely Madden (CRI)
4. Elizabeth Sharis (Y-Quad Cities)
5. Alex Zadravec (GMS)
6. Kendall Brewer (Texas Rowing Center)

Men's 1x:
We are picking Oliver Salonna who has gone sub-6:10 on the erg from Dallas to win this year's event. Though we expect some serious competition from the likes of Seattle Rowing Center's Chris Wales coached by Conal Groom, Bobby Vernazza of Serra High School and Ezra Carlson from Humboldt. Max Ferguson from Miami Beach Rowing Club and Isaac Mocarski from Narragansett Boat Club in Rhode Island will also be in the conversation.

1. Oliver Salonna (Dallas Rowing Club)
2. Chris Wales (Seattle Rowing Center)
3. Bobby Vernazza (Serra)
4. Max Ferguson (Miami Beach)
5. Ezra Carlson (Humboldt)
6. Isaac Mocarski (Narragansett)

LW2x:
We are picking the CRI duo of Beth Kazimer and Lena Randle, finalists in this event at last year's regatta, to win this event, although they will be pressed by Seattle Rowing Center's Brianna Loudoux and Nicole Lukas and River City Rowing Club's Amy Platencamp and Eleni Spanos. The other crew to watch will be the New Canaan combination of Bea Tobey and Veronica Hoeft who will be back to win in 2013 if they don't pull it off this weekend.

1. CRI
2. Seattle Rowing Center
3. New Canaan
4. River City Rowing Club
5. South Jersey
6. Sarasota

LM2x:
We are picking a state of Connecticut sweep in men's light weight double. The GMS combination of Blaze Kelly and Michael Senf will be very strong should battle with the Francisco Viacava coached Miami Beach Rowing CLub entry of Lucas Di Lena and Fernando Tavara. Y-Quad Cities' John and Chris Tinsman will be looking to get in the medals. The Norwalk crew of Stefan Petreski and Kyle Mikesh will also have some good speed as will the GMS B entry of Jake Snyder and Tim Kile. We are selecting Zak Jatkowski and Andrew Seslei from Detroit to round out the final with malvern, St. Joe Prep and Pacific all fighting to get in as well.

1. GMS
2. Miami Beach Rowing Club
3. Y-Quad Cities
4. Norwalk
5. GMS B
6. Detroit Boat Club

Women's 2x:
This should prove to be a great final when Sunday rolls around as we will see some well-trained, well-coached athletes in this event. We are backing the Saugatuck entry of Louisa Freeman and Jo Gurman. The Long Beach Rowing Association and the GMS entry will be very strong. Each of them includes a member of the 2011 Junior National Team quad that finsihed 4th in Eton last August (Mackenzi Sherman will be in the Long Beach boat and includes Erin Reelick will be racing for GMS). Vashon Island will be strong with Emily Kehoe and Avalon Koenig. The Orlando crew of Christine Cavallo and Elizabeth Kelley and the Long Beach Junior Crew of Katy Newmarker and Reilly Hayes are no slouches either. It should be quite the battle! Conestoga, Y-Quad Cities, Lake Union and Stanford Rowing Center will be hoping to upset a crew or two to get in the final.

1. Saugatuck
2. Long Beach Rowing Association
3. GMS
4. Vashon Island
5. Orlando Area Rowing
6. Long Beach Junior Crew

Men's 2x:
Narragansett is the favorite and should have the right combination of power, skill and experience in Robert Wagner and Chase Buchholz to get the job done when it counts. Look for a challenge from Vashon Island's Ryan Bingham and Gus Magnuson and Malvern's Robert Smith and Chris Frey. The other crew to watch is Humboldt which will feature Ezra Carlson doubling from the 1x. Dallas, Saratoga and Miami Beach will also be hoping to make a statement.

1. Narragansett
2. Vashon Island
3. Malvern
4. Humboldt
5. Conestoga
6. Brophy

Women's 2-:
This is another loaded event that will feature a lot of future Division I collegiate talent. There are three future Cal Bears in the event in Kendall Chase, Savannah Eldridge and Clara Nowinski. The Saratoga pair of Caroline Murphy and Alexis Georgia can also move a pair very well. Detroit's A entry of Casey Wizner and Janney Brennan will pack some good speed as will the Marina Aquatic Center and Commencement Bay pairs who we are picking to round out the fianl. Seattle, Norwalk and the Detroit "B" entry will also be hunting for the final.

1. Mile High
2. Saratoga
3. Upper Natoma
4. Detroit
5. Marina Aquatic Center
6. Commencement Bay

Men's 2-:
This should be a strong event with Arik Torkelson (headed to Cornell in the Fall) and Liam Casey from Saratoga battling it out with Los Gatos' Jordan Vanderstoep (2011 Junior national Team member) and John Chuter. Both those cres are doubling into the four as well. Radnor's and William Aftring and James Purtill will push for the meadals as will the St. Andrews entry. We think the Sarasota and Olympia Area Rowing entries will be racing for the top 6 on Sunday as well. Oakland, Brookline and Newport RC will also be vying for top spots.

1. Saratoga
2. Los Gatos
3. Radnor
4. St. Andrews
5. Olympia Area Rowing
6. Sarasota

Women's 4x:
This will be a fantastic event with top notch athletes and a very high level. We are picking the GMS entry to win going away. With the combination of talent and coaching in the boat, they will be too fast for the rest of the field. Long Beach Rowing Association will row a very sound, mature race and should finish in the medals. Expect to see a push from Conal Groom's Seattle Rowing Center quad led by Lena Jaffe who will be rowing at Georgetown in the Fall.

1. GMS
2. Long Beach Rowing Association
3. Seattle Rowing Center
4. Conestoga
5. Long Beach Junior Crew
6. Miami Beach

Men's 4x:
We think it will be another Connecticut team to win it all in the men's quad. The New Canaan entry led by two-time 4x Youth National Champion and 2011 Junior National Team member Jonathon Rosow and coached by Yan Vengerovskiy will be very hard to stop. Malvern's entry which features Alex Stoczko should be in the medal hunt along with the Nick D'Antoni Long Beach quad stroked by Allen Reitz.

1. New Canaan
2. Malvern
3. Long Beach
4. Conestoga High School
5. Sammamish
6. Vashon Island
Seattle Rowing Center and River City Rowing Club will also be trying to get into the final

Women's lightweight 4+:
1. Upper Natoma
2. Manhasset
3. Blair
4. Lakeside
5. Dayton
6. Miami Beach

Men's Lightweight 4+:
We are picking a west coast sweep in this event with the NorCal crew leading the way led by Jackson Horowitz and Luke Prioleau (related to OCC head coach and former US Olympic Team member Paul Prioleau and his son Will who raced for OCC and Cal). We are picking Los Gatos and Newport Aquatic Center to round out the medals after failing to qualify their lightweight eight.

1. NorCal
2. Los Gatos
3. Newport
4. Miami Beach
5. Cincinnati
6. Westerville
McCallie will also be fighting for a place in the final.

Women's 4+:
This is another pretty talent-laden event. We are picking the Mile High entry to win this one, though they will have to deal with Alana Bobka and Kendall Chase doubling from the pair. Capital City led by stroke seat Karla McDaniel will be making a serious run to see if they can overcome the tired legs in the Mile High boat. Pittsford will also make a run at the medals after winning the event in dominant fashion last year. We think Radnor, Mercer and Commencement Bay will all be in the final with St. Louis and Xavier Prep trying to find their way in.

1. Mile High
2. Capital City
3. Pittsford
4. Radnor
5. Mercer
6. Commencment Bay

Men's 4+:
We are picking the Los Gatos four to take this one with a boat full of talented guys upset that they are not competing in the eight this weekend, though they will have to deal with some tired legs from Vanderstoep and Chuter's races in the pair.

1. Los Gatos
2. Belmont Hill
3. MAC
4. Deerfield
5. Saratoga
6. Sarasota
Green Lake will have high hopes as well.

Women's Lightweight 8+:
CRI is the defending champion, but we are looking for a very strong crew from Oakland to take first place this year in Oak Ridge.

1. Oakland
2. CRI
3. Capital Crew
4. Los Gatos
5. Bainbridge Island
6. Detroit

Men's Lightweight 8+:
This will be a fierce west coast battle between Long Beach and Marin. Marin won early in the year, while Long Beach came on strong at Southwest Junior Regionals to take the crown over Marin. They have had five weeks of training since regionals to prepare for this one. We are picking Nick D'Antoni's Long Beach crew to defeat Graham Willoughby's Marin 8. St. Joe Prep will be hungry to prove that the east coast can produce a lightweight 8 of the same caliber.

1. Long Beach
2. Marin
3. St. Joe Prep
4. Oakland
5. CRI
6. Miami

Women's 8+:
Derek Byrnes has led his very talented and deep Oakland Strokes squad to an almost unblemished season dating back to their win at the Head of the Charles in October. Their only loss came at the hands of last year's National Champion Marin crew five weeks ago at Southwest Junior Regionals. This should be a pretty impressive battle, as Sandy Armstrong knows how to get her crew to peak and perform when it counts, but Derek has had five weeks to respond and make adjustments since regionals. We are picking Oakland in a barn burner. The James Madison crew will be looking to prove last year was no fluke as they return most members of last year's eight. They are coached by Paul Allbright and two very impressive sets of sisters in the boat. After graduating a bunch of seniors from last year's team, Liz Trond has done a marvelous job in a rebuilding year and they will be very much in the discussion for medals this weekend.

1. Oakland
2. Marin
3. James Madison
4. Connecticut Boat Club
5. Mount St. Joseph
6. Saratoga
CRI and New Trier will also be fighting for a spot in the final.

Men's 8+:
We are picking Marin to win this one by open water. Graham Willoughby has a machine running in Northern California. They return many members of last year's undefeated national Champion crew including 2011 Junior National Team members Greg Stein and Patrick Konttinen and have not lost a step. The battle for the medals should be pretty wide open, but we think the Sarasota and Mt. Baker crews are the best of the rest and they certainly have their eyes set on the medal stand.

1. Marin
2. Sarasota
3. Mt. Baker
4. Cincinnati
5. Central Catholic
6. Everett
La Salle and St. Augustine will be trying to get in the mix as well.

So there you have it–our most comprehensive picks to date, hot off the digital press and ready for the weekend. Good luck to all crews racing in Oak Ridge, and we look forward to seeing how it all turns out when the races are run and the finals are done.

-The RR Editorial Staff