Monday, July 30, 2012

RR Olympics Blog: Aussie, GB Crews Putting on a Clinic on Day Three at Dorney



The weather has held up (for the most part) at Eton Dorney over the first three days of racing, with the wind pushing crews down the course in record time–taking nothing away from the rowers, of course. There is a ton of chat about the GB men's four and women's double over here, as you might imagine–today's events certainly didn't take away from the excitement, as the Australian women's double, featuring arguably the best overall athlete on the women's side at the Olympic Regatta, Kim Crow, won their heat, just after Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins stormed down the course to victory in 6:44.

This was followed by the Australian men's four, built around three-time Olympic gold medalist Drew Ginn, looking absolutely outstanding in the first heat of three heats, winning in another Olympic Best Time of 5:47 despite leading by open water seemingly from 250m into the race. The GB crew then took center stage, with three of the four that won gold in Beijing (Andy Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, and Tom James) back for another barn burner with the Aussies in the final–in fact, the GB four were faster than Australia through 1000m (GB M4-: 2:50.9, AUS: 2:51.37). In heat three, the top U.S. crew looked great as well–clearly the class of the field in the final heat (which included an excellent crew from Greece that won silver last year in Bled), the U.S. led all the way down the course, and appear to be poised for a podium finish.

Check out the photo gallery above for a look at the dramatic skies over Dorney Lake, and see the Monday write-up on RowingNews.com for a full rundown of all the races today.

-Bryan

Video of the Week: Kiwis Calm, Cool and Collected (and Funny) in London



There's no disputing that the Kiwi national rowing team is fast–in fact, Rowing New Zealand is the top squad in the world in terms of medals per capita. However, despite their clear dedication, intense training, and aggressive approach on the water, they also know how to relax, have fun, and keep from taking everything too seriously. The above video show just that, and was published just hours after Hamish Bond and Eric Murray destroyed the previous world best time in the men's pair by six seconds. Though the women's quad suffered a devastating setback in the final strokes of their repechage earlier today, snapping a blade after having comeback from sixth into third (and into qualifying position), the rest of the Kiwi team have posted solid performances, and looks on pace for another great year.

More updates to follow from London in the next RR Olympics Blog, and, in the meantime, take a look at the Sunday and Monday race reports posted to RowingNews.com.

-RR

Saturday, July 28, 2012

RR Olympics Blog: Rowing Kicks off at Eton Dorney



Trip to the course: 
The first day of the 2012 Olympic Regatta was one for the ages -- quite a show that these athletes put on and a fantastic way to kick off the racing at the Games. Getting to the course was quite an adventure this morning -- hop on the train at 6:52am, change trains, arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside, queue for a double-decker bus in front of Windsor Castle, arrive at the temporary bus terminal (field), walk roughly one mile, queue to enter the venue, walk another mile, arrive at the entrance to the race course, and, finally, walk however many meters up the course it is to your seat/office arrangement. Certainly pays to bring comfortable shoes. (Photo gallery included above from the trip to the course.)

Olympic racing begins:
The weather was ideal today and the times reflected that -- four new Olympic best times, one of which was also a new world's best time (the incredible Kiwi pair's 6:08 performance). While this boat is undoubtedly the favorite, I've some trouble believing that they are truly 15 seconds faster than Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen of Canada -- conditions and times can be very tricky here, and when it's a direct tail, look out! The same can be said for the U.S. men's victory in the eight this morning -- a solid performance against a very high quality opponent in Australia (also, just in case you've forgotten, Poland made the final last year in Bled, and won the Munich World Cup, and Ukraine was the crew that edged the U.S. men's eight out of qualification in Slovenia last year -- both of these crews were out the back in the heat). While Germany posted a time five seconds faster than that of the U.S. to win their heat, the difference between heat times was all over the map all day (another example: Tim Maeyens setting a new Olympic standard some seven seconds faster than Mahé Drysdale and 11 seconds faster than Ondrej Synek -- Maeyens is unquestionably very good, but quite a difference a heat makes). Germany are, of course, the favorites, but certainly a step in the right direction for the U.S. crew. Canada, on the other hand, had a bit of a strange race in what was the harder heat on paper -- having started out very strong (second place through 500m), the crew faded by the 1000m mark, and took it down significantly in the final 250m. Gamesmanship?

Two other notable performances -- the U.S. women's pair had an outstanding showing against the crew that could be considered the favorites entering the Games in Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain. The 'Sara(h) Pair' held onto the Brits all the way down the course, eventually finishing roughly bow to stern on the 2012 World Rowing Cup champions. Also, the U.S. women's quad had a strong race, battling to stay in touch with Germany–a favorite for the podium, though I've got my doubts about anyone taking down Ukraine in this event. 

For a full rundown of the days events, check out the my article '2012 Olympics, Day One: Fast Times at Eton Dorney,' now posted to RowingNews.com. And for officially sanctioned, publicly posted photos from the regatta venue, check out the World Rowing Facebook Olympics Gallery.

More to come tomorrow as the next round of heats kicks off in the women's eight, and lightweight men's and women's doubles.

-Bryan

Friday, July 27, 2012

RR Op-Ed: On the Line in London–Can Anyone Beat 'Ze Germans?'



The German men's eight has been nothing short of dominant for the past four years–controlled, smooth, and efficient, the crew has set the standard for speed since Beijing. That winning streak will see its greatest challenge at Eton-Dorney this week and the next, as the DRV (Deutscher Ruderverband) look to put an exclamation point on an outstanding quadrennium. Can anyone beat them? If anyone's going to do it, then the challenger will have to match the speed of the German eight in the second 500m.

Obviously, the Germans know how to get off the line–they've gone wire-to-wire a number of times over the past four years en route to victory, often posting times faster than 1:20 in the first 500m. But, looking over the data from the past three seasons, as well as the World Rowing Cups this year, it's more often the second 500m where they stake their claim and build their margin over the field. The fact is, everyone has a slower second 500m than first 500m, but the difference is nearly always slightly less in the case of the German men's eight–in other words, they do not take their feet off the gas after crossing the first 500m mark, and consistently outpace the field in the second 500m by more than they did in the first 500m. This gives them a clear advantage by the 1000m mark–a position from which they are comfortable responding to attacks and fending off challenges. Once they are in a position of control, they are simply too good–they are not going to die in the final stretch.

Taking a look at the Poznan World Championships in 2009, the Germans and Canadians came out of the blocks with guns blazing, both crews on 1:17 through 500m. However, the Canadian crew came through the 1000m mark down by more than a second and a half–the Germans posted a time of 1:20.82 in the second 500m, and continued to edge out throughout the second half of the race. Karapiro was, in many ways, an anomale for the German crew, as their second 500m was decidedly unspectacular by their own standards, slowing from a 1:21.76 pace to a 1:24.62. The difference? They had a two second lead over second place GB by the first marker, and managed their efforts extremely well through the body of the race, keeping enough in reserve to lay down a 1:21.75 on the way to the line to hold off a British surge.

Last year in Bled, the German men's eight executed to perfection. Leading by roughly one second at 500m into the race, they pressed on, taking an advantage of more than two seconds over second place GB by the 1000m mark–where the race was won. After that point, the Germans essentially matched pace with the GB crew, carrying that two second advantage across the line.

Given this, you're not going to defeat the German men's eight unless you hold onto them through the halfway point. The GB men's eight did a fantastic job attacking in the final of the Belgrade World Rowing Cup earlier this year, leading through the 1000m mark, but couldn't match pace in the second half of the race. This speaks both to the gutsy nature of the crew from Team GB, as well as to the confidence of the German combination, showing poise and composure despite unfamiliar circumstances. Perhaps the key, then, is not to try to lead the Germans across the 500m or even the 1000m mark–the Brits paid dearly for their fast first 1000m in Belgrade, falling to the DRV crew by roughly three seconds by the time they crossed the finish–instead, it may be that to hold on, and not allow the German crew to build a lead of more than one second is the key to throwing down a serious challenge for gold.

Maturity and race management will be on full display as the Olympic Regatta kicks off tomorrow morning, and everyone knows that GB will be gunning to turn silver into gold before the home crowd. In our opinion, the only way to accomplish that goal is to position yourself well in relation to the favorites. If the British crew can manage to hold on well enough to Germany through the 1000m mark, then they just might be able to achieve something truly special in the final stretch. However, as the 2010 world championship final showed, the Germans are not going to crack under the pressure. If a crew were to defeat Germany, that crew will truly earn the victory–they'll be nothing gift-wrapped in Eton this summer.

-RR

Thursday, July 26, 2012

RR Olympics Blog: Travel and Arrival in London



After a hectic 24 hours, I've arrived safely in London and have set up in Barnes, where I'll be staying for the duration of the trip (which will mean heading out to Eton on the train each day for the rowing events at Dorney Lake). It's fantastic being back in town–having lived in London from 2007-2008, this is a chance to visit friends and old haunts, as well as experience something entirely new. There is evidence of the Games throughout the city, as you might expect, with many of the main streets decorated with banners, sidewalk (pavement) art, and shop owners doing all they can (given the strict enforcement of the London 2012 trademark/branding from LOCOG) to celebrate the Olympics with window displays and posters.

Of note: Heathrow wasn't crowded when I arrived–not even a long queue for customs–and the number of London 2012 employees on hand was impressive. The trip into town went much more smoothly than it might have had I been on an official Olympics bus–real journos ride the Picadilly Line. Also, while this has been one of the rainiest summers on record in England, the weather has turned over the past week. When I hiked up out of the Underground at Mansion House yesterday afternoon, it was roughly 80 degrees in Central London, with blue skies overhead–rumor is that the weather will return to old habits during the Games, but it has been beautiful for the last several days.

Keep an eye on RowingNews.com for daily updates and photos from Eton, with the racing kicking off on Saturday morning. More to come from London!

-Bryan

Monday, July 23, 2012

Video of the Week: The French Men's Quad Trains for London – Stage Terminal



This week's video comes to us from France, showcasing the French men's quadruple sculls (Adrien Hardy, Pierre-Jean Peltier, Matthieu Androdias, and Benjamin Chabanet) as these athletes enter the final stages of training for the Games in London. Not only are there some very nice shots of sculling, the video is accompanied by the Ride of the Valkyries (at least to start), and features a quick look at three seat Pierre-Jean Peltier's basketball skills (at roughly 0:48). Then, we get right down to business–with one switch from last season's C Final-winning combination, this crew appears to have found some speed this year, having taken fourth at the first World Rowing Cup in Belgrade, and having edged out the Czech Republic (by roughly one tenth of a second) for second place behind Estonia at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. The crew stumbled a little at the Munich World Cup stop, placing 11th overall, but will look to better that result and continue the momentum from the early season in London.

In sum, this is a solid training video with a healthy bit of banter thrown in for good measure. 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.

-RR

Friday, July 20, 2012

Video: Training on the Olympic Course at Eton, with Silas Stafford and Tom Peszek



Much of the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team is now on the scene in London, and training on the Olympic course at Eton. Conditions have been a solid introduction to the course, with some wind, chop, clouds and rain–some of which is evident in the above video. Shot during a session on Dorney Lake, the video shows bow seat Tom Peszek's view of the course, and stroke (and RR interviewee) Silas Stafford, as the duo rows from the finish up to the start line, with a few drills along the way, and a brief glimpse of the U.S. women's eight in the starting queue.

Racing is now just over a week away, with the heats for the women's pair, women's quad, men's eight, men's double, men's lightweight four, men's quad, men's pair, and men's and women's single (in that order) set for Saturday, July 28th, 2012. For a complete schedule, please follow this link to NBCOlympics.com, and check out more videos from Tom Peszek on his YouTube Channel.

Looking forward to heading to London to cover the Olympics for Rowing News magazine and RowingNews.com–keep an eye out for updates throughout next week on both RR and RN, as the Games begin!

-RR

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top Places to Visit in London, with Pete Reed of the GB Men's Four

Trafalgar Square, London (Photo: B. Kitch)
Last week, we caught up with former Cambridge Blue and U.S. men's pair stroke, Silas Stafford, about his favorite London haunts, and, this week, we've asked defending Olympic champion Pete Reed of Team GB to share his thoughts on the matter. It looks like the Stafford and Reed agree in several cases! Here are Pete's thoughts on the top places to visit in London, in no particular order:

1) La Trompette, Devonshire Road in Chiswick, W4
I can only afford to go there once or twice a year, but I've never had a single course there which is anything less than perfect. This is my favourite restaurant by a considerable margin.

2) Trafalgar Square
With Lord Nelson's immortal monument [see photo above] commanding the whole West End and as a Royal Naval Officer, this is a place of personal significance to me as well as a beautiful square in the city's cultural epicentre.

3) Knightsbridge
From the world famous Natural History Museum to Harrods and then to Hyde Park all within a short walk, you will run out of hours before you've finished the day here. When the sun does set, I hope you have booked into the Royal Albert Hall on the south side of the park.

4) Westminster
(Not far from Trafalgar Square) Downing Street, The Military Buildings, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, the South Bank to the London Eye and the Tate Modern. Absorb some of our greatest history, architecture and diversity.

5) The Tower of London
With a walk across Tower Bridge, and back west on the south side to the Borough Market on Saturdays. London bustling, busy, friendly and historical.

6) My Home

I hope you enjoy our city,

-Pete Reed

Thanks very much to Pete for the information and input! Follow the links above for information on each of the places mentioned above, and for more from Pete Reed, please visit his website at www.petereed.com

-RR

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

USRowing Releases Roster for 2012 Senior and Junior Worlds

USRowing released the official roster for 2012 Senior and Junior Worlds this morning, and on the list are a number of very familiar faces. The senior team includes last year's fourth place finisher in the lightweight men's single, Andrew Campbell, who will be gunning for the podium in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, as will Beijing Olympian Will Daly (racing in the men's pair along with Notre Dame grad, two-time C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints champ, and RR interviewee Greg Flood), following the duo's near miss in the LM2x at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. Flood, who made the final eight competing for selection in the LM4- this year, will be appearing at his first senior worlds–likely with many more to come.

The men's pair with coxswain includes Justin Stangel, who took ninth overall in the men's pair last year at worlds along with former partner Tom Peszek (now slotted to race in London with Silas Stafford as the USA M2-), and former junior national champion with Pacific Rowing Club, UW Husky, and 2008 U23 world champ in the USA BM8+, Blaise Didier. Coxswain Stephen Young makes his second appearance at senior worlds, having competed in the M2+ and LM8+ in 2010.

Lightweight women's indoor world record holder Ursula Grobler will be looking to better her fourth place finish in Bled in the LW1x, and Hillary Saeger and Lindsay Hochman will looking to crack the podium once again (following last year's bronze medal performance in the lightweight women's quad at worlds), this time with 2011 Pan Am double bronze medalists Michelle Sechser and Chelsea Smith in the LW4x.

As for the junior team, many of the lineups have yet to be announced, as selection is ongoing. However, we do know that 2012 double USRowing youth national champion Rosie Grinalds of GMS will be competing in the JW4x, along with Elizabeth Sharis (at just 15 years of age), third place Cicely Madden and Alexandra Zadravec–first through fourth place in the JW1x in Oak Ridge this year. Coaching this crew will be the very competent and talented Günter Beutter. Last year's RoRy winner for Female Athlete of the Year at the junior level, Mia Croonquist, has also been named to the roster, but has not been named to a crew at this point, as has 2012 C.R.A.S.H.-B. silver medalist Ruth Narode.

On the junior men's side, Narrangansett's runaway national champions Chase Buchholz and Breck Wagner will represent the U.S. in the JM2x, and two-time national champion Peter Woolley of Marin Rowing Association will join teammates Riley Overfield (coxswain) and Julian Goldman in the sweep events at worlds this year, with MRA men's head coach Graham Willoughby looking after the JM8+. Los Gatos RC's John Chuter (2012 youth national champ in the pair, bronze in the four with coxswain) will be racing in the men's pair along with Aaron McAvey of Don Bosco Prep, while John's brother, Ben (bronze in the JM4+ with John at youth nationals this year) has also been named to the sweep team.

For a look at the complete roster, please visit RowingNews.com.

-RR

Monday, July 16, 2012

Video of the Week: Training in the Lightweight Pair with Adam Freeman-Pask



This week's video comes to us from Adam Freeman-Pask of Team GB, and showcases some very fine pairs rowing along with some chilled out tunes, reminiscent of a Drew Ginn production. Freeman-Pask (shown in the video above training with Chris Boddy) has consistently placed himself in contention for international medals in both sculling and sweep events over the past several years. 2012 has been Freeman-Pasks most successful year to date, with three straight World Rowing Cup victories (though in an unconventional way–after winning the LM2- in Belgrade with new partner former world champ in the LM4- Paul Mattick, Freeman-Pask won the LM1x in Lucerne, and then finished off the World Cup season in Munich with another win in the LM2-, again with Mattick). At 27 years of age, Freeman-Pask has a lot of strokes yet to take, and will likely be one of the rising stars in the GB lightweight men's squad as Team GB prepares for Rio.

Check out more videos from Adam Freeman-Pask (including this Varese timelapse piece) via his YouTube Channel. 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.

-RR

Friday, July 13, 2012

Top Places to Visit in London, with Silas Stafford of the U.S. Men's Pair

Oysters at Borough Market (Photo: B. Kitch)
Silas Stafford, who recently punched his ticket to London in the men's pair at Olympic Trials along with partner Tom Peszek, knows a bit more about 'Blighty' than your average American. From 2008-2009, Stafford attended The University of Cambridge, and stroked the CUBC Blue Boat in the 2009 Boat Race. While most of his time in the United Kingdom was taking up with rowing and studying in Cambridge, Stafford came to know London as well, and will be looking forward to visiting old haunts following the racing on Dorney Lake. Here are Stafford's top picks for places to visit in London, in no particular order:

1. Historical Pubs
The George Inn in Southwark [near to Borough Market–see below], and The Blackfriar [in, where else, Blackfriars] come to mind as my favorites.

2. Westminster Abbey
Lots of famous people buried here. Go for evensong service for free admission and beautiful English choral music.

3. Tate Modern
Very cool architecture, (sometimes) cool art. Very different from other museums. [RR aside: There is an outstanding view of London to be had from the museum restaurant, overlooking the Millenium Bridge and St. Paul's.] 

4. Tower of London
Can be a tourist trap, but it is undoubtedly the best castle to visit, and it covers all the medieval bases–moats, torture chambers, swords, jewels, portcullises, and loads of history. [RR aside: Also, it's just across from the iconic Tower Bridge, which boasts a set of Olympic Rings for the Games right now.] 

5. Borough Market
I'm a great appreciator of food, and this is the best farmers market I've ever seen.

6. Regents Park
I love parks (London is filled with them), and this is my favorite.

Thanks very much to Silas! Check out the links above for more information on each of the places mentioned. Coming up next week, we've also asked Pete Reed of the GB men's four about his picks for top places to visit in London. 

-RR

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Olympic Banter Looking Up: Rowing Journal is 'Phelan Funny'

One of the 'modified' versions via @RowingJournal
With the Games just 16 days away, the excitement is building, and so is the banter. We're aware that Iain Weir of Rowing Journal knows a thing or two about photography, but the mastery of Photoshop on display in this post, lampooning the recent photo series from The Guardian (UK), is, well, breathtaking. The original, which is part of a series entitled, 'Olympic Bodies: British Athletes - in pictures,' is posted to The Guardian's website, and features GB oarsman Mohamed Sbihi alongside coxswain Phelan (for the U.S. audience, that's pronounced 'feelan') Hill, in what might be called a study in contrast–sitting in the five seat of the GB men's eight, Sbihi is one of the tallest athletes in the squad, and weighs in at 104kg, while Hill maintains the minimum weight for a coxswain at 55kg.

Many of the athletes that will make up Team USA at the Games were gearing up to depart for Europe today, sparking a bit of a Twitter frenzy (searchable via #GoTeamUSA, which is 'trending' nationwide). In the midst of all this, one of the stars of the above photo, Phelan Hill, seems to have successfully pleaded the case for coxswains a place in Megan Kalmoe's famous (infamous?) 'List' for 2012, following Ned DelGuercio's notable appearance last year, checking in at #18. While it may be early to start the nominations, in the words of Hill, "what else is there to do on camp when not training?" 

All of which begs the question, will there be open nominations this year? And further, has Phelan done enough to secure himself a bid for The List 2012?

-RR

Monday, July 9, 2012

Video of the Week: Olympics Now 18 Days Away – Leave Your Legacy


#leaveyourlegacy from Hooded Trees on Vimeo.

The 2012 Olympic Games are now just over 18 days away, and the above video, which comes to us from Stanford University, gets at just what it means strive, unrelentingly, for greatness. The message, delivered by Ray Lewis to the Stanford men's basketball team prior to a game last season, applies not only to sport, but to life, and the video makes that clear. Add to this some footage of the Stanford men's rowing team training on San Francisco Bay, and you've got a winner for RR 'Video of the Week,' as we build toward London.

It's a video that should be watched more than once–like the athletes and artists showcased in the piece, the creators of this short film understand that moments of pure joy; excellence; greatness; do not arise out of nothing, but are instead the beautiful results of countless hours of wholly dedicated time, and effort. These moments, then, transcend their specific contexts and tap into something bigger. As Lewis says, "Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge effort, because effort is between you, and you." Here, we see beyond glory of the Olympic stadium, and into the darkest hours of the morning, when dreams are all that light the way to the first of the day's three, or four, or however many training sessions. How will you leave your legacy?

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.

-RR

Friday, July 6, 2012

Two Oarsome Australians: FISA Interviews Kim Crow and Drew Ginn



The Australian national rowing team is perhaps stronger than ever, with competitive crews across the board, boasting some of the most impressive individual talent anywhere in the world. Kim Crow is among those, having medaled at the world level as both a sweep rower and sculler, and having shown this summer that she is a force to be reckoned with not only double (following a silver medal in Bled last year, and another at the Munich World Rowing Cup stop last month along with partner Brooke Pratley), but also the single–incredibly, just days after winning the women's single at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Crow went on to take a silver medal at the Lucerne World Cup behind only perennial contender Xiuyun Zhang of China, and ahead of 2011 world champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic.



Drew Ginn and his new-look 'Oarsome Foursome' are looking like they could provide some serious fireworks in London this summer, having gotten the racing season started with a bang at the Lucerne World Cup, where the Aussies pressed the flagship GB four all the way to the line. The combination of Drew Ginn, Josh Dunkley-Smith, James Chapman and Will Lockwood backed up this performance by beating the GB crew in their final two head-to-head races before the Olympics, winning both the semifinal and the final of the Munich World Cup. With both the AUS and GB national teams looking so strong entering the Olympics, former Australian great James Tomkins has described the upcoming Games as an 'Ashes' battle. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, 'The Ashes' was first a Test cricket series played between Australia and England–more from Wikipedia–and has since been applied to AUS-GB rivalry more generally.)

The Olympic Games are now just over 21 days away, with the rowing events set to begin on July 28th, the day after the Opening Ceremonies.

-RR

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Voice of Henley Royal Regatta: Behind the Scenes at Regatta Radio with Rebecca Caroe

Regatta Radio co-founder George Thomas presenting (Photo: R. Caroe)
For many out-of-town and overseas Henley Royal Regatta supporters, Regatta Radio provides a window unlike any other into the event, taking pains to be as thorough and knowledgeable as possible while keeping the tone light and the banter flowing. Interviews have also become an important part of this particular RR's broadcast schedule, and included a conversation with Harvard head coach Harry Parker this year (just prior to his heavyweight varsity eight's victory in the Ladies' Plate over Leander, by a margin of 1 foot). Here, Rowperfect.co.uk's Rebecca Caroe gives us an inside look at the history and running of Regatta Radio:

Regatta Radio is now a fixture at Henley–it’s the only temporary radio station dedicated to rowing for 10 days a year. Broadcasting from a shack behind the famous Leander club, the outfit is now an established part of the Royal Regatta.

Martin Unsworth (Photo: R. Caroe)
Martin Unsworth was involved from the first year of operation, and he recalls, “It was very agricultural - we used mobile phones to commentate and we were perched up a tree or on a boat. It was a big learning curve.” Along with founders George Thomas and Charles Wiggin, the idea of a live race commentary that gave out more information than the official one took root, and the team sought support from local business sponsors.

Acquiring a broadcast license was simple and the Stewards continue to be supportive, allowing Regatta Radio to broadcast from within the Enclosures; Leander Club also give us a corner of their car park for the portacabin headquarters.

Pundit and journalist, Rachel Quarrell, is a regular on the team. She remembers, “The early years was exciting and exhilarating. What we didn't expect was the listeners were so into it - they were visiting the studio asking for ‘shout outs’ on air saying we're from this Rowing Club and this is amazing. We started getting phone calls to the studio - the GB womens quad training 10 miles away in Caversham were listening in and they called and requested an interview!”

Putting together the running order for the day (Photo: R. Caroe)
Today the team has paid staff and an army of volunteer commentators, presenters, and technicians. All the gear is rented, but gaining input from BBC radio professionals and advertising revenues means the operation gets sharper and smarter each year. Martin Unsworth says, “What began as a lifestyle hobby has turned into a business employing 6 people.”

Production Manager, Danny Cox, has been on the team five years. He describes his job as “making good radio.” Broadcasting 24 hours a day means they are smart with their content. Danny explains, “Our team of commentators produce online output and I am responsible for everything that goes around it from the jingles to the commercials. We package the content for example an interview on day 1 which was broadcast live would also be recorded, edited; pieced together with music, inserted into our computerized system and it'll play out several times a day.”

But the operation still has its delights–Will Smith the Commentary Coordinator is front line for problem solving. “Part of its charm is that it's not a finely tuned machine yet - one of the things that is quintessentially British,” Smith says. “It's a bit romantic - things go wrong all the time, like technical issues, and I have to race down the lane on a bicycle to a commentary station to try and fix things.”

The mixing desk (Photo: R. Caroe)
This year’s innovations include veteran broadcaster, Steve Rider doing face-to-face interviews with rowing celebrities like Sir Steve Redgrave, and Mike Sweeney, the Chairman of the Stewards. Rachel Quarrel says “I enjoy the interviews they do with really interesting people. I listen on the drive home and they always seem to be in the middle of an interesting interview when I'm going out of the broadcast range at Nettlebed!” Martin Unsworth agrees, “My favorite bit is the human stories like the school that came over from America chasing their rowing dream, a small high school from San Francisco, St. Ignatius, not renowned for rowing. The coach was a motorcycle policemen who had the same badge number as his Father and Grandfather, and they won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup in the first year.”

This once-homespun operation has now become an integral part of the enjoyment and celebration of rowing at Henley. It's unique–no other regatta manages to do this–and I, for one, hope that it continues to draw in the listeners and financial supporters to continue innovation around broadening the enjoyment of rowing worldwide. -RC

Rebecca Caroe is the owner of Rowperfect UK and maintains their daily rowing blog, and is a coach and masters athlete.

To listen to highlights of the 2012 regatta (including the interview with Harry Parker mentioned above), visit the Regatta Radio Podcasts page. Thanks very much to Rebecca for the insight, and Happy 4th of July!

-RR

Monday, July 2, 2012

Video of the Week: Nick Trojan and Austin Meyer Train for U23 Worlds in the LM2x



Plain and simple, these guys are good. Technique, power application, rhythm–the new-look duo of Harvard's Austin Meyer and former Carlos Dinares disciple (and RR intervieweeNick Trojan, is looking strong with racing in Trakai, Lithuania coming up next week. The video, shot on the Charles in Boston, includes some footage at race cadence in addition to steady state, and shows both possible lineups, with Trojan stroking at times, Meyer at others. The World Rowing U23 Championships are scheduled to run July 11-15, and we'll e keeping our eye on this entry–along with Andrew Campbell, these two form part of a core group of young U.S. lightweights that has the potential to change the way the world thinks about U.S. lightweight rowing and sculling by the time Rio rolls around. There's no room for big heads in lightweight racing, however, and these guys know there's a long way, and a lot of hard work, between now and 2016, with Lithuania first on the list.

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-RR