Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aussie Rowing Banter: Drew Ginn interviews James Chapman and Will Lockwood



Three new videos via Drew Ginn – The Australian men's four, shown training in the video above (yet another beautiful example of Australian rowing technique), took silver in London in one of the most highly anticipated and dramatic finals of the Olympic Regatta – a drama heightened by their performance on the World Cup circuit. If they were nervous, however, it sure didn't show. Given the interviews below, Aussie phenom Drew Ginn might just have a bright future as a sports journo, to back up one of the most impressive rowing resumes in the world. Here, we get a (humorous) inside look at just what it takes to race at the elite level, following the final at the second World Rowing Cup in Lucerne/Luzern, Switzerland.



I'm not sure whether James Chapman is a medical man, but he certainly seems to be well aware of the 'Latin' terminology for post-race fatigue. His boat mate, Will Lockwood, also throws around some decent banter, and proves that, even at the elite level, rowers can only dream that others will de-rig and load the trailer for them...



Recently, Chapman took a trip to Boston and competed in the 48th Head Of The Charles Regatta, taking 20th overall in the men's championship single.

Coming this week: RR Interviews 2012 U.S. Olympian and Princeton grad Gevvie Stone of Cambridge Boat Club, following her third-straight title at the Head Of The Charles.

Happy Halloween everyone!

-RR

Monday, October 29, 2012

Video Of The Week: Kiwis at it again, plus results from Philly and Princeton



As we start to think about winter, it's time to enjoy the last few weeks of on-the-water training – while plenty of water is currently headed toward the Eastern Seaboard, as 'Frankenstorm' Sandy arrives (stay safe over there everyone!), the indoor season is nearly upon us. So, here's another great look solid sculling from Rowing New Zealand, once again matched with a bass-heavy, dubstep mix. Plain and simple, this is a bad ass training video. Watch the bodies and legs move together, the hands flow around the turn, and the run of the boat, undisturbed by the recovery as the athletes slide forward to the catch, particularly in the stern pair. And, let it be a reminder for all those about to head indoors – appreciate your time on the water, and be ready to take lessons learned outdoors to your indoor training this winter, further ingraining the right progression into your muscle memory so that you can make a smooth transition back to the water next spring.

The Head of the Schuylkill and the Princeton Chase are in the books, with more strong results for the Virginia women coming on Lake Carnegie. The Cavaliers won a commanding victory in the varsity eight event, some 17 seconds ahead of the Tigers on Princeton's home course, and added a victory in the novice eight as well. The Princeton men, however, defended home turf against an excellent Northeastern crew, who took second place just two seconds behind the Tigers and ahead of California – the third-place finisher in Boston. Please follow the links for complete results from the 2012 Head of the Schuylkill and Princeton Chase.

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 or Google+ pages.

-RR

Thursday, October 25, 2012

48th Head Of The Charles Regatta: Recap and Review

Keeping an eye on the Charles (Photo: © B. Kitch)
The 2012 edition of the Head Of The Charles was up there with the most stacked (in terms of Olympians on the course) and most dramatic (in terms of collisions) regattas to date. As we indicated last week, the field in the women's championship eight event was perhaps deeper than ever, with no less than five boats full of Olympians – the USRowing entry, The Netherlands, Canada, the 'Great Eight' (racing as Cambridge Boat Club), and London Rowing Club (made up of GB athletes). The men's champ eight showcased a Washington crew that has Canadian standout (and 2012 Olympic silver medalist) Conlin McCabe holding down the engine room – the Huskies are, once again, looking like a dominant force in collegiate rowing for the 2012-2013 season. Let's take a look at how our picks turned out in Boston.

Women's Champ Single
As we predicted, defending champ Gevvie Stone was duking it out with a fellow Olympian for the top spot this year. However, we thought that Mirka Knapkova might be the fellow Olympian in question, suggesting that her experience my trump against Kim Crow on a tricky course. Evidently, Crow was just fine – the Aussie phenom took a very close second behind Stone, who made it three in a row in Boston. We predicted that Stone, Crow, Knapkova, Ursula Grobler, Kathleen Bertko, and Debbie Flood would be the top six, and we were nearly right – Flood finished seventh behind Lauren Schmetterling of Riverside Boat Club.

Men's Champ Single
In retrospect, I suppose it's always risky to pick an Olympic champion to win the following Charles – likely, Mahé has taken some time off and came to Boston more for fun than for glory. While we weren't surprised by Kjetil Borch, Tom Paradiso, Lassi Karonen, and Will Daly being among the leaders, we were very impressed by the results from Stephen Whelpley (second overall), Hans Struzyna (fifth), and John Graves (eighth, ahead of Drysdale). Mike Sivigny and Mike Perry finished 10th and 12th overall, respectively, though places 7-12 were separated by little more than six seconds.

Women's Champ Double
Our predicted winner, Rowing Canada's Emily Cameron and Kelly Shaffer, took third overall, behind Katie Stainken and Morgan Wimberley of Potomac Boat Club, and Rachel Stortvedt and Sherri Kline of Long Beach Rowing Association. The CRC entry with 2011 champ Jen Goldsack and Meg George took sixth.

Men's Champ Double
While we didn't get the order exactly right, we did pick the top three crews in this event. Our predicted winners – the combination of Alan Campbell and Aleksandar Aleksandrov placed third, with our other crews to watch, Olaf Tufte and Iztok Cop taking the title, the new combination of Sam Stitt and Matt Miller claiming the second spot, and Glenn Ochal and Marcel Hacker taking fourth. Congrats to 'unaffiliated (CAN)' crew Nick and Dylan Harris on a great fifth place result, as well as to Joe Spencer (2011 Pan Am champ in the U.S. men's eight) and Erich Schwirtz of Penn AC for a solid sixth place finish in a very tough field.

Women's Champ Eight
Again, we took the Canadian women's crew to claim the title, and again we missed the mark – not only did the RCA crew not win, they lost to three university crews (Virginia, Princeton and Radcliffe) en route to an eighth place finish overall. However, our prediction of a close second place for the 'Great Eight' proved true (if only because of a penalty that moved them from the top of the leaderboard), and our pick for third, USRowing, claimed top honors. As we expected, Virginia was the top collegiate crew, placing an impressive third overall ahead of both the Dutch and Canadian Olympic crews, as well as a heavily stacked London Rowing Club entry.

Men's Champ Eight
Our pick was the 'Great Eight' to win it all, but U.S. men's intercollegiate rowing showed that it is going to be another outstanding season this year, with Washington, Harvard and Cal all moving ahead of the Tideway Scullers crew, which took fourth place. The collision with the USRowing crew was certainly significant, and the fact that the Huskies were still able to post the fastest time of the day is an indication of just how much speed UW will have come spring time.

Women's Collegiate Eights
While we weren't far off, Trinity College and William Smith both edged our top picks, Williams College and Grand Valley State, into third and fourth place, respectively. While Williams has been on an incredible streak spanning the last seven seasons, the plight of Western Washington at the 2012 NCAA championships will no doubt be on the minds of the Ephs as they train for the 2013 sprint season this winter, with Trinity emerging as a potential force. The result for GVSU was solid, and we'll be expecting another strong season from the Lakers this year.

Men's Collegiate Eights
Nailed it! The UVa men's squad did not disappoint in Boston, winning both the men's collegiate four and collegiate eight events, just ahead of Michigan in both cases. Also, as we predicted, GVSU posted a top-three finish in the men's collegiate eight, showing that they'll once again be a force to be reckoned with in the deepening ACRA field this spring.

For complete results, please visit the official website of the Head Of The Charles Regatta. Also, for a FISA gallery of this year's HOCR, check out our Facebook page.

-RR

Monday, October 22, 2012

Video Of The Week: Radcliffe Takes on the Charles Challenge



This week's video comes to us fresh from the Charles 'Rivah,' posted last Friday as Radcliffe's preview for the weekend of racing in Boston. When all was said and done, the Black and White had edged the Canadian women's eight from the 2012 Olympic Games by just over one second to take seventh place overall in the women's championship eight. The 2012 Head Of The Charles was fraught with controversy this year in both the men's and women's champ eight events, which saw both 'Great Eights' fall to domestic crews. In the heavily stacked women's event, USRowing's 2012 Olympic medalist combination edged the Cambridge Boat Club women's 'Great Eight' on a penalty, while the men's champ eight event saw a collision between race leaders Washington and another USRowing crew (with three onboard from the 2012 boat) nearly result in a second-straight victory for Harvard. However, after a thorough review, the penalty that had been assessed to UW was reversed, and the Huskies were awarded the title, having posted the fastest time of the day.

For more on the weekend and the controversy surrounding several of the results at the Charles, check out today's Rowing Magazine eNewsletter, and for complete results, see the official website of the Head Of The Charles Regatta. Our own HOCR recap and review is on the way, to be posted later this week – time to take a look at how our picks and predictions played out!

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 or Google+ pages.

-RR

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Charles Chat: RR Picks and Predictions for the 2012 Head Of The Charles Regatta

Home stretch! (Photo: B. Kitch)
The 48th Head Of The Charles is set to begin Saturday in Boston, MA, and it is arguably the best-ever in terms of sheer numbers of Olympians and national team athletes racing and attending the regatta. In addition to a large contingent of U.S. Olympians, there will be athletes from the British, Dutch, Canadian, Slovenian, Norwegian, New Zealand and Australian national rowing federations on hand, among others. Given the huge number of events at the Charles, one must needs be selective in making picks – as usual, opinions to follow!

Women's Champ Single
We see this as a showdown between local favorite Gevvie Stone (last year's Charles champ), and Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova. While Kim Crow is arguably the best athlete in women's rowing right now, we're wondering if her competitors experience and familiarity with the Charles course will prove too much for Crow this go around. We're also looking for strong performances from Debbie Flood of the GB squad, Kathleen Bertko, and Ursula Grobler. Look for these athletes to round out the top six.

Men's Champ Single
In the world of men's single sculling, it's hard to bet against West End Rowing Club's Mahé Drysdale at the moment. He's the defending champion in this event, is coming off another extremely successful season that included his first Olympic gold medal, and, of course, he'll be starting in pole position. Look for Mahé to repeat this year. There are several other Olympians in the mix, including Lassi Karonen, James Chapman (of the Aussie men's four), and Kjetil Borch (of the Norwegian men's double), as well as U.S. lightweights Tom Paradiso and Will Daly. We're also looking for another solid showing at the Charles for both Mike Sivigny and Mike Perry, both of whom put together a solid race in Boston every year. With so many talented athletes in the field, it's tough to predict an order, but look for the above scullers to be in the top ten.

Women's Champ Double
The favorites in the women's champ double have to be Emily Cameron and Kelly Shaffer of Canada, who represented their country in this combination at the Olympic Games in London. Along with them, we also see Vesper (with Catherine Reddick), USTC-OKC (with Grace Luczak), and CRC (with Jen Goldsack) as strong contenders for the medals.

Men's Champ Double
While the brothers Pete and Tom Graves have won this event for three straight years, we're picking a new winner this year – look for the combination of Alan Campbell and Aleksandar Aleksandrov to take the title. We expect the combination of Olaf Tufte and Iztok Cop to be contenting for the title as well, and the new-look Potomac BC combination of Sam Stitt and Matt Miller (formerly of UVa) could prove very competitive. Also, the duo of Glenn Ochal and Marcel Hacker will be in the mix. And don't ever count the 'Brothers Graves' out – they are great racers and (obviously) know very well how to get in done in Boston.

Women's Champ Eight
Again, the Canadians have brought an extremely successful and competitive Olympic entry to Boston, and we are looking for them to get the best of their North American rivals this time on the Charles. Look for the women's 'Great Eight' to place second behind Canada, with the USRowing taking third place overall. We see Virginia as the top collegiate contender, and are looking for another strong performance from Radcliffe this year as well.

Men's Champ Eight
This will be a showdown between a very solid combo Olympic/under-23 USRowing men's eight, and the 'Great Eight' (Tideway Scullers). It's hard not to give the edge to Tideway, though they'll all have a race under their belts by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around. Also, look for the University of Washington to post another strong result, along with Harvard and Brown at the top of the intercollegiate ranks.

Women's Collegiate Eights
We're expecting a battle between Grand Valley State University and Williams, with Williams entering as the favorite. Bates has been consistently solid, and will be starting second, so look for another strong performance from them as well (these three made up the top three crews last year).

Men's Collegiate Eights
This year we're betting on the University of Virginia to take first place ahead of Williams, given the strength of the UVa program last year and the momentum they will have entering the 2012-2013 season. And, as on the women's side, we're also looking for Grand Valley State to be among the top three this year, with John Bancheri's programs both making strides last year.

So there you have it! Just do us a favor and try not to be bored this weekend, given we've already laid out the results. But seriously, as we've promised before, if we do indeed prove insightful, we'll do our best to keep from calling ourselves 'Rowstradamus' or anything like that. For now.

Good luck to all those racing in Boston! For a full list of entries, see Regatta Central, and check out the live webcast on the Charles website this weekend.

-RR

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CRC Red Bulling: Inside the XRow Experience



As we'd hoped, CRC head coach Bernhard Stomporowski has released a video with images and interviews from the California Rowing Club men's eight's experience of the 2012 Red Bull XRow, from Zug to Lucerne, Switzerland. Listening to the interviews, it certainly sounds grueling, but in many ways a great race to kick off fall training, and a complete departure from the norm.

Speaking of fall training and racing, the Head Of The Charles kicks off this weekend in Boston, and, as you might have imagined, we're ready to shoot our mouths off about who's going to win. Picks and predictions coming up tomorrow on RR!

-RR

Monday, October 15, 2012

Video Of The Week: The Australian Boat Race



This week's video comes to us from Down Under, and features a tour of the new course for the third annual Australian Boat Race – a head-to-head race between Melbourne University and Sydney University Boat Clubs, which alternates between the Yarra and Sydney Harbour – set to take place on November 4, 2012. The rivalry enjoyed by these two universities, and cities, is clear in the video included below, with highlights, interviews, and footage from inside the boats from the first-ever Aussie Boat Race from 2010.



This year, the Australian Boat Race will be broadcast for the first time to some 420 million viewers across Southeast Asia, and the crews will feature multiple Olympians and national team members.

Thanks very much to Michael of the Organising Committee for getting in touch, and we look forward to seeing how this year's race turns out! (As a former disciple of Paul Reedy, I've got to back MUBC!)

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 or Google+ pages.

-RR

Thursday, October 11, 2012

RR Turns Two: Some highlights from the first two years of RowingRelated



Two years ago today, RowingRelated began with a Statement of Purpose. Since that time, we've tried to adhere to those guiding principles and provide the most accurate coverage and informed opinion pieces we can, in an effort to create a resource for rowers and help move our sport forward – and quite a journey it has been. The above video includes clips from interviews, races, travel and other boathouse banter accumulated over that time, and we're looking forward to much, much more.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way – and a special thanks to the RR Editorial Staff and the RR International Research Department for all your hard work. Special thanks also goes to everyone at Rowing Magazine for the fantastic opportunity to work together and continue push coverage of the sport to the next level.

Whether you're submitting research, written work, or simply reading and enjoying what we're doing, you're helping us to grow, and it is greatly appreciated by everyone here at RowingRelated.

Thanks again,

Bryan

Monday, October 8, 2012

Video Of The Week: The 2012 Red Bull XRow



This week's video comes to us from Die Schweiz, and features highlights of last weekend's Red Bull XRow – an event that includes 19 kilometers of rowing and 7km of running (all while carrying the boat and oars). As we mentioned previously, a crew from California Rowing Club headed over to compete in the event – though it was their first XRow, the crew performed very well, placing sixth overall in a field of 17. This year, the home team took top honors, successfully defending their title from 2011. The Swiss crew was led by 2012 Olympians Mario Gyr and André Vonarburg, who, along with their teammates, edged two German crews (one of which, the Frankfurter RG Germania All-Stars, included Marcel Hacker) into second and third place. For more on the event, check out the official website of the Red Bull XRow.

Note for RR mobile readers: please follow the link above to view the video.

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 or Google+ pages.

-RR

Friday, October 5, 2012

Video Highlights from the Zurich City Sprints, via World Rowing



The Zurich City Sprints, which featured 450m races across all boat classes, were a success despite the weather, and another example of FISA's continuing efforts to bring rowing to a wider community. Innovative rowing races in Europe (last year's Golden Blades in St. Petersburg, the Red Bull XRow, and others) and the U.S. (the OG&E NightSprints is a good example) are helping to make the sport more accessible, and the event in Zurich was certainly no exception.

The 2012 Red Bull XRow (watch last year's event here) is coming up this weekend, and will feature a crew from California Rowing Club that includes multiple athletes with national team experience, stroked by Grand Challenge Cup winner Brandon Shald, with two-time Olympian Olivier Siegelaar in the seven seat. Also making the trip are recent Harvard alum and former team captain Michael DiSanto, and Alan Kush of Virginia's 2011 ACRA champion varsity eight. Good luck to CRC in what looks to be one of the most challenging rowing/racing events out there!

For a gallery of photos of the CRC XRow crew training in Oakland, just follow the link.

-RR

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Op-Ed: An Open Letter to USRowing – Coaching Matters

USRowing and Rowing Canada Aviron are at a turning point, with both programs in search of coaching and leadership following the Olympic Games. While RCA's issues are more to do with the polarizing effect of Mike Spracklen, USRowing has only itself to blame. In USRowing's case, there appears to be a continuing shift in favor of bureaucracy and away from what makes boats go fast. This is especially troubling considering the comparatively limited budget of USRowing in the international rowing sphere.

As most in the rowing community expected, USRowing parted ways with Tim McLaren immediately following the 2012 Olympics. Let's face it – bronze medal at the Games aside (the product of the head coach becoming the men's four coach), it was not a successful Olympic cycle. However, instead of making a new men's head coach priority Number One, USRowing hired Curtis Jordan as the new high performance director. The problem is, USRowing already had a high performance director, Matt Imes, who has not left the organization – now, Imes is listed as the 'Associate Director of High Performance' on the USRowing website. What does that mean? What it sounds like is that USRowing has created yet another bureaucratic position, likely to the tune of $100,000+, and not hired a coach. You know, that guy (or gal) who works with athletes and boats?

Sound familiar? That's because USRowing did (almost) the same thing in 2010, moving Kris Korzeniowski into a bureaucratic position and away from coaching the national team. As far as an explanation, USRowing has been typically cryptic (i.e., USRowing has simply not addressed Imes' new position in any way). How crafty! Maybe no one will notice!

That being said, USRowing is unlikely to reverse course. Despite the unaddressed financial implications of the move, the situation can still, possibly, work out for the best. It keys entirely on one thing – hiring the right candidate for the men's head coaching position – and, fortunately, that candidate is out there.

Top Pick: Tom Bohrer
Tom Bohrer is an outstanding coach, with a fantastic athletic background that includes an Olympic silver medal in the coxless four. He has a proven track record of developing talent, and has taken a stagnant Boston University program into a position of national prominence during his tenure there. He would have the immediate respect of the athletes in the USRowing community, and he understands the nature of rowing in the United States – he will not spend the next four years trying to make this into a European/Australian system, and instead will know just how to take advantage of the existing situation. The bottom line is, Bohrer would be a great hire.

Dave O'Neill
As the head coach of the California women's rowing team, O'Neill has had tremendous success, from recruiting to developing top-end speed. Just looking at the list of athletes from O'Neill's program at the 2012 Olympic Games will give you a glimpse into just how competitive the Cal Bears are, as well as an idea of the kind of culture O'Neill knows how to create. Also, O'Neill has a club background, and knows exactly how to make the most of available resources to field the most competitive team possible. And, he has international coaching experience, having worked with Julie Nichols (a Cal alum) and Kristin Hedstrom during the last Olympic cycle.

Luke McGee
As Washington men's head coach Mike Callahan knows and appreciates, Luke McGee is arguably the best assistant coach in the United States, helping Callahan and the UW Huskies to a record six straight Ten Eyck trophies, not to mention his work as coach of the victorious U.S. men's eight at the 2012 under-23 world championships earlier this year. Again, McGee knows how to build a successful culture, and, like Bohrer, has international racing experience at the elite level. While some might argue that his youth would work against him (McGee is in his mid thirties), it didn't seem to hurt Mike Teti, who led the U.S. lightweight men's four to a bronze at the 1996 Olympic Games at age 40.

The first response from much of the rowing community to this post will be, understandably, 'fat chance. You're never going to convince those guys to leave top-flight collegiate programs to take over with USRowing.'

And that's the heart of the problem. Everyone on the above list is extremely competitive, and has a track record of success already at the collegiate level – indeed, at the elite level in some cases. Why wouldn't such driven competitors jump at the chance to lead the United States national team into Rio? The answer is that USRowing has made what should be the most coveted position in the United States into something to be avoided – which explains the rumors about USRowing's hunt for a head coach going outside the U.S. once again. The problem is not that we don't have many able candidates on home turf, it's that, in the past, USRowing has proven too unstable and too untrustworthy for any of the top U.S. coaches to take interest. With the exception, of course, of Mike Teti, who left unappreciated by USRowing top brass in 2008, only to return as a 'savior' in 2011-2012.

So, the way I see it, the job of USRowing's staff of high performance directors is to change all that, as soon as possible. The position of men's head coach for the United States national team should be the best position in the country. It should be easy to fill that position, because it should be the most attractive coaching position out there – not a worldwide scramble to try to find a foreign coach too unfamiliar with the program to know he nature of its advantages and shortcomings. This is not a xenophobic sentiment – despite his polarizing effect, Mike Spracklen is familiar with the U.S. system and could prove an effective choice – rather, it is a call for decisive action in transparent terms from USRowing.

There is no dearth of great coaching in the United States. If no one comes knocking, then you are the problem, and it's time to make some changes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Video Of The Week: The Oklahoma Regatta Festival and OCU Head of the Oklahoma, 2012



This week's video comes to us from The Oklahoman's website, NewsOK, and features clips and interviews from around the course during the four-day Oklahoma Regatta Festival, which began on Thursday with the OG&E NightSprints (500m races under the lights) and finished Sunday with the distance races. During the festival, there was a rare public appearance from USRowing CEO Glenn Merry, as well as Harvard alums and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Esther Lofgren, and Caryn Davies, who attended the regatta festival to sign autographs and celebrate the sport. The festival takes full advantage of the Devon Boathouse's event space, which provides a great view of the course as well as ample facilities for the athletes – it's a very cool building, as I found out first hand last season while attending the 2011 regatta (follow the link for a Devon boathouse tour with Henley Grand Challenge Cup champion Ryan Monaghan).

[Note for mobile users: Please follow this link to view the video.]

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