Wednesday, July 31, 2013

British Banter: Pete Reed's Epic Silvretta Trailer



Following Lucerne, the GB squad is hard at work at high altitude, making their final preparations for the world championships in Silvretta. While it's more work than play, there's never a wrong time for a bit of banter, and double Olympic champion Pete Reed is kicking off the new quadrennium right with an 'epic' trailer for an upcoming feature on training in the Alps. With reviews like, "This is actually pretty good," and a soundtrack straight out of a Steven Spielberg film, let's just say this trailer has us on pins and needles for the real thing.

U23s are in the books, and, looking at the results alongside the World Rowing Cup series, there appear to be two international rowing powers on the rise in 2013: New Zealand and the United States. Both squads have shown tremendous top-end speed, as well as depth, over the summer thus far, and the future is looking bright with a view toward Rio. As the official site of Rowing New Zealand pointed out following the event in Austria, all seven Kiwi crews raced in A Finals, five of them bringing home medals from Linz. Prior to the U23 men's eight final, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond backed the Kiwi crew via Twitter:

Evidently, they were onto something...

Since then, the Kiwi pair have suggested that the U23 men's eight make the trip to Chungju—it would be very intriguing to see how the young crew might mix it up at the senior level, with three years to develop before the main event. There are just over three weeks to go before the World Rowing Championships—will the Brits remain atop the rowing world for another season? Or is there a Boston Tea Party brewing in the colonies once again?

(Okay, reaching a bit there I know, but you have to admit, it sounds a bit punchier than 'Constitution Act 1986,' and after all, it, too, took place aboard ship.)

-Bryan

Monday, July 29, 2013

Video Of The Week: Newcastle's First Eight 2013—From Henley to Linz



The World Rowing Under 23 Championships drew to a close on Sunday in Linz, Austria, and saw a number of familiar faces back on the podium once again this year, including lightweight standout Andrew Campbell, who took his first international gold medal in the BLM1x. The U.S. women's eight did not disappoint, with returners Madison Culp, Amanda Elmore, Kristine O'Brien, and coxswain Kendall Schmidt making it two golds in two years at the U23 level, and the U.S. men's eight took the long road through the rep en route to a 'sterling' performance in the A Final. Also in the men's eight A Final was Team GB, with a crew that included four of the athletes from this week's video—stroke George Rossiter (a two-time U23 bronze medalist in the BM8+ and BM4- in 2011 and 2012, respectively), Sam Arnot (silver in the JM8+ in 2009), Thomas Ford, and Timothy Clarke. The Newcastle crew raced to the semifinals at Henley Royal Regatta earlier this month, before losing in a close battle to the eventual second-place finisher Harvard frosh crew.

In Linz, the Newcastle athletes named above were joined by Cameron Buchan, who raced on the Northeastern Husky men's varsity eight this season, Cal Bear James Edwards, and friend of RR and author of The Coxswain Perspective, Rory Copus of Oxford Brookes. Though the GB crew edged the U.S. off the line, it was the American combination that had the better result in the end, placing second behind New Zealand, and roughly two seconds ahead of third place Poland—GB finished fifth behind Spain, one length ahead of Germany.

For complete results from the 2013 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, visit the official website of FISA.

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, July 26, 2013

Friday Conversation: Paralympian and Five-Time National Team Rower Andrew Johnson

Johnson on the water (Image courtesy of Andrew Johnson)
Five-time U.S. national team member and 2012 Paralympian Andrew Johnson has set the bar high in his first 23 years. Born blind, Johnson has been nothing short of a visionary when it comes to pushing himself to new and greater heights, including hiking to the top of Machu Picchu while in high school, and building on a strong early foundation in rowing to reach the Paralympics last year. Here, we catch up with Andrew on his athletic background, what motivates him, and his personal highlights to date in his young, but already well decorated, racing career.

RR: Looking over your bio, you’ve accomplished some pretty impressive things at the ripe old age of 23. How did you get into rowing, and what was it that grabbed you about it from the beginning?

AJ: I think the main draw for me, the thing that got me into rowing, was that it was a sport that I could do with all my friends. There are a lot of blind-friendly sports, but in most cases, the sport itself changes in some ways—for rowing, I realized that you are the one who has to adapt. That, and the fact that I could do it with my high school classmates, were both strong incentives for me.

I had always been interested in athletics, and I’d done a lot of hiking, rock climbing, swimming, sailing, skiing, etc.—I’d done all that but I couldn’t do those sports competitively, so there was this element missing from my life when I started high school: the competitive aspect was really big for me.

As soon as I began rowing, I fell in love with it. The motion, the mindset that you need to have as a rower—both appealed very strongly to me.

RR: You mentioned hiking and climbing—you got to meet your childhood hero, and hike with him up Machu Picchu. That sounds amazing! How did that happen? Can you describe that experience a little?

AJ: Ha! Yes, that was pretty badass, I have to say [laughs]. I got the opportunity during my freshman year of high school to go to a conference called No Barriers, which is an event where they encourage people of all ability levels and with all sorts of different disabilities to come out and experience the outdoors. You meet people like a guy who was pinned under a boulder for three days, had to get his legs amputated, and five months later is hiking again with artificial limbs. It was there that I met Erik Weihenmayer, who is the first and only blind man to climb Mount Everest, and he told me that he was organizing a trip for the following summer with kids from all over the U.S., heading to Peru and hiking Machu Picchu. I immediately wanted to be a part of it.

I came to my parents with the idea, and they said I could do it as long as I could raise the money. I did a bunch of fundraising, and received a great deal of support that way—in the end, I got to go. It was a six-day hike, about 50 miles, and we got up to around 15,000 feet at the highest point. It was just after my sophomore year of high school, and also right after the first USRowing national team selection camp that I ever attended—it was a really cool summer for me, very transformative. It was the first time that I truly realized how far beyond myself I could go, and I would say that that summer, through national team camp and getting to hike the Andes, that’s when I first got the hunger to see how far I could push myself.

I felt like I wanted more, and thought about how I could structure my life in such a way I could do this all the time.

RR: Now, having been a Paralympian and a national team member five times, what are some of your personal highlights from your rowing career? Do the Paralympics stand out for you as the pinnacle, or is there another race where you felt that you had really begun to come into your own on the international stage?

AJ: London was great. Really, that was where I felt I came into my own as a rower. Every year I’m always looking to find new ways to better the previous one—so far each competition has been more fun and rewarding than the last. Another big highlight was actually the semifinal race in 2011 [at the world championships in Bled, Slovenia], when we qualified for the Paralympics. It had been a bit of a question mark—we had hoped to do it, but getting it out of the way was huge, and we were all very happy with how we rowed that race. But London was fantastic, just being able to be there and race at the top of my game along with my teammates, against all those other countries and athletes who had also been working tremendously hard.

RR: Now you’re gearing up for the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju. Are you excited to be kicking off a new quadrennium?

AJ: Absolutely. It’s so interesting, knowing what I know now, to be starting a new cycle. We just started camp a few days ago, and that camp will last until departure. It’s really exciting seeing how focused everybody is—even though it’s the first year back, we’re all really locked in and trying to step up our game. We know that our competition is out there working really hard, so we are going to match that for sure.

RR: Lastly—you’re a pretty funny guy, and everyone should follow you on Twitter. You’ve got jokes, which is something that is very much appreciated in the world of high-level rowing social media.

AJ: Thanks! Anything I can do for the cause, you know!

Follow Andrew (for the jokes, and more) on Twitter: @akjrow. Thanks very much to Andrew for taking the time, and all best for another great season on the water!

-RR

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Edition Video Of The Week: The French Women's Quad Train for U23s



The World Rowing Under-23 Championships are just hours away, and the athletes and coaches from rowing federations the world over are gathered in Linz, Austria for five days of hard fought racing. The U.S. roster was released last week, and includes a number of college standouts and future prospects, among them Harvard's lightweight phenom Andrew Campbell (racing in the LM1x), and Stanford-bound Ruth Narode (who earned a silver in the U.S. junior women's four in Plovdiv, Bulgaria last year, and won the U23 Hammer at Crash-Bs earlier this year), joined by four athletes who won gold in the BW8+ last year in Trakai (Washington's Madison Culp, Amanda Elmore of Purdue, Virginia's Kristine O'Brien, and Wisco's Kendall Schmidt). The racing gets started on Wednesday, 24 July. For complete results, the FISA live race tracker, and more, visit the official site of World Rowing.

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

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Making a Statement: Team USA's Lofty Performance in Lucerne

Lucerne skies (Photo: B. Kitch)
Following the 2012 Olympic Games, there were significant changes to the structure and the personnel at USRowing, with the departure of Tim McLaren, and the subsequent hiring of Curtis Jordan and Luke McGee adding new blood to the system at the outset of a new quadrennium. At the time, we questioned the addition of a second high performance director, but lauded the hiring of McGee, given his track record of success at the college level and personal understanding of what it takes to be a national team oarsman. Also, while Bryan Volpenhein had taken his lightweight four through the qualifiers and to the Olympic Regatta, making the transition to one of the marquee events on the heavyweight side would be no easy task. Fortunately for those of us stateside, however, the two-time Olympic medalist showed, in no uncertain terms, that he was ready to take it on.

The lead-up to London was often fraught with controversy for the U.S. men's squad, as the dearth of international medals through multiple seasons led many (including us) to question the leadership and coaching decisions. Now, with London in the rearview mirror and Rio just over the horizon, the team's first major international competition couldn't have contrasted more greatly with the previous regime. Despite taking on the role with the national team just over eight months before Lucerne, McGee's eight—a mixture of 2012 Olympians and younger athletes, including Stanford's Austin Hack—showed fantastic early-season speed, knocking off the Germans in a slugfest all the way to the line. The victory marked the first time that anyone has defeated Germany's top-tier men's eight since the Beijing Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, in the men's four, a crew with one returning athlete from the bronze medal-winning lineup in London (Henrik Rummel), also had an outstanding regatta. Though, as Greg Searle commented at the time, perhaps not the smoothest of rows, there was no shortage of power being applied by the American crew, stroked by 2011 under-23 world champion Mike Gennaro. Again, the crew was a mixture—Seth Weil, sitting in the two seat, made his first-ever international race a memorable one on the Rotsee. In fact, as USRowing noted following Lucerne, no less than nine of the 31 U.S. athletes who earned a trip to the podium were appearing in their first senior-level international competition.

Of course, this is a World Cup, and we haven't yet seen the real speed of the rest of the field, with everyone building toward Chungju. This fact, however, wasn't lost on the U.S. team. Henrik Rummel summed it up succinctly:

"It's a World Cup win in a post-Olympic year. We have three years till Rio, and that's the important one."

On the women's side, the U.S. has long been a force to be reckoned with, and that certainly doesn't look like it's about to change any time soon—top to bottom, heavyweight and lightweight, Team USA was nothing short of dominant. The result for the eight was, obviously, outstanding, but perhaps the most impressive result of the regatta came from Elle Logan in the women's single, where she defeated the defending Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova en route to a silver medal (Logan's fourth medal of the 2013 World Cup season). Also of note was the solid, bronze medal result for the new-look U.S. women's double of Meghan O'Leary and Ellen Tomek—this could be a real crew to watch heading into the world championships in South Korea, and beyond.

Is there a new-old rowing superpower on the rise?

-RR

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Edition Video(s) Of The Week: Martin Cross Interviews from Lucerne

This week's videos come to us from the Rotsee thanks to the hard work of two-time GB Olympic medalist Martin Cross, who was in the middle of the action as crews came off the water in Lucerne. The first of these interviews is with 2012 bronze medalist Henrik Rummel, following the win for the U.S. men's four—a lineup that also included Syracuse alum Mike Gennaro, former UC Davis Aggie Seth Weil, and 2012 Olympian in the men's eight, Grant James. While the crew enjoyed the win, clearly, they're keeping it all in perspective.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Solid Early Showing from U.S. Crews in Lucerne



The United States has made quite an impression on the international stage in the early going at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, winning heats in the men's eight, men's four, and women's lightweight double—all in the fastest qualifying times—and with further solid performances from John Graves in the men's single (earning his way into the A/B Semifinals through the reps), the men's quad, and the men's lightweight four (which also earned a trip to the A/B Semi, winning the second of two reps). The men's eight made a statement with a wire-to-wire victory over the heretofore undefeated GB men's crew chock full of 2012 Olympic medalists, sending them to the reps—the American crew isn't short of 2012 Olympians, either, with Ross James, Steve Kasprzyk, Glenn Ochal, Tom Peszek, and coxswain Zach Vlahos on board. The women's double event saw two U.S. crews progress directly to the A Final, with 2012 bronze medalists Megan Kalmoe and Andrienne Martelli in one combination, and Meghan O'Leary and Ellen Tomek in the other. The women's quad were very close to the Polish crew that took the sole qualifying spot for the final in the second of two heats—the U.S. crew, which features 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Kara Kohler, 2012 gold medalists from the women's eight, Esther Lofgren and Susan Francia, as well as 2011 world silver medalist Stesha Carle, will race the rep Saturday for a shot at the finals. The Polish crew won the heat in a time of 6:16, with the U.S. crossing in 6:18 (a time that would have won the other heat by five seconds).

In the words of Ross James...

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Keep up to date with all the action on the Rotsee, and read the full write-up from the heats, via the official website and Twitter feed of World Rowing.

[*Updated Saturday 13 July at 9:49am PDT]

-RR

Monday, July 8, 2013

Video Of The Week: Henley Royal Regatta 2013—The Final Day



The final day of this year's Henley Royal Regatta featured some outstanding match-ups, as well as blistering times, as some of the best crews in the world laid it all on the line for those coveted little red boxes. And, as is the case every year at Henley-on-Thames, there were a number of extremely close contests—tremendous battles that saw crews hang on to narrow margins, or walk through early leaders to edge opponents at the line. Let's take a look, shall we?

As we expected, the final of the women's single pitted defending Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova against standout Kiwi sculler Emma Twigg. This time, Knapkova, who finished fourth just back of Twigg at the Holland Beker Regatta the previous weekend, walked away to victory—the Czech sculler equaled the course record for the event, despite winning by the verdict, 'Easily.' Quite an impressive result for Knapkova, and one that will no doubt get the attention of Holland Beker champion Kim Crow of Australia as Lucerne looms.

The Diamond Challenge Sculls saw hometown favorite Alan Campbell take on young phenom Aleksandar Aleksandrov—this time, it was the Azerbaijani's turn in the limelight, as Aleksandrov led throughout to record the victory by two lengths.

The final of the Visitors saw two Harvard crews line up against one another—one being made up of athletes from Harry Parker's last Crimson varsity eight, and the other made up of athletes from Charley Butt's undefeated lightweight varsity eight. As it turned out, it was the heavyweights' time to shine, winning what was no doubt an emotional victory, and setting a new course record along the way (crossing in 6:33).

In the final of the Temple Challenge Cup saw a European crew outpace the Harvard frosh to take the event—the win for DSR Laga, Holland marked the fist time that a non-North American crew has won the event since Oxford Brookes edged the Cornell lightweights by half a length in 2006.

The race of the day was the Ladies' Challenge Plate final, which saw a gallant effort from the Northeastern Huskies fall just short of knocking off a GB national team crew, fresh from racing at the Eton World Cup. The Huskies, who finished a tantalizingly close fourth at the 2013 IRA Regatta in June, built a substantial early lead, but were ultimately unable to hold off a perfectly timed charge from the GB crew—when the dust had settled, the verdict saw Leander Club and Molesey Boat Club (GB2) edging Northeastern by a canvas, setting a new course record of 5:58 to record the victory.

Similarly, in the Grand Challenge Cup, the Washington Huskies took on the top GB crew so far in 2013, stroked by back-to-back Olympic gold medalist Andrew Triggs Hodge, and featuring the top talent in the GB squad. This race, however, was less a back-and-forth affair—while Washington battled very well, GB controlled the race from the early stages, and finished in another course record—5:54—while holding off the Huskies by one length. Despite the losses, both the Ladies' and the Grand made quite an impression on an international audience, with respect to just how high the standard of U.S. intercollegiate rowing his risen.

Last, but certainly not least, is Abingdon School's tremendous accomplishment—the victory in the Princess Elizabeth marked their third in as many years, while their alumni crew, rowing as Griffen B.C., took the Thames Challenge Cup as well. Lots of candy-striped blazers on the podium this year!

Oh yeah, and some guys named Bond and Murray won. Again.

For complete results, please visit the official website of Henley Royal Regatta. Thanks to Henley and to Regatta Radio for another tremendous year of coverage! Good racing all crews!

-RR

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Flat Water Tuesday Photo Contest: Our Favorites



The above gallery includes our favorites from the RR Flat Water Tuesday Photo Contest—a beautiful collection of images! A huge thanks to St. Martin's Press, and all those who participated! Winners: we'll be in touch shortly via email to sort out the logistics. If you'd like to read more about Flat Water Tuesday, here's what people are saying on Goodreads. (Mobile users: Click here to view the photo set on Flickr.)

And, what better time to celebrate the beauty of rowing than following what is arguably the most prestigious rowing race in the world, Henley Royal Regatta—itself certainly not short on stunning scenery (on and off the water)! This year's Henley included some of the most remarkable match-ups, and edge-of-your-seat races, of the 2013 season, not least of which were the two finals that pitted U.S. collegiate varsity crews against GB squad entries. Much more on that to come very shortly.

-RR

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dawgs Take down Polish National Crew En Route to Grand Challenge Final



The Washington Huskies stepped up to the plate in a major way at this year's Henley Royal Regatta, picking up where Brown left off last year in the Grand Challenge Cup. (The above video provides a little background on the Husky boat at Henley.) While this year's field may be smaller than the last time round, the Huskies faced no small task on Saturday—between Washington and the final stood the Polish men's eight that had raced the Olympics in London (the same athletes, albeit in a slightly different arrangement), and which just took silver at the second World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney. Despite the considerable pedigree of the Poles, Washington led from start to finish, edging out to an open water lead in the later stages of the race, and perhaps giving the GB crew (Leander Club & Molesey B.C.) something to think about for tomorrow's Grand Challenge Final.



Also, we'd be remiss not to mention that the Northeastern men will be facing another GB crew in the final of the Ladies' Plate—this particular GB eight raced at Eton Dorney as GB2, and placed fourth. Based on the racing so far, it seems that Hear The Boat Sing's Tim Koch was right on the money when he titled his Henley preview, "Huskies v. Bulldogs."

Thanks to Rick for sending along the video! And we're looking forward to a great day of racing tomorrow on the Thames!

-RR

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Updates from Henley: Virginia, Harvard, Molesey Impress on Second Day of Racing



Henley Royal Regatta is in full swing, with two days of great racing already in the books, and the field already greatly reduced, or at least transformed from lycra-clad rowers to bespoke blazer-donning spectators in the regatta enclosures. As with any Henley, there have been a number of surprises in the early going, not least of which has been the University of Virginia's progress through the first two rounds, recording 'Easily' verdicts in both cases on the way to their matchup with the Harvard frosh tomorrow—it should be an interesting race to watch! Molesey Boat Club has also been a force thus far in the regatta, with crews in the Visitors, Thames, and Brit Cup all moving on to Friday.

Follow along with all the action live via Regatta Radio and the official website of Henley Royal Regatta (live results feed or Twitter stream). Also, check out a huge collection of HRR images, thanks to Rowing Photography UK's Iain Weir.

In the midst of all this Henley madness, we'll announce the winners of our Flat Water Tuesday Photo Contest tomorrow Sunday—thanks very much to all who entered [and apologies for the delay]!

-RR

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Henley Royal Regatta, 2013: RR Picks and Predictions

The Stewards' (Photo: B. Kitch)
You've been waiting patiently, and now, they're finally here: our picks and predictions for the 2013 Henley Royal Regatta! The draw is out, and the racing begins tomorrow—here are our thoughts on the top crews to look out for this week on the Thames.

Open Events

In contrast to the commonly held order of events, we are going to start with the single sculls competitions that look likely to provide some of the highlights of this year’s events.  The adage that ‘styles make fights’ looks appropriate here, as we are lucky to have the fast starting Bozhilov, the smoothness of Julian Bahain from the French M2x, the legendary figure of Luka Spik, the high rating Joe Sullivan from the Olympic Champion NZ M2x—and that is before even mentioning two of the three Olympic medallists from London in the form of Mahe Drysdale and Alan Campbell!  The racing in this event from Friday onwards should not be missed…  The prospective final between Mirka Knapkova and Emma Twigg in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup should also be a terrific tussle.

Having been unbeaten for two years, the Washington varsity will finally have a chance to explore their limits against international opposition fresh from the recent Dorney World Cup. Not since the Harvard crew of 2004 has a US varsity crew had this opportunity at Henley, and with 2012 Olympic silver medalist Conlin McCabe on board their chances shouldn't be dismissed, especially given their experience of match racing and their dominant performance against national eights at last year's Head Of The Charles. The draw has given the GB eight a bye straight to the final, so the only way to triumph will be to tough it out against the international crews on consecutive days over the grueling 2,112m course.

Look for another GB v NZ showdown in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, where Lucas & Langridge of London and Leander respectively will be hoping to overturn the victory of Arms & Manson. Richard "Dwain" Chambers and younger brother Peter, half of the silver medalist LM4- from London 2012 and the current GB LM2x will look to disrupt that however, and an enthralling match up with their heavyweight British counterparts beckons on Saturday—we don’t think we're alone in wishing for fast conditions to keep that one interesting!

The collective sighs and shrugs of the shoulders from the other entrants in the Goblets tells you that the stand out crew of World Rowing, Bond & Murray will be gracing the event with their presence. Look for the river banks to fill up with spectators anxious to see the pair's latest masterpiece as they romp to victory.

An intriguing trio of crews, the GB and NZ crews from the recent World Cup alongside South Africa's Olympic champion LM4- will compete the Stewards’ Challenge Cup, the foremost event for coxless fours. Form from Dorney suggests that GB have the ascendancy over the Kiwi crew who had defeated them at March’s World Cup in Sydney, but the match racing format seen here can quickly transform a form guide!

A further Kiwi victory is possible in the straight final of the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for quad sculls, however we expect the GB crew who made the A final at Dorney to have too much for their rivals in black for once.

Reflecting the lack of an event at the recent World Cup, there is no senior international opposition to the GB women’s squad boats in either of the Remenham Challenge Cup for eights or the Princess Grace for quadruple sculls.  Although the overall standard will be down as a result, the opportunity for a weekend race at Henley should see fierce competition between the domestic club entries on Friday.

Intermediate Events

With the varsity eight taking on the Grand, the Husky JV are stepping up to the challenge of the Ladies Plate. We feel they may come out on the wrong side in the semi-final against the composite GB crew entered as Leander & Molesey who recently competed credibly in the Dorney World Cup as GB2 and have therefore been working with the rest of the squad at the GB Training Centre for a number of weeks. Northeastern, who impressed all with their 4th placed finish at IRAs have received a favourable draw and should make the final.

The top Harvard crew in the Visitors Challenge Cup for coxless fours look well suited to provide an emotional tribute to Harry Parker, a result that the hundreds of athletes who have been coached by Harry over the past years will all be longing for.  Experienced crews from Cambridge University and Molesey stand in the way of what could be an iconic all-Crimson affair on Sunday.

A disappointing entry of only 14 crews for the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup suggests the emphasis and strength in depth of sculling in the UK at Club level is still somewhat behind sweep oar—Leander Club’s collection of Great Britain’s best up and coming scullers are hard to ignore in this event and are looking for their fourth consecutive victory.

Club Events

The Thames Challenge Cup for eights is the premier club event and looks set to be one of this year’s fascinating events, with little to choose between many of the top domestic crews.  The most important element for ultimate success at this level over recent years has been the preparation in the final few weeks—early season speed has deserted certain crews, whilst others seemingly well off the pace have come from nowhere to surprise their rivals. Upper Thames will believe it can be their year, whilst Griffen Boat Club, the alumni of Abingdon School, many of whom have recently returned from US Universities will feel these past couple of weeks may have made the difference.  Looking at the form from recent years and the ability to form winning crews that peak at just the right moment, Molesey Boat Club are hard to ignore.

London Rowing Club look the stand out pick from this year's entries in the Wyfold, but as with every year, potential adversaries, many of whom with little record of racing this summer lurk among the list.  The first of these to highlight is the NSR Oslo crew,  which may be the same crew that in the Steward's Challenge Cup last year and went on to narrowly miss out on the A final at the World U23 Championships. Their entry at club level is likely to draw further attention given that they competed at the recent World Cup Regatta as Norway 2, though it remains uncertain—watch this space! Another entry to look out for is that of Elizabethan Boat Club—known as the Alumni club of Westminster School, they look a strong entry on paper, but were still asked to qualify as no results this season were able to be submitted alongside their entry.  Having passed this test last Friday however, the Stewards obviously saw enough to deem the crew worthy of selection! A word of caution would be the fact that the only similar alumni crews to have achieved success in recent years such as 1829, have all had full regatta seasons together behind them.

The top domestic entry in the Britannia Challenge Cup look to be Molesey, a crew who have improved vastly over the past 12 months.  However they will certainly be pushed by Taurus and Thames, clubs who have lost finals of various recent club events.  The entry from Bayer Leverkusen, Germany will also be one to keep an eye on.

Student Events

The rule changes allowing U23 medallists to compete in the Temple Challenge Cup for eights has certainly improved the calibre of the British crews this year. No longer unable to field their best athletes in 8s for the regatta season, less experienced members of teams have been able to race and learn from their more esteemed crew mates, assisting their development and seeing both Newcastle University and Oxford Brookes stopping the clock over 2km a good ten seconds quicker than crews of the past 7 years. The disappointing aspect though is the question that has this rule change come too late, given the slightly disappointing level of US entries? Has the prestige of the Temple been diminished by the victory margins of recent years?  The entry has certainly diversified, featuring crews from Germany and Russia, many of whom little is known about, so we are eagerly awaiting the weekend with St Petersburg and Nereus potential contenders.

The creation of effectively two tiers within the student events has certainly weakened the entry for this year's Prince Albert Challenge Cup for coxed fours. The standard for this event had previously been considerably quicker than the comparative Britannia Challenge Cup for club crews, but results so far this season suggest this is no longer the case. The crews from Durham University and Isis Boat Club (Oxford) look the form picks in this one.

Junior Events

No need to look beyond the first name on the list for a favourite in this event, with Abingdon the National Schools Champions and the choice of many for the top prize in schoolboy rowing. Another excellent crew from Scotch College Melbourne are over again to challenge, whilst Boston College High School have continued to improve over recent years and will look to better their previous performances in this event.  The rare entry of a German school, from Poelchau Oberschule will be intriguing, given the tradition for regional club squads at junior level.

After the usual bun fight that is qualifying for the Fawley Challenge Cup the form guide from the top domestic junior regattas suggest that Marlow Rowing Club, national school's champions. Marlow are favourites, but Tigre have been over here for a few weeks and pushed them very close at Marlow, possibly only a few days after stepping off a plane so may be even closer now!

The newest event of the regatta, the Junior Women’s Quadruple sculls, is set for a repeat of the Henley Women’s Regatta final between the provincial Gloucester Rowing Club, and Great Britain’s foremost female rowing school, Headington.  The romantic armchair fan in us is looking to Gloucester to repeat their victory!


And there you have it! Now, the pressure is on you to try to act surprised this week, while sipping a Pimm's and reading through the Programme.

-The RR International Research Department

[UPDATE 4 July, 2013]:

"Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus" ;)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Video Of The Week: Holland Beker 2013



This week's video comes to us from the Bosbaan, where the 2013 Holland Beker saw truly elite, international competition over the weekend. Perhaps the most outstanding racing came in the women's single, where the A Final closely mirrored a world championship or Olympic final in recent years—the lineup included two-time Olympic champ Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, Kim Crow of Australia, New Zealand's Emma Twigg, reigning Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic, another two-time Olympic champion (albeit in the women's eight) in Eleanor Logan, and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist (also in the eight) Chantal Achterberg of Holland. As it turned out, the final was a wire-to-wire victory for Kim Crow, who looks to be on top form and may be the athlete to beat in this event for the foreseeable future, holding off both Karsten and Twigg in the closing stretch, with Knapkova finishing fourth. Elle Logan had another solid race in a great field, finishing just over four seconds back of the Olympic champ.

On the men's side, Mahe Drysdale led through much of the middle 1000m, but couldn't hold off Roel Braas of The Netherlands, whose composed and steady rhythm saw him through to the victory, with Hannes Obreno of Belgium (fourth at U23 worlds in the BM1x last year) sprinting into second place. The victory for Braas marked the first time that a Dutch sculler has won the event since 1995—at least, we're pretty sure that's what "eerste Nederlander sinds '95" means. As Mahe tweeted after the race, he's still getting back into shape following some time off before what was, in rowing terms, probably the closest thing we've got to "The Decision" last fall, when he announced that he would continue to train for Rio.

It'll be interesting to see if Mahe can find a few of those seconds at Henley this week, in a fantastic field that includes Luka Špik of Slovenia, home crowd favorite Alan Campbell, and Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan. If Campbell and Drysdale meet in the final, it would be a repeat of the 2007 regatta (that time, Campbell got the better of Drysdale after an epic battle down the course).

And, speaking of Henley Royal Regatta, our International Research Department has been hard at work, slaving away while most Henley goers concerned themselves only with picking out the right baguette carrier. But, their sacrifice has born fruit, much to the benefit of rowing banter along the towpath. Stay tuned for our HRR Picks and Predictions post, coming up very soon.

Also, we'll announce the winners of our Flat Water Tuesday Photo Contest, and publish a gallery with our top picks/pics! Busy week ahead!

-RR