Monday, September 30, 2013

Video Of The Week: A Rowing Phalanx?



The folks at WSV Ottensheim have done it again. After their first video, "Rowing is Passion" (which was featured in our RR Recruiting Video Contest in January of this year), reached over 100,000 views on YouTube, filmmaker Erwin Trummer and WSV Ottensheim decided to add a second episode—the aptly named, "Rowing is Passion 2"—picking up on the intensity of the first, but incorporating a few new twists. Our favorite of those twists has got to be the 'rowing phalanx' and subsequent charge (see above) that launches the viewer into some race footage with a pulse-pounding soundtrack. Nothing like a little rage to get the fall racing season started right. Well done once again to WSV Ottensheim, and thanks very much to Clemens for sending along 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 or get in touch via our Facebook or Google+ pages.

-RR

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rowing 2013-2014: A New Season Begins

It has been a quiet week here at RowingRelated as we gear up to take on our fourth season of rowing coverage, analysis, and banter—but not so around the junior, collegiate, and elite rowing ranks. The new season has begun already for many programs, and, thanks to the wonders of social media, we're right alongside the coaches and athletes on the water for autumn training sessions, and on land for early-season erg tests. Here are a few of our favorite shots from the early going at the intercollegiate level:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 2013 RoRys, Part Three: The Elite Level

Yes, 2013 is a post-Olympic year, and naturally, one might expect there to be a slight dip in performance at the international level at the outset of a new Olympic cycle. But not so this season. The elite level of rowing enjoyed one of its most successful world championships to date, with the largest number of federations ever involved (73, up from 68 at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia) kicking off the quadrennium in style, and a mixture of new and familiar faces on the podium. And so, the 2013 RoRys for the elite level go to...

RoRy for Program of the Year
USRowing, Curtis Jordan
Even though it'll likely make Pete Cipollone spit out his coffee when he hears us say it (just kidding, Pete), and much as we have been critical of USRowing in the past, we must admit that this season proved to be eye-opening not only for the folks at home, but also for the rowing world at large. Despite losing the men's head coach shortly after the Olympics, new high performance director Curtis Jordan and USRowing have put together what appears to be a winning formula—and it's already paying dividends. While Tom Terhaar and the U.S. women have been dominant throughout, setting yet another new world best time in the eight this season with only one returning athlete in that crew is an accomplishment that shouldn't be overlooked. On the men's side, newly appointed coach Luke McGee has stepped in and immediately shown that he is ready to compete at the highest level of our sport, leading a men's eight to victory over a heretofore undefeated, 2012 Olympic champion German crew (with five athletes back from London) in Lucerne, and a bronze in Chungju. A reinvented U.S. men's four guided by Bryan Volpenhein also won Lucerne and claimed bronze at worlds, and the lightweights on both the men's and women's sides had great results as well, with two silvers in the LW2x and LW4x, and the LM4- making the final for the first time since 2000 (and finishing fifth, ahead of Olympic champion South Africa).

Honorable Mention: Federazione Italiana Canottaggio, Giuseppe Abbagnale
Like Curtis Jordan with the USRowing program, new Italian rowing federation president Giuseppe Abbagnale has had an immediate, positive impact at the highest level. Italy topped the medal table in Chungju, winning a total of eight medals (three of them gold), and placed a tremendous number of crews in the finals (they narrowly missed further hardware in the men's lightweight double and men's four, placing fourth in both events).

RoRy for Efficiency
Norway, Norges Roforbund
While Norway did not have a large contingent in Chungju this year, they certainly had a memorable regatta. The Norwegians entered just five crews, but claimed no less than three medals, two of them gold (for an overall ranking of fifth). Standouts Kjetil Borch and Nils Jakob Hoff ran away with the men's double (and posed for what has become the signature victory photo from the regatta—clearly, these guys know how to have fun), while teammates Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli sprinted through Italy and onto the top of the podium of the LM2x, having taken second at the European championships earlier this summer. Also earning a trip to the podium was Birgit Skarstein, who took silver in the ASW1x behind Russia's Natalia Bolshakova—both Skarstein and Bolshakova broke the previous world best time.

RoRy for Coach of the Year
Robin Williams MBE, Great Britain
Having coached the GB women's pair of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover to the first-ever Olympic gold medal for British women's rowing at Eton Dorney last year, Robin Williams was faced with no small task—with Heather Stanning returning to military service following the Olympics, Williams and Team GB selected Polly Swann to step into the pair with Helen Glover to see if they could keep the momentum going on the Road to Rio. Not only did they continue to have success, the new-look duo enjoyed an undefeated season, culminated in a world title in Chungju. To swap out 50 percent of a lineup in an eight and still win is an achievement—to do it in a pair? Hats off, Sir Robin.

RoRy for Race of the Year
A Final of the Women's Double Sculls, World Rowing Championships
If you haven't seen this race yet, watch it. The A Final of the women's double in Chungju pitted a new, and very promising combination from Lithuania featuring Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite against Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson of New Zealand and Francis Houghton and Victoria Meyer-Laker of GB (both of them in the 6:30s on the erg) in an all-out battle to the line. Also racing the final was five-time Olympian Ekaterina Karsten with new partner Yulia Bichyk. The Lithuanians took an early lead, but faced a significant challenge from the Kiwis in the second 1000m. With 300m to go, the Kiwis surged into first place, and it looked like there would be nothing that Vistartaite and Valciukaite could do to reel them back in before the line. However, in the final ten strokes of the regatta, the Lithuanians found that extra gear that they needed. Five strokes to go and there was nothing in it. As the two crews crossed the line, none of the athletes knew who had won. The result? Gold to Lithuania by 0.04 of a second.

RoRy for Breakthrough Performance of the Year
Seth Weil, USRowing
UC Davis alum Seth Weil's rise over the course of the 2013 season was nothing short of meteoric. How so, you ask? This was Weil's first-ever year on the national team, and at his first-ever international regatta—World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne—he and the U.S. men's four took down pre-race favorite Australia and won the first gold medal for the United States in that event since their coach, Bryan Volpenhein, and co. did it in 2004. Having worked with Carlos Dinares in the single, Weil showed that he had no trouble jumping back into sweep rowing, earning his way into camp and moving consistently up the ranks until he found himself in the priority boat for the U.S., which capped off a great season with a bronze medal at the world championships in Chungju. (Look for an interview with Seth coming up soon right here on RR.)

Honorable Mention: Koninklijke Nederlandse Roeibond
The Dutch rowing federation had an outstanding year across a large number of events, moving up the standings to sixth overall and making the A Finals of the men's single, men's pair (bronze), men's four (gold), men's eight, women's single, women's pair, women's quad, women's eight, lightweight women's double, and lightweight women's quad (gold), as well as the TAMix2x.

RoRys for Athletes of the Year
Hamish Bond/Eric Murray, Rowing New Zealand
Okay, so we know it's a bit of a cop-out to pick two athletes for Male Athlete of the Year, but these guys are pretty much inseparable, and they're doing things that no one has ever done before in a rowing shell. Having decided that an undefeated quadrennium resulting in an Olympic gold medal wasn't enough for them, this duo returned to training shortly after London, and has since set a new record for most consecutive international wins—16.

Elisabetta Sancassani/Laura Milani, Federazione Italiana Canottaggio
Again, we're picking a crew of two here, but hear us out. While both of these athletes have a great deal of experience at the international level, dating back to their first appearances at junior worlds in the early 2000s, Elisabetta Sancassani and Laura Milani appear to have discovered lightning in a bottle from the moment they teamed up prior to the European Rowing Championships last year—the duo have been undefeated since, and in 2013 accomplished something that no Italian women's crew had done before: win a world championship title.

And with that, the 2013 RoRys come to a close. Congratulations to all the winners for your truly outstanding accomplishments over the course of the 2012-2013 season! Now, having reflected on the best of the best from the last year in rowing, it's time to move on—we can only imagine what phenomenal performances we'll be celebrating at this time next September.

Let the games begin!

-RR

Friday, September 20, 2013

The 2013 RoRys, Part Two: Celebrating the Intercollegiate Level

We're on to the next level of the 2013 RoRys, and there's a great deal to celebrate from the world of intercollegiate rowing this season. It was a season characterized by dynasties further adding to their incredible legacies, as well as of newcomers making a name for themselves at the highest level. And so, after much deliberation, and without further ado, the winners of the 2013 RoRys at the intercollegiate level are...

RoRys for Programs of the year
University of Washington Men
Despite losing one of the best coaches in the collegiate ranks—newly appointed USRowing men's coach Luke McGee—in the middle of the season, the Huskies of Washington showed that they were by no means ready to loosen their vise-grip on the Ten Eyck Trophy. Head coach Mike Callahan and assistant coach Rick Gherst not only stayed the course and pushed their athletes to achieve at the highest level, but also they did it while training new Husky coaches, who stepped up in the absence of McGee. Having begun their season with a victory at the Head Of The Charles, the Huskies then defeated Cambridge on the Thames in a Boat Race tune-up, before sweeping the IRA regatta for a second straight year.

The Ohio State University Women
Andy Teitelbaum has often seen his Buckeyes finish the season in the top 10 (in fact, Ohio State has finished in the top 10 in team points in 13 of the past 14 seasons), but this year his Ohio State squad would not be denied. Teitelbaum's crews medaled in all three events, with the Buckeye varsity eight taking bronze, while the second varsity and varsity four both won decisive victories in their respective grand finals. The Buckeyes also won their fourth Big Ten title, where Teitelbaum was named Big Ten coach of the year, and both Teitelbaum and assistant coach Diana Albrecht were named CRCA coach and assistant coach of the year for Division I.

RoRys for Coaches of the Year
Andy Teitelbaum, The Ohio State University 
Not to be repetitive, but that was one heck of a season for Teitelbaum and the Buckeyes. In addition to the above, it should also be noted that the second varsity had an undefeated season, and that the Buckeyes swept the NCAA events at their conference championships by open water.

Harry Parker, Harvard University
He was one of the most celebrated head coaches in our sport for a reason, and this season was yet another example of what made him so special. Despite battling cancer, Parker guided yet another Crimson varsity eight to an Eastern Sprints title, following another undefeated regular season, and finished the year with a silver medal at the IRA Regatta, and a sweep of Yale at Red Top—Parker's 44th victory over the Bulldogs in 51 tries. He was, quite simply, a legend in his own time.

RoRy for Club Coach of the Year
Gregg Hartsuff, University of Michigan 
The Michigan Wolverines had a season for the ages. Head coach Gregg Hartsuff has been at the top of collegiate club rowing for many years, despite rising challenges from a number of growing programs. After suffering a minor setback in the grand final of the men's varsity eight at Dad Vails, the Wolverines then drove up to Worcester, where they dominated ECACs, sweeping the men's eight events. They then carried that momentum into ACRAs, where they reclaimed the title in the men's varsity eight over rival Virginia, and added a second gold in the men's second varsity eight as well.

RoRy for Race of the Year
Northeastern v. Brown for the Dreissigacker Cup
While the 'other' Huskies have been on our radar for some time now, this was the race that really proved that what had been a young, talented, but inexperienced squad was now ready to take on the cream of the crop in collegiate varsity rowing. The Huskies headed to Providence to take on Brown on the Bears' home course, and fought off two late surges from an outstanding Brown varsity eight to defend the Dreissigacker Cup. In the end, the Huskies held off the Bears by just 0.4 seconds in a time of 5:26.1, setting up a new rivalry in the Northeast that extended through IRAs and will surely continue into the 2013-2014 season.

RoRy for Breakthrough Performance of the Year
Northeastern Men
The 2013 IRA Regatta marked the first time since 2005 that the Huskies of Northeastern had placed both the varsity and second varsity eights in grand finals, with the varsity eight just 0.2 seconds from the podium. John Pojednic, Ted Benford, Dan Walsh, and the whole staff at Northeastern have a lot to be proud of, including another gutsy performance in the final of the Ladies' Challenge Plate at Henley Royal Regatta, where they pushed a GB development crew—one that in most years would not have been allowed to race in that event—all the way to the line, only to lose by a canvas in a race that set a new course record of 5:58. As we said following IRAs in June, look out for Northeastern in 2014.

RoRys for Athletes of the Year
Andrew Campbell, Harvard University
While the young Andrew Campbell's resume is certainly not short on honors already, Campbell's 2013 season was his best yet. Having narrowly missed a bid for the 2012 Olympics, Campbell returned to Harvard, where he and the Crimson lightweight men racked up yet another undefeated season, culminating in an IRA title. But Campbell wasn't done there—picking up a second oar and jumping into the single, Campbell won the BLM1x in Linze, Austria, and followed that up with a seventh-place finish at senior worlds in Chungju. All we can say is, it's going to be fun to watch Andrew try to top that in the upcoming season.

Heidi Robbins, Princeton University
Heidi Robbins is, without question, one of the best athletes in the collegiate ranks. Want proof? Having won gold in the women's eight at the 2012 World U23 Championships, she returned to Princeton and stroked a very quick women's varsity eight to a silver medal finish at NCAAs this season, and later followed that up with a new world best time of 5:54.16, this time in the stroke seat of the U.S. women's eight at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Robbins likely would have earned a second international gold medal this summer were it not for a back issue that precluded her from racing in Chungju, where the U.S. women's eight again dominated. All best to Robbins for a fantastic 2013-2014 season!

Also worthy of mention (though not quite fitting into the above categories) are the Stanford lightweight women, who made it four straight IRA titles this year, despite never having been granted a No. 1 ranking entering the regatta. Evidently, the Cardinal likes it better that way—and hey, if it ain't broke...

And with that, the 2013 RoRys for the intercollegiate level have now been presented. Congratulations to all the winners for your outstanding achievements this year! Coming up next are the RoRys for the best of the best at the elite level, to be posted this Sunday.

-RR

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The 2013 RoRy Awards, Part One: The Junior Level


The 2013 season is now complete, and it's time to reflect on the outstanding achievements from another year of racing in that most wonderful of all sports, rowing. Not that we're feeling old, but RR is fast approaching its third birthday—this marks the third edition of our RoRy Awards, and, since we cover three tiers of racing here at RowingRelated, we'll be recognizing and celebrating the best of the best at the junior, collegiate, and elite levels throughout the week. And so, without further ado, the 2013 RoRys go to...

RoRys for Programs of the Year
Narragansett Boat Club Men
Narragansett Boat Club had a tremendous regatta at USRowing youth nationals in June, in the midst of considerable emotional turmoil. Top talent Chase Buchholz and his NBC teammates honored the memory of their coach Peter Wilhelm's mother, Hope, with two gold medals in Oak Ridge. En route to gold, Buchholz defeated the defending champion, Chris Wales of Seattle Rowing Center, in the men's single, before taking a second gold in the men's quadruple sculls—the boat that was christened in Hope's name. For a club of such small size to take home two golds on the national level is certainly impressive, and congratulations to Peter Wilhelm, the athletes, and everyone at Narragansett for another fine season. Also—keep an eye on Isaac Mocarski in 2014. Rising senior Mocarski is 6'5'' is the heir to Buchholz, having gone 6:20 on the erg and served as an alternate for the U.S. junior team over the summer.

The Long Beach Junior Crew Women
The Long Beach Junior women's program has been on the rise over the past several seasons, and this year was a truly special one for the Southern California-based club. LBJC brought four women's crews to youth nationals this season—a lightweight eight, lightweight four, quad, and double—and medaled in three of four events, including two gold medals. Congrats to coaches Alfredo Montenegro, Brian De Regt, Pete and Tom Graves and everyone at Long Beach Junior Crew for an outstanding regatta. Also particularly worthy of mention are Katy Newmarker and Reilly Hayes, who doubled up in the women's double and women's quad, winning both events.

RoRys for Coaches of the Year
Sandy Armstrong, Marin Rowing Association
At this point, it's safe to say that Sandy Armstrong has a knack for winning the last race. She and her MRA disciples did just that again this year despite facing a stacked program at Oakland Strokes, who were the defending champs. Here's what we said about Sandy's varsity eight going into the finals in Oak Ridge:
While Oakland outpaced Marin last year, as well as recently at the 2013 Southwest Regionals, the Strokes will have to have everything going to defeat Marin for the national title—MRA head coach Sandy Armstrong knows exactly how to prepare her crews for the big moment on the big stage (as was surely noted, Marin posted the fastest time of the day in this event on Friday in a comfortable heat win), so watch out for upsets this weekend.
They don't always have the biggest kids—the stern pair were lightweights—but they row very, very well, and execute when it counts. In hindsight, the only thing we might change about our predictions for youth nationals is indicating that an MRA victory would be an upset.

Conal Groom, Seattle Rowing Center
Groom has accomplished a tremendous amount over the past three seasons with a young program at Seattle Rowing Center, and his athletes are consistently performing at a high level, including multiple medals at junior nationals this year. As we said following the racing in Oak Ridge:
Another outstanding squad in small boats was that from Seattle Rowing Center—mad props to Conal Groom and the whole staff at SRC, as Chris Wales took home silver in the men's single and gold in the men's lightweight four. SRC also won the men's pair event, placed second in the women's quad behind LBJC, and took a very close fourth in the women's lightweight double—this are looking up in Seattle.
Things are looking up, indeed.

RoRy for Race of the Year
The Junior Women's Quad, World Rowing Junior Championships, Trakai, Lithuania
The coveted RoRy for Race of the Year goes to the A Final of the women's quad at junior worlds this year. With 500m remaining in the race, it appeared that defending champions Romania all but had the race in hand, but the race for the lesser medals was completely up for grabs, with all the boats separated by roughly one second. Then, everything changed:
The finish of the women's quad had the entire crowd gasping as all six finalist boats closed in on finish bunched tightly together. Leaders for the majority of the race and reigning World Champions, Romania then took a bad stroke with five strokes to go allowing Italy to storm through to win. The United States took silver and Germany won the bronze medal. —WorldRowing.com
The U.S. women's crew—Shawna Sims, Elizabeth Sharis, Kendall Brewer, and Cicely Madden—was in sixth place, and sprinted nearly all the way through the tightly packed field to a silver medal, making it back-to-back silvers at junior worlds for USRowing in that event.

Breakthrough Performance of the Year
Sarasota Crew
The RoRy for Breakthrough Performance of the Year goes to the men from Sarasota Crew, under head coach Casey Galvanek. This season, the 10th season for Sarasota Crew, marked the third victory in a row at the Florida State Championships, and first time that Sarasota has captured the title in the junior men's eight at youth nationals—for Galvanek, it was a victory six seasons in the making. Given the increasing depth of their program, there's no reason to assume that Sarasota won't be a major factor at the 2014 regatta as well. And, with the 2017 world rowing championships now scheduled to be held at Nathan Benderson Park, it's safe to say that rowing is on the rise in Florida.

Athletes of the Year
Boris Yotov, Azerbaijan
2013 was an incredible season for the young Boris Yotov, who scored a bronze in the junior men's single in Trakai, placed eighth in the BM2x at U23 worlds in Linz, Austria, and—most impressively—placed fourth overall in the M2x at World Rowing Cup II in Eton Dorney with standout sculler Aleksandar Aleksandrov. All this at the age of 17—that's right, Yotov was born in 1996. Not to be trite, but the future looks bright for Yotov.

Cicely Madden, U.S.A
Community Rowing, Inc.'s Cicely Madden returned to youth nationals this season determined to move up the podium, having taken bronze in the women's single in 2012. The two-time Head Of The Charles winner scored her first national title in the women's single in 2013, and finished off the summer with her second silver medal at the world level.

Congrats to all the winners on a truly fantastic season, all best for the upcoming campaign! Friday, we'll continue our week long celebration, this time with the collegiate ranks—stay tuned to see who'll take home the coveted (figurative) hardware!

-RR

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rob Waddell and Emirates Team New Zealand Dominating the 34th America's Cup



Olympic rowing gold medalist Rob Waddell, who earned his title in the men's single in Sydney, and the Kiwi crew that makes up Emirates Team New Zealand have been dominating the 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay (home to the RowingRelated International Headquarters), ever since the finals began last weekend. The racing is head-to-head and the championship is riding on a best-of-17 series—after the first seven races, Waddell & co. have won six times, having been edged by a narrow margin just once to date. Needless to say, it's looking more and more like a romp for the Kiwis, and the championship would add to an already borderline unbelievable career of success on the water for Waddell—the victory would make him the only athlete, we believe, to have won Olympic gold in rowing as well as an America's Cup title.

The above video shows the complete coverage of races six and seven, which took place yesterday afternoon in San Francisco. The competition hasn't been bereft of tense moments, however, including a qualifying race that saw Waddell and a teammate washed overboard as his crew came around a buoy at great speed (these 'airplanes on the water' are capable of speeds in the range 50mph):



Fortunately, no one was injured, and the support launches arrived in seconds. More racing to come this weekend, and you can keep up with all the action via the official website of the America's Cup.

On tap for next week is our 3rd annual RoRy Awards celebration—three days of prize-giving for the best performances during the 2012-2013 season at the junior, collegiate, and elite levels. The categories for each level are as follows:

1. Program(s) of the Year
(Includes an award for Team Efficiency at the elite level)
2. Coaches of the Year
3. Race of the Year
4. Breakthrough Performance of the Year
5. Athletes of the Year

Who will walk away with the most prestigious awards in rowing? The 2013 RoRys are just days away.

-RR

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Edition Video Of The Week: Putting Hay in the Barn with the Vikes



This week's video comes to us from the University of Victoria, and features the Vikes on their August training camp, already starting to build a base for the 2013-2014 season. Throw in a solid soundtrack, and you might just be inspired to throw down a few meters (or metres) yourself, be it on the erg, in the single, on the bike, or even on the track.

Like the Vikes, we too are already looking forward to a new season (the Head Of The Charles is now just 39 days away), but we're also still decompressing from what was an outstanding summer of international racing, especially for the U.S. men and women. So, as we start to gear up for the next go round, we'll also be reflecting on the last year with our third annual RoRy Awards—the most sought-after, highly-prized, and distinguished awards in the rowing world (in our opinion, at least). Stay tuned for more on that this week.

In the meantime, send us your favorite workout jams for a new erg(o) playlist to get you started on the path to 2014. Email us links to YouTube videos or SoundCloud posts and we'll compile our top picks into a list of tunes that'll be sure to help you rack up a few extra steady state meters this fall.

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, September 5, 2013

World Rowing Championships, 2013: Setting the Stage for the New Quadrennium in Chungju

The 2013 World Rowing Championships were, by all accounts, one of the best championships to date, with state-of-the-art facilities, good racing conditions, and a host of talented athletes coming together to officially embark on the Road to Rio.

Before the slew of hotly contested finals, however, we did it again—what can we say? Shooting our mouths off about sports just comes naturally, and what you might call the 'RR ethos' is built on picks and predictions. So, now's the time when we reflect on the best of the racing, and see how our picks fared over the course of the week in South Korea.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Video Of The Week: The World's Best Coach?



This week's video comes to us courtesy of FISA commentator and GB Olympian Martin Cross, who had a fantastic week in South Korea, posting daily blogs and video interviews throughout the world championships. This interview, however, may be one of the most important, checking in with Team GB head coach Jürgen Grobler—possibly the best rowing coach in the world right now. In typical fashion, Grobler's crews had a slight performance dip at Lucerne, but were extremely well-prepared for the main event. Team GB were one of four federations to take home a total of eight medals from the championships, and tied for the most gold medals (three) with Italy and Australia. Among those gold medals was (rather unbelievably) British Rowing's first-ever world championship title in the men's eight—a first for Grobler in that event as well.

More to come on this year's World Rowing Championships in our recap and review later this week.

In the meantime, however, and speaking of Jürgen Grobler... A Twitter account, with the handle @JurgenGrowler, is well worth a follow. Included below are just a couple examples of the gems thus far:



While exactly who is behind it remains a mystery, we can only imagine that even Grobler himself might get a chuckle or two out of it in his office in "Großbritannien."

You can read World Rowing's recap of the final day of this year's championships here, and watch the racing again here.

Also coming soon: The 2013 RoRys—who will take home the most prestigious awards in rowing at the junior, collegiate, and elite levels this year?

-RR