Showing posts from May, 2018

American Club Rowing Experience, Part 6: Boarding House Blues

Training with PBC (Photo: Potomac Boat Club/Flickr ) Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman used to say that tilapia ' thins the skin .' To look truly shredded before a bodybuilding competition, Coleman was saying you need to have a low body-fat percentage and be effectively dehydrated. The low-fat, high-protein, low-water tilapia is a superfood for this purpose. For the same outcome, Mr. Coleman might just try rowing in DC for the summer. We have waffles. Some teams spend the entire season preparing for and attending only one regatta; perhaps a Club Nationals, or a Canadian Henley, or Masters Nationals. Especially in a Henley year, the PBC summer—for better or worse—tries a bit to be everything to everyone; like Hemingway's Paris, it's more of a moveable feast . That's why we kick it off with a brunch. Nay, not just any brunch—the Strawberry Brunch. A joint effort of Potomac's Social Committee and men's team for years now, it's the effect

American Club Rowing Experience, Part 5: A Fine Rowing-Work-Life Balance

Training with PBC at Rivanna Reservoir (Photo: Andrew Neils ) Matt Miller , I think about you sitting in class in business school from time to time. Do your classmates know they're sitting next to a guy that pulled a 5:40 2k? Over 10,000 athletes competed at the Rio games, but that 5:40—that's really rarified air (yes, yes, I know about Joshua Dunkley-Smith ). And that was in the Rio build-up, so that's a window into what an elite athlete with tremendous physiology can do when you filter out all the 'other stuff'—nothing but the goal. But what about when there's a lot of other stuff? While full-time focus on your sport typically helps, it's certainly possible to be near-elite, or even elite-elite, with a full-time job; this year's Boston Marathon was a great example of this. Yuki Kawauchi won the Boston Marathon in 2018. He is a full-time teacher in Japan, and runs marathons—runs them really, really often, actually—regularly under 2:20. The sec

University Rowing: Who's Faster, Washington or Oxford Brookes?

Washington training on the Montlake Cut (Photo: RR) The 2018 Windermere Cup showcased two of the world's top teams in men's university rowing, and the final did not disappoint. While the Huskies took a lead of roughly a length early on their home course, Brookes never let go. Coming into the last 250 meters, it looked as if Brookes might have the change of speed to just edge Washington, but the Huskies executed their plan and held on through the finish line. In the end, 0.457 of a second separated the two crews. The Case for Brookes Oxford Brookes traveled about 6,000 miles to race Washington on the Huskies' home water. That's naturally going to have an effect on your performance, just as lineup changes might also alter your speed (for better or worse) in the last days before a race. The racecourse at the Montlake Cut is unlike anywhere else in the sport—yes, it's part of Washington's propaganda machine to hammer that point, but it's really true

American Club Rowing Experience, Part 4: Ergos in the Ballroom

Potomac Boat Club training on Rivanna Reservoir (Photo: Andrew Neils ) Your erg room used to have a piano in it (probably). You realize that there weren't always ergs there, don't you? And if your erg room used to have a piano in it, then somewhere in your boathouse are old black-and-white photos of formal parties in the building (picture the July 4th Ball from The Shining ). And if this is all true, your boathouse surely has a ballroom (you know, a room for having fancy… galas?) It’s hard to imagine the Social Register crowd ever presenting their daughters to society in the same room where I puked after a PB on "The Cooler," but I'll be damned if it isn't still universally called 'the ballroom.' So few of the fundamentals in rowing—if any—have changed. Catch together, finish together; push with the legs. For the love of God, back the blade in, bow four. But a sport is more than its fundamentals. At some point, the ballroom became the erg r

American Club Rowing Experience, Part 3: Rogues, Rivalries, and Traditions

Potomac Boat Club training in Virginia (Photo: Andrew Neils ) The Boston Marathon had a long tradition of tolerating "bandits," or runners sneaking into the race, bib-less, without having paid. They had to crack down eventually of course, but I assume it was seen as in keeping with the amateur roots of the event and the local traditions involved—let those lovable rogues have their fun! I don't think there's an analog in the rowing world. It's awfully hard to sneak a single into the Head Of The Charles starting chute, for instance; it's surprisingly difficult to sneak an eight into the Georgetown lightweights vs. Temple lightweights dual (we tried). And American rowing has no shortage of rogues, some lovable, some not; the 'Rude and Smooth Crew,' the "Dirty Dozen" eight, the Riverside Meatwagon. * We have the mischief-makers—so, where's the mischief? Sure, every once in a while, perhaps a college crew gets to race at a World C

The American Club Rowing Experience, Part 2: What Makes Henley Royal Regatta So Special?

Part 2 of our series with Potomac Boat Club (Photo: Jordan Sandberg) The following is the second installment of our series on American Club Rowing, with Peter Clements of Potomac Boat Club. Here, Clements discusses what makes Henley Royal Regatta such an important experience for a club, or even elite rower. Why Henley Royal Regatta? Racing at Henley is running the Belmont Stakes, Preakness, and Kentucky Derby three days in a row (plus another two races if you're lucky), but in a jacket and tie, using borrowed equipment, and on perhaps the most difficult race course ever devised. Most important to consider is that in this analogy, you're the horse. Old newsreel footage of FDR watching IRAs in a special-built train car, or the gilded age yachts that allow old Bonesmen to follow Harvard-Yale hint at this sort of experience, but the deep, deep history on which Henley is built puts the Regatta in a class all its own. The spectacle and experience of the event makes it