Australian Rowing Championships: Update 1

Today we are getting to have a day off after qualifying straight through to the final of the four. The regatta so far has had very windy conditions with most of the days being a cross head wind from the stroke side of the boat. Actually the one day it has been different was for the final of the pair when it was cross tail from bow side.

What’s happened so far?
We time trailed for lanes in the semi finals due to condition being unfair. This was not ideal, but reasonably fair for everyone. It’s been all a bit strange, some of the decisions about the way events will be run have meant some confusion on the part of athletes. The final of the pair was rowed in challenging conditions which I must admit Duncan and I both thought we were gone early in the race as we struggled in the rough water. It was the same for everyone, I think and it was not until 750m to go that we started to string a few strokes together.

Many of the pair who we know are going well either caught crabs or were crashing about so much that they didn’t really get to show their form. One of the Victorian pair of Christian Ryan and Karsten Forsteling went very well early and had a great lead. It was about that time that Duncan and I probably thought, here we go again at the Nationals. Last year it was rough also and we didn’t handle it well. So after 500m when Christian and Karsten jumped out, I know it went through my mind that it could well be a repeat of the year before. The difference this time was probably that we didn’t panic and stayed positive. Even unusually optimistic as we bounced and crashed down the course with the five other pairs. It was almost an excersise in survival and well, once we realised that the other pairs were all still with us and that the leading pair was not improving it’s margin, it was like stop thinking your not going to get on top of this and start being positive about moving back through. Duncan said after that he thought the positive calls I made were great, but he did have a few looks and thought that maybe I was just bullshitting about going back through. It’s funny I sensed we were pulling them back in and that energised me and I guess the calls reflected that. Some times you can talk your self into improving when actually your not, but that process of positive self talk gains momentum and after some 250m it is realised through boat speed and changes in margins.

Once we got to the 750m mark to go the water started to improve and we were off. Not so much a change in rate as an improvement in harmony. The rating was not high around 35 – 36 strokes per minute with 500m to go and we stayed focused on our length in the water and continued to move away. Realistically it doesn’t tell us much as all of the other crews would have various tales of survival in the rough water. Surprisingly for use we handled the conditions ok, plenty of crashes from side to side, but unlike the last years Nationals we didn’t have a boat stopper. The final result saw Christian and Karsten second, with Jeremy Stephenson and Matt Ryan third.

The next stage is the fours event and after the heat row we are keen to give it everything in the final. The competition will be hot with my Victorian team mates in their four and the crews from the Australian Institute of Sport. The men’s team is strong and the fours will show the depth to the talent coming through. The final is tomorrow and after watching the rep’s which was close, it will be on in the final.

Due to the conditions it is hard to work out who is going well, but from what we have seen and the talk around the regatta is the surge of improvement by many crews and athletes. Once the National are finished up it will be an intense period of preparation to the trials. Apologies for the focus on only the men’s sweep program, but I don’t really take much notice of the other events when racing. I may do a few interviews with some coaches before the end of the week to get some other impressions of the performances of the week.

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