Departing the Gold Coast

My family and I are travelling back to Melbourne after 10 days on the Gold Coast. Training has gone pretty well. We have made a few modifications to our boat set up and adjusted the rig to make us feel more comfortable. Most session that we have done have been of a fairly high quality, but we did have a few moments of frustration. Little things really, but Duncan and I were very intent on make some changes to ensure we don’t settle for a standard that’s good, but not great.

Ever pair has a unique way of moving together. Over the years I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to row with some of the best partners and Duncan is right up there with the best of them. It amazes me how different each combination has been. I guess the accumulated experiences are a big reason why I can adapt quiet well and for someone who has spent most of his rowing life in a single, Duncan has done a great job learning to row the pair. With that in mind we still have little things that we have to always stay focused on improving.

Years ago a coach said to me that each rowers force curve and style is like their fingerprint. You have it for life and to a degree this is true which is the reason why pairs either work or don’t. You can certainly develop them, but if the force curves and style are to different then it is a big challenge.

Many scullers have a distinctive force curve and style that they often develop in isolation from others. The hours spent adapting to the load of the single and the time spent honing their sculling style is to ensure that in the most physical of events they will perform their best. The pair is different in many ways from the single. It’s not quiet as physical, but far more skilful. Duncan and I have discussed this on many occasions and we have come to an agreement about this. It’s not that the single doesn’t require a skilful movement; it’s just that we have commented on the skills required for the pair and even the concentration is critical. You just can’t drive it along and hope that it will go fast. There is a certain amount of sensitivity that needs to remain to ensure that you move the boat together with out wasting energy.

With that in mind we have a great mix for the understanding of how physical the rowing can be using the feeling of the single and how harmonious and skilful the pair needs to be to optimise. Getting the mix right is key to finding the rhythm, speed and ease of movement. There is an element of momentum that can be achieved with two people that allows a subtle flow to happen with less effort. Particularly when the application of force is optimal for picking up and maintaining the speed of the boat together.

So is our pair a natural fit? Not quiet which is a great thing because it keeps us focused on the challenge of finding the perfect harmony. It is very close to perfect at times and the subtle shifts in how we row challenges the notion of the finger print philosophy my former coach spoke of.

This morning before leaving the Gold Coast we have one final row and well there was a great moment when a call I made to Duncan about square release and out side hand control achieved a response that was remarkable. The next 15 strokes or so were amazing. It felt like we were rowing a hot knife through butter. The stability was as if were rowing on a big flat blank that was wide a buoyant. Each stroke developed and grew in such a way that I felt we could have tried anything to upset the platform and nothing could have shaken us. It t felt sure and confident and as we came past the boating pontoon I made mental note to let Duncan know just how good I thought the rowing had just been. In fact I must have sounded like an over excited kids because the words didn’t even come out right.

The training on the Gold Coast had some highs and some challenges. We made some great changes and have taken some risks. We have spent the last 10 days with out our coach Chris O’Brien, but Duncan’s dad Reg Free did assist us on a few occasions with his observations and some video he took.

My family have been great through this period as I become a bit difficult to live with when getting close to competition. Melanie and the kids are amazing at putting up with me. The challenge is being able to switch the focus from training and challenging how we row to spending time enjoying my family.

We did play a great game of tag on the beach, which I guess was a combination of activity and quality time together. They are wonderful and if it were not for them I would be doing what I am doing. They support me to take on the challenge of rowing. Its through the support and love they provide that I get much of my energy to train and prepare.

I love them with all my heart and once again as we travel together I am reminded that they too face the challenge of this journey. The challenge of how to make it work and to ensure all the effort and preparation is worth it. Doing it together doesn’t just apply to what happens on the water. This is truly a team effort and one that I am happy to say is more enjoyable because of our families.

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