would rather be writing finally A at the world champs. it has been an interesting regatta, and with one race left, it still needs to be and is far from over. at world championships, every race is raced like the last race, and yet somehow each race still gets faster and more competitive than the last because somewhere inside each rower knows the increased stakes. our event has proven quite close as expected. while the british and ukranian crews may have distinguished themselves, it is still not by much. crews 3-10 could really be interchanged nearly every time they race each other.
as for us, we finally started to find our rhythm again in the semi-final. although we had good practices that built upon each other leading up to the races, we didn’t have the same confident, fast, and yet efficient rhythm that had carried us through trials, henley, lucerne, etc. in an effort to find that rhythm and master the tailwind, we put an emphasis on relaxation in the heat. the emphasis should not have been at the cost of racing. it should have been racing with a focus on relaxation. at this level, no one is skating by (save for maybe the kiwi pair at times, but i doubt they even take their speed for granted). as a result, the race was taken to us instead of us racing it out. china and russia took the top two advancing spots, and we headed to the rep. this was not the end of the world. to race the heat and not race again until four days later was not necessarily an advantage. however, things got complicated by the weather. just as we were about to launch for our rep (one full day after the heat and one full day before the semi), they canceled the races for the day. this moved our rep one day later and eliminated our day of rest before the semi-final. to compensate for the heat, we focused on being tenacious with the rep. we scripted big “moves” reminiscent of a collegiate crew. we slugged it out. italy took an early league and then died sharply in the third 500. we lead from just around the halfway point into the last 500 when france sprinted through us. i and others in the crew found ourselves in more pain that we had all year. while we fought the appropriate fight, we did it with a labor intensive rhythm that jumped off the front end. letting france through us, worked to our advantage and dealt us a semi that was slightly easier than the other one. we faced ukraine, china, poland, new zealand, and switzerland. poland and new zealand we had faced before at lucerne. we knew switzerland was a clever crew, but an attainable one. we also knew that china had weaknesses in their armor. all we needed was top 3. entering the last 500m of the semi, we were in second place for some of the strokes with china, switzerland, and us all right across. while the body was rowed well, we shortened up in the sprint and were tapped. we did not move the boat forward. we finally rowed the body of the race with our rhythm. picking the boat up skillfully on the go and sending it out with building speed each stroke. despite finding our efficient rhythm again, i think we were too biologically tapped from the day before to keep up with the other crews. that being said, switzerland raced the day before and now has a spot in the A final.
one summation is that we need more horsepower. i don’t like hearing this. not because i do not believe it to be true, but because that is one constant truth about virtually all crews. it never hurts to be bigger, faster, stronger. additionally, this is the caveat people have had about our quad from the start, and it pisses me off that people may think we now have yielded a result that validates their opinion. up to this point, we fought tactfully with all that we had at our disposal. moving forward, we’ll continue to do so while always looking to increase what is at our disposal.
important info. if you are a killer detective, then you can find all you need to know at www.worldrowing.com. that being said, i usually can’t.
it really is interesting how sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t. somewhat similarly and much more pertinent, rowing next to someone can both cure and complicate at different times. our first row with another crew was on Tuesday with the mens eight. the rows up to that point felt disjointed at times and peppered with decent strokes here and there. saddling up with the M8+, despite a significant and appropriate stagger, proved a really worthwhile practice. we stayed focus, but still had a bigger picture of speed to focus on so that we didn’t nitpick ourselves apart. this workout was simply a 90% 2k for us @ 30spm. we found our swagger and kept it rolling in subsequent practices.
next, we did 4x250m pieces with the lightweight men’s eight. two with a start, one at base, and one with a sprint. i think the workout catered to the lightweights a bit, who attacked each piece admirably. it was good for us to be next to an anxious crew that we didn’t want to get away from us. also, helped us to jumpstart our starts a bit.
today, we did a 1k with both the LM8+ again and the mens straight four (M4-). the workout went well and served its purpose. we whipped out a fast, but somewhat brutish 1k. the point of this workout was to have our last longer piece of all out work before the race. this piece usually ranges from 1k-2k and almost always feels brutal. there’s something about reawakening the aerobic and anaerobic systems during a taper that really burns. as a result, the pain point of this workout was physiological. we went into wanting to use the two other crews as real motivation to get our lungs burning. as a result, i think we rowed a little bit more outside ourselves than the other pieces. the water had a lot of bounce at times and that coupled with loud crews, a herd of coaches on shore, and not wanting to lose an inch to our neighbors made for some pretty donkey moments. in some ways, this would be how side-by-side can complicate things in training. at the same time, we went into this workout emphasizing that external focus for the sake of physiology and pumpup pride.
overall, training at the bosbaan is trending well. we’ve seen some of the other quads on and off the water. many lineups have been switched. many new crews present. what was already a competitive event has definitely gotten even more so.
so we left this:
but we wouldn’t have it any other way. it’s a real skill being able to recreate home wherever you go. in this sense, i’m not so much talking about a physical domicile, but rather the mentality, spirit, and physical being you have while at home. i mean the surroundings may be different in a bunch of ways. the water may have a different feel or prevailing wind, but it’s still water. regardless of any differences, we’re here to do the same things that we do back home on big hosmer. yet the travel, the different bed, different boat, etc., all make this a challenge. recreating what was routine just a matter of days ago is suddenly a challenging thing.
today’s row (our third day here) was a good reminder of that. we changed the load slightly on our oars, but everything else was the same. it took nearly 2/3s of the row to settle ourselves down into the same stroke that we rowed with the slightly different rig. it was as if our bodies and mind felt the load, recognized the difference, and then decided the stroke had to be different as well. in actuality, we needed to do the same things: place the blade, connect the load, then progressively move that load through the stroke with a constant acceleration in the puddle.
the bosbaan is an awesome body of water, but also a challenging one. there are flags every 250m that go across the lanes (instead of simply having every 500m marked. it is exactly 8 lanes wide and 2000 meters long with only a little room to spare for docking and launching at the finish. it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. to me, it really feels like a swimming pool, and i’m cool with that. the shape of this body of water is close to my ideal.
that being said, there are some challenges. the prevailing wind parallels the course in a tailwind, which is a good thing. however, the prevailing wind also seems to be a persistent wind. in the first few days here, we’ve seen our fair share of white caps, which all like to culminate and crescendo at the finish of the course. additionally, with just being 8 lanes wide, traffic patterns get interesting once racing starts. you warmup in lane 0 to the start, come down lane 1 between races, and return up lane 0. similarly, you cooldown by traveling up lane 7 and using lane 6 in between races. right now, there’s only a handful of crews here: USA, ARG, JPN, CHN, and a few others. even so, the place feels packed with only a small fraction of competitors present. this will rapidly change starting even this afternoon.
one good thing about our boat as a crew is that once we show up to a race, we get more cohesive than we were at home. just before leaving, you can sense just how much time we spend with each other. now that we’re in a new setting with a tangible goal in sight, we realize what a decent group of dudes we are.
we’ve been mostly internal so far. just trying to adjust to the new environment. this afternoon however we’ll do a 90% piece with the USA M8+, which will help us to keep working within ourselves without grinding the internal gears too much.
We’re there, man. Arrived in Amsterdam. Plenty more to come, but for now cause I’m jetlagged and frustrated with the net, just some travel pics.