Saturday: Otrokovické Sprinty Race Report

The day started early. The Otrokovice sprint races are a big regional event for the kids, especially those who have learned to row over the summer. So in addition to the big club trailer, I had to tow my own little trailer with a few boats. We picked up the trailer and set off at 6:45. It’s about 110km to Otrokovice, which is east of Brno.

We had our traditional taking the wrong turn event 500m before the final destination. This is the third time I drive to Otrokovice and I haven’t been able to take the right turn in any of those times. I remember you turn at the gas station, but there is one turn before and one after the station. It’s the one after. Remember to read this blog, a year from now. Here’s a map of the race venue:

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Otrokovice Sprint races. Start, Finish and Race Course drawn roughly

It’s about 450m on a very small lake. At the start, you are a few meters from the bank on one end. You cross the lake diagonally and after the finish line you have to stop hard to avoid bumping into the bank on the other end. The course is marked with white jerry cans on both sides, with 6 narrow unmarked lanes between them. There usually is a lot of bumping into jerry cans and crossing of lanes.

We arrived in time to join The Meeting. This was an important one, because the organizers had made some mistakes with the Czech version of Regattacentral, so many on-line registrations were lost … We went race through race with all the club representatives and happily deleted and added entries. Arriving at the men’s open 2x, I contemplated adding myself but looking at the field I thought it would be a waste of time. Too fast, those young guys. But Mr Akai from the Breclav rowing club raised his hand and said that their LW guy Mr Susky would like to start if there was a partner for him. So I raised my hand and said that if he didn’t mind rowing with a Veteran, I would be more than happy to race. Susky is a fast, 25 years young LW guy, so why not?

It’s that kind of race. Last minute crew formation. Anyway, that split second decision meant that I suddenly had only 45 minutes to the start time, so I headed back to the boats to rig the double and find Mr Susky. I succeeded in both tasks.

There was a strong cross/tailwind and quite some chop, especially on the second half of the course.

2x Men

We had a good start, quickly rowed out of the pack and were leading by a bit about 350m into the race. Bratislava was starting to overtake us, when the referee waved his flag and stopped the race. The local club, Otrokovice had crossed lanes and hindered another crew. We rowed back to the start for a second try. We had to wait a bit at the start, because they started off some other races before they had time for us. There was a bit of joking between the crews, accusing Otrokovice of trying to disqualify all other crews so they could win.

The second start was as good as the first one, but somehow we didn’t end up in the front. There were 2 boats in front of us. We tried to catch them back, but a slight steering error caused some flag waving by the referee, so we had to get back to our lane and row a few extra meters. We didn’t hinder anyone, so the race was not stopped. We finished third in 1:21.6.

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Other events

My single race would be at 3:30pm, so I had a lot of time to watch the kids racing. My daughter Lenka rowed to a third place in the double, missing the aggressiveness that you need for these sprints.

Lenka & Iva in the double

Lenka & Iva in the double

There was a fun race between three boys’ 13/14 year pairs from our club. Unfortunately, the guys who were expected to win came in last because of a broken rudder cord.

The big fight in pairs

The big fight in pairs

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Winners on paper, but if you have a broken rudder cord … Disappointment after the race

There was also a lot of excitement about a coxed quad, because the kids had taken only 3 wing riggers, plus one wing rigger from another Wintech boat, which didn’t fit. The wings are in bags which are clearly marked. A lesson for them. We went to ask the referees if they were allowed to start as a 3x+. They allowed us, but insisted that the fourth guy sits on the boat, in order to have roughly the same weight. They rowed in this manner and finished second …

Quad of shame going to the start

Quad of shame going to the start

My son Dominik had been added to a quad during the Meeting, and because his coach had told the other coach that Dominik is very experienced, they put him in stroke seat. It was fun. They came in second place.

Very Experienced Stroke on a coxed quad

Very Experienced Stroke on a coxed quad

Iva and Tereza won the girls 13/14 double with a nice fight in the final 200m. Iva will go to Romana’s training group after this race.

Romana pushes off Tereza & Iva to the start

Romana pushes off Tereza & Iva to the start

Lenka & Iva still in second position

Lenka & Iva still in second position

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Now they have passed Olomouc and are leading! Yay!

It's a win, but first hold hard unless you want to crash into the bank

It’s a win, but first hold hard unless you want to crash into the bank

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Proud coach Petra with the winning crew

Lenka rowed a single where she finished third. Slightly more aggressively rowed than that double race.

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Dominik also rowed a single race where he came third. He rowed a bit more ugly then he usually does. I don’t have a picture of this race, because it was too close to my single.

Some random shots from the race venue:

My two sons and the daughter of one of our coaches

My two sons and the daughter of one of our coaches

Yours truly and his wife Romana

Yours truly and his wife Romana

Beach girls

Beach girls

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There was just one dock, so most of the crews launched from the ice-cold water

There was just one dock, so most of the crews launched from the ice-cold water

Masters Single

I focused on just one opponent, Mr Joška Akai from Břeclav. Right, he was the one who coupled me with Susky for the Men’s Open 2x. Apart from that, he also added himself to the Masters Single race. This guy was dangerous. He has beaten me on the Nationals in 2014. By quite a big margin. I wasn’t 100% fit for that race, having had just a few hours of sleep before the start, but still.

The others. I thought I could have them. And so did they, at least so they told me in the pre-race chat.

I had a good start and made sure I executed my race plan. Strong start, then immediately 10 strokes as hard as possible, followed by 10 more hard strokes. Repeat until finish. It was important to get a lead right from the start, because of the bad chop in the second half of this race. On such a short distance one bad stroke can be fatal.

Indeed, I managed to be half to three quarters of a length ahead of Mr Akai, with the others falling behind. When we arrived in the bad water, the Akai managed to come back to half a length behind me and I was nervously waiting for his final attack that would crush me.

It didn’t come and I crossed the finish line first. Yeah!!

I won a medal and some sponsor gifts. Two faux leather items that I will probably throw away, some energy bars that were eaten almost immediately, two tubes of hand cream.

The rich bounty

The rich bounty – the edible parts already gone

Mix Double

There was an open entry Mix Double race. The entries were open until noon, so everybody could find a partner of the opposite sex and register. Age categories could be mixed. In the end they made three races, based on average age.

My daughter Lenka and I have an average age of 29 so we were put in the group with average age between 18 and 30. We were up against Mr Susky (25) with a 19 year old girl, two trainers from our club (42 and 20 years old). Our double had both the oldest and the youngest participant to the final.

First start was OK but the race was stopped after 10 strokes, because the boat next to us had hindered another boat.

Mix Double Race at the start

Mix Double Race at the start. We are the crew on the right

The second start was great and we were in the race. We pulled hard and were rowing in front. Mr Susky and his 19 year old took the lead, but only by a length. Lenka and I were in second place. I thoroughly enjoyed this, because whatever the finishing order I really wanted this to be a real battle.

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We are the second crew from the left. I believe this is the moment when the referee told us to move more to the right

There were some steering issues. The crew to our right was moving towards us, and we were moving towards the other Brno crew to our left. I let it happen, because we were leading and I didn’t feel we were so close that it was dangerous. I mean, their blades were more than 10 cm from their blades. Finally the referee thought it was too much and waved the flag. I corrected a bit and the referee was happy, and didn’t stop the race.

In the final 100m that Brno crew actually started to accelerate by a lot, and we were slowing down with Lenka’s fire dying a bit. I think they beat us on the finish line, but the speaker announced us in second place, so we’ll keep it at that!

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Just after crossing the finish line. Second place official result: Not Bad

Great race and a great experience to race with my daughter.

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Yours truly and his daughter in an unelegant position, trying to leave the double, stepping into ice cold water, and trying to avoid being blown onto the beach by the strong wind. All at the same time.

Then we prepared the boats for transport, drove the trailer back to the club and the Roosendaal family ended the Saturday with a success celebration dinner at the local Thai restaurant.

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