Czech Open Masters Day 1

Friday

After lunch, Romana and I took off to Třeboň. The weather forecast was 15-20 degrees with wind and rainshowers, so we had all the rowing/racing gear in our bags: Long sleeves, long legs uni, short sleeves, regular uni. Sweaters. Caps. Suncream as well as umbrellas. Two bikes on the back of the car, and wing riggers in the back. We arrived in Třeboň after a 2.5 hour drive which passed without major incidents. Checked in to the hotel and drove to the rowing club/lake/regatta venue to claim rack space for our club’s boats.

We arrived there about 10 minutes after our trailer. We just saw the trailer driver speeding off in his car. He is not a Masters rower, so I just drove the trailer, parked it, and left. So it was up to Romana and myself to claim rack space and a space for our event shelter tent. We had a choice between selfishly just taking care of my single and our double, or try to unload the fours and eights, pairs and doubles, as well as set up the tent. We took a middle road, first claiming our own rack space, then trying to claim a few places with piles of oars and sculls. Then we towed our very heavy tent to the last suitable sport for event tents, and tried to set it up. By then we were helped by Petr “Bulda” Novotny and Romana’s doubles partner Slavka.

It was about 13 degrees and windy and the lake didn’t really look inviting. Also, it was getting late, and we had to drive to the local camping to make arrangements for our club’s training camp in August. So in the end we decided to skip the training and just head back to the hotel after all the chores were done.

svet

Trebon situation with training pattern, dominant wind direction and a few landmarks.

Saturday

At 8, we were present at the club representatives meeting. No big changes, except that my doubles race on Sunday was moved to an hour earlier, because some rowers competed both in the Masters C Double and in the Masters D 8+. I noted the change, and that was that.

Before, during and after the meeting there was a lot of hand shaking, nodding, and small talk. For Masters rowers in the Czech Republic, this is the annual event, and it is as much a social event as a championship event. And this year was even better, with a big participation from Austria, Poland, Slovenia, and a few rowers from Germany. The Czech Masters scene, completed with 60 crews from abroad may make this the biggest Masters event in Europe after Euromasters and Masters Worlds. So there was a lot of catching up to do, especially with rowers from Prague and Bohemia, who row their regional races and I don’t meet them very often.

The races are run like most Masters races, i.e. if there are more than 6 rowers in one category, several “finals” are rowed, and medals are handed out for each “final”. Gold medals for a first place, and silver and bronze only if there are 4 or more competitors in the same age category in the same race. Sometimes races are combined for different age categories because of a lack of competitors, so the race can have several “winners” (one for each age category). That is nice, because you have a higher chance of racing in a full field, but can be slightly confusing because you have to remember which lane numbers you are competing with.

After that, it was time to retreat to the tent and concentrate on my first race of the day. The Masters C single. In the mean time, Romana rowed her first race, coming second in the mixed eight, D category, finishing second out of three D boats.

Then it was time for me to do my warming up and row to the start in the single. I was quite nervous for this race. There was a nasty side wind and I rowed in a heavy field, with Mr Mitas who beat me by 9 seconds (probably easily) a year ago, and Mr Nedoba (“Kazi”) who is back after a year of absence and has always beaten me on the Nationals (but I have beaten him twice this year, once in his home regatta and once on the Slovak Nationals).

The alignment at the start was a tricky thing as there are no stake boats and there was a strong side wind. You have to start lining up in the buoys to your right, and hope that the lining up goes fast enough that you only drift to the middle of your lane. I used my tactics of being slightly behind all the others. When you succeed in that, you are the guy who is moving in the right direction and when they start fast (because of the wind), you have a slight advantage of a slightly lighter first stroke and achieving a slightly higher end speed. The tactics succeeded very well this time.

I started off well and was leading the pack, with Kazi less than half a boat length behind me, and Petr Mitas, who was caught by surprise by the fast starting commands, half a boat behind.

The leading position didn’t last long. Petr rowed right through me in the first 150m and took over the lead. Kazi was still half a length behind. During the first 500m I managed to make that a full length. There were a few very strong wind gusts around the water slide (see map above) and some nasty chop from an umpire launch right at the 500m point. I rowed through them slightly better than Kazi and he started to fall behind.

There was no point in trying to catch Petr Mitas. I will show you why. Here’s a snapshot I took from the grandstand during one of the other races (Masters D 8+). Mitas is the smiling giant body builder who is waving at me. The grey haired guy next to him is Mr Polasek, another fast rower from my region,who beat me in Hodonin. The bald guy with the blue uni is Kazi.

Trebon 007

So with 400m to go I was in second position. I was rowing away from Kazi but sprinting to catch up with Petr Mitas was pointless. He would just accelerate slightly. I also had to row another race that day (the quad), so I just rowed to defend my position. That still required rowing pretty fast, because I didn’t want Kazi to come any closer, in case I would catch a crab or hit a buoy.

So I got silver. Overall I am not so happy with the rowing. It was erratic in places, but I guess the side wind is the reason. It was a gusty wind, which catches you by surprise, and I had to work hard to not be blown into the buoys.

Single race

I wore a HR belt during this race and exported the data directly to TrainingPeaks from CrewNerd, after which Tapiriik.com took care of syncing with Strava and SportTracks.

The two plots are made from the same data set, but one was imported from Strava while the other was imported from SportTracks. I will stick to importing the data from SportTracks. It seems that Strava is doing something “smart” which leads to the funny pace peak directly after the start. Here are the full results for the two “C” races.

MC1x

Two races after my singles race, Romana rowed a combined B/C/E/D race in the four (4-). She won a gold medal for showing up at the start in this race with one boat from each age category. 🙂

Just before my quad race, a few hours later, Romana came second in the Women’s D 8+. No medal for her, because there were only two D boats in a combined D/F race. I stroked our quad. This one was even more difficult to align at the start and we only succeeded with the second attempt. I wasn’t sure at all what to expect here. I have proclaimed before that we have a slow quad this year. The race was very hard work. The guys behind me were not completely in sync, which drives a stroke to row a too high SPM with a wrong rhythm. Exactly that happened, which means that you cannot take that fraction of a second rest during the recovery and the whole 1k becomes a cramped affair. I didn’t wear the HR belt during this row, but I am sure my heart rate was very high. We did a successful 10 stroke push to defend against Blesk who were closing in on us. Then our bowman called for our “legendary strong last minute”, but I didn’t have the energy to raise the stroke rate.  By that time I was so exhausted that I had difficulty with steering. I managed to stay away of the buoys, but there were a few zig zags around the center line of the lane.

We started at >40spm, rowed 38spm for 200m, then dropped to 35-36spm at cruising speed. We were beaten by an “A” crew in lane one and by Neratovice, who also beat us a year ago:

MC4x

Masters A/B combined race. The “A” boat just had to show up to get a gold. We got a silver with a slow time.

 

That was the Saturday for me, but Romana wasn’t done yet. She was doing a 4 race Saturday. I moved to the grandstand and arrived in time for her race in the double. Together with her bow girl Slavka from Breclav, they won a race with four C doubles, beating the silver crew by 10 seconds. Lucky number 13.

Trebon 014

Trebon 015

Trebon 016

Trebon 017

And here are some pictures from our club’s team competing in the “giga eight” category. Not sure what the English word is for this historical boat type. Clinker eight? You may wonder what the kid is doing in this crew. For this category, the minimum age of 27 years was dropped. Only the average age of the crew decides the category:

Trebon 019Trebon 021Trebon 022

After the races ended, Kazi and I took my double for a quick 4km of testing. In Hodonin, we had been rowing a Hodonin club boat. My double is newer (that’s unimportant) and better rigged (that is important). So we had to do a few km to make sure we had Kazi’s footstretcher in the right position. We did a few race starts and a few race pace pieces. Just a few strokes, but we were flying!

We ended the day with a restaurant dinner and a brief visit to the local brewery where we met many of the other competitors.

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