Race Weekend

One of the two trailers departing from Brno

Saturday

A four races day with the following program, first two editions of rowing in the single (Masters and Open), then on to the Masters 8+, and finally the Masters 4+. Yes, a coxed four.

But before that, it was time for my sons to collect the first medals for the Roosendaal family. My son Dominik won his race in the boys 2x, beating the competition by 7 seconds, in a race over “1000m”. My son Robin won his “Boys 11 years” single over “500m”, beating the competition by 10 seconds. That was an important win, his first win in his first season of racing.

The racing in Breclav is difficult. It is not at all about going as fast as possible over a straight course. Here is a map of my race in the single:

There are three “lanes” on this narrow river, and you row through a turn. To compensate for the turn, the start alignment is stacked, with lane 1 (outer) in front, and lane 3 in the back, by about a (single) boat length. At the start, you try to aim at a buoy which is in the first turn. You must row around “your” buoy. It is okay when it passes under your rigger, but you are not allowed to have it to the other side of your boat. When that happens, you are immediately disqualified. The problem is that the buoy is hardly visible.

So you end up trying to find a balance between looking over your shoulder to avoid missing the buoy and looking behind and rowing straight. The race feels like three straight segments, separated by almost 90 degrees turns. It looks easy on paper, but I have seen numerous boats disappearing into the side canal.

My 1x Masters race was quite uneventful. I didn’t row in my own single, because my daughter Lenka had her heat almost immediately after me. Instead, I took one of our bow wing rigger club Wintechs. Not a bad boat, but I do like rowing in my own single better. I guess it is just a question of being used to and being comfortable with my rigging parameters, as well as the fact that the Wintech is for slightly heavier weights than me.

Anyway, I started in lane 1, with a furious start which brought me comfortably into the lead, and after that I just watched out for passing the buoys on the correct side.

I finished in 28spm, not interested in trying to maximize my power over this race. I won a nice medal and a cool beer.

Meanwhile, my daughter Lenka finished second in her heat, but she qualified for the final because the winner of her race was disqualified for passing a buoy on the wrong side. My wife Romana got beaten in the Women’s Masters Double, by a local crew who could row the turn with their eyes closed.

An hour and a half later, it was time for my heat in the Open 1x. I was trying to hold 310W for this row, in my own single, this time. I was up against one guy from my own club, and a fast looking guy from Slovakia. The winner would go to the final, and the second place finishing closest to the winner, of the two heats. This is an interesting way to do it, because it opens the door for agreements. If I would be second behind Ondrej, he could make sure to finish just before me to minimize the difference, while “our” guy in the other heat would try to row away as much as possible from the field.

Things didn’t turn out that way, of course. The Slovak guy was much too fast for both of us, and the confused referee told Ondrej to move to the left when she should have moved to the right, so he ended up rowing part of the race in my lane 1, adding about 100m to his total distance, and finishing just ahead of me.

Anyway, it was a good race simulation. Here are the two races compared:

After the Open 1x heat, I had just enough time to get some fresh water in my bottle and then I had to run to the eight. Three boats, so a full field, but the average age of the third boat was about 20 years older than us. At this regatta, in these kind of situations, we sometimes agree to row gently for the first 800m and only race the final straight stretch, and we expected to do the same.

The problem was that the starter’s megaphone wasn’t working, so we were caught by surprise when the Slovak eight next to us started, and we immediately forgot our gentlemen’s agreement and went to race mode.

It was a very tough race but in the second part of the turn we managed to pass them (we were doing the outer turn) due to our coxswain’s steering genius. We took the sharpest line we could get without rounding our buoys on the wrong side. Blades were overlapping with the Slovak eight in one place, but that was due to their steering mistake, and they overcorrected and steered too close to the bank and overhanging branches.

My final “win” of the day was the race in the 4+ Masters. This time we kept our promise and rowed this like a steady state training, beating the two other boats easily.

I had no races on Sunday, so I spent most of the day in the shadow under a tree, watching the kids race. Here’s a picture of my daughter after winning the Junior’s double:

Verca, the girl on the left, is very happy. It’s her first win in rowing.

And here are two videos that capture the atmosphere of the races. From my place under the trees I filmed first a girls’ singles race, and then a boys’ quad race (with my son Dominik as the cox’n). In the quad race, the boat with the blue blades is from our club.

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