Morava Championship – A Tale of Three Doubles

As I have written in the Saturday report, the Morava Championship is important as a qualification for the Youth Nationals, and an opportunity for clubs to get points for the national ranking by putting as many boats in the race as possible.

What’s at stake in the double?

My usual double partner was not available this weekend because of an unexpected issue in his business. As it is key to have many boats racing, our club registered me to row together with Jiri, a 49 year old sweep rower who started rowing the single a few months ago. Jiri has a 6:30 erg score and is a superb sweep rower, having rowed with our Men until a few months ago. Now he is learning the single, with good results. He is able to be very fast in calm weather but in worse conditions he is still too insecure to be fast.

There is another reason why our double race was interesting, and that is the line-up for the Masters Nationals and Masters Worlds quad. We have 5 people who want to be in that boat, potentially six if Jiri starts to be interested. These are myself, and then two doubles, let’s call them double A and double B. Double A is training twice a day and row nothing else than their double. They are Masters B (35-42 year). Then there is double B.Double B train about 3 times per week. They are Masters A (27-35 year). I train at least 5 times a week, about half of the time in the single, and the rest in various crews. I am a Masters C.

How do we select for the quad? The problem is that Double A think that Double B don’t train enough to be qualifying for the quad. So for Double B, this 2km Double race would be an opportunity to show that they are not far behind.

When Jiri and I discussed our race tactics, we thought we would easily beat Double B and had a chance to beat Double A. I had put Jiri on stroke, as he is a bit heavier than I, and I also thought it would be easier for me to copy him than the other way round. Another advantage of me in the bow position is that I would be able to give him some technique instructions during warming up and race.

So here we are at the start of an Open Category 2km Double race.

Lane 1: CVK Brno “Double A” – training base > 1500km

Lane 2: CVK Brno “Sander/Jiri” – training base = 7km exactly (4 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday during warming up)

Lane 3: CVK Brno “Double B” – training base about 300km estimated

Lane 4: Lodni Sporty Brno. Some young guys but not necessarily fast ones

Lane 5: Breclav. Some young guys. One of them has a confirmed erg score of 6:05.

Lane 6: Lodni Sporty Brno. Experienced LightWeight guys.

So Jiri’s predicted outcome would be winner LS Brno lane 6, then Breclav, then LS Brno lane 4 or Lane 1 “Double A”, then my double, and last “Double B”. I disagreed with that, claiming that we should be able to beat Double A as well and come in fourth or third place.

It’s clear that reputations were at stake here.

So far the predictions. Let’s look at the reality.

The Doubles Race

10:38 AM, temperature already above 30 degrees, no wind or slight headwind.

Jiri and I were very well out of the starting blocks. 40spm and sharp. I was monitoring the “double A” to my left and we had about 1 or 2 meters on them. The good think was that when we calmed down our stroke after 20 start strokes, we started to pull away from them.

A quick glance to the right revealed that Lanes 3 (“Double B”) and 4 were falling behind as well, and lanes 5 and 6 didn’t seem to be too far out.

We passed the first 500m in good shape, doing 33spm and rowing in the front of the race. Breclav on lane 5 were next to us and LS Brno on lane 6 were just a bit ahead. Interestingly, “Double A” was rowing in last position, a three boat lengths behind us, and “Double B” together with LS Brno on lane 4 where rowing next to each other, about 2 lengths behind.

The situation remained unchanged until about 750m when I heard the “go” from the Breclav boat. I decided to hang on in our current stroke rate and do our push 200m later. Breclav didn’t gain much on us so I tried our 10 stroke push a little before the 1000m mark. Now it was our turn to not gain much.

Between 1000m and 500m to go we were starting to fall apart a bit. The result was that Breclav and LS moved ahead, Breclav leading by one boat length and LS on lane 6 by an undefined distance in front (I couldn’t see that in my peripheral vision and as we were starting to fall apart I wanted to focus on our own rowing rather than on the position of the leader). The situation behind us was interesting as well, with the “Double A” struggling in the back of the field and being passed by the launch, and “Double B” and LS  on lane 4 rowing close to each other, 3 lengths behind us.

I said we were starting to fall apart but that is slightly exaggerated. We were starting to become tired, but we were still nicely in sync and able to push hard on our legs. It’s just that the legs started to become really painful. Also, our steering became a little worse. We swayed into lane one and then back.

With 500m to go I ordered a desparate push to try and catch Breclav, but the reality was that they were watching us and could react. So after a lot of pain the end result is:

1 – LS Brno in lane 6

2 – Breclav in lane 5

3 – Jiri and I in lane 2

4 – “Double B” in lane 3

5  – LS Brno in lane 4

6 – “Double A”

Post Race Evaluations

We were already evaluating while we were waiting for “Double A” to finish. We were very happy with our achievement, even though we were completely wasted. We had been able to find a compact and synchronous stroke without much practice and used it to go fast. I don’t have the official results yet, but I estimate our time to be around 7:10 based on the splits. “Double B” had done a really good job and shown that there is no issue whatsoever with their boat speed, despite sporadic training. “Double A” had completely folded in the moment of truth.


The official results are in:

2x m 10:38
LS BRNO KOLÁŘ Jan, HAVLÍČEK štěpán 1 07:00.61
ČVK BRNO NAHODIL Tomáš, HUBÍK Ondřej 4 07:15.20
LS BRNO HRUBÝ Jakub,LUKOIANOV Petr 5 07:16.70
ČVK BRNO MIKULEC Luděk, GÖPFERT Eduard 6 07:18.57

We turned our double and rowed back to the club. Slowly, very slowly, because our legs were hurting like hell.

Arriving at the club, the crowd congratulated us. The head coach told us he had expected us to beat the two other doubles from our club and being able to give the young guys a hard time.

“Double B” arrived at the dock and they were very happy as well, even though they claimed that they could have gone even faster if they had been rowing better together.

“Double A” arrived at the dock and cleared up their boat without commenting. When I spoke to one of them later, he commented that they were experimenting with getting more boat speed at a lower stroke rate and that he had been rowing the race at 70%. I call it an excuse.

What’s more significant is that “Double A” also announced that they will be rowing the Masters Nationals in a quad with a double from another club, because they want to win the Masters C category. When that news reached “Double B”, they quickly made a deal with me and one other rower to row the quad together at the Nationals, and perhaps even in Hazewinkel.

So the racing did produce a result and a decision.

Here are the stats and the colorful picture:

|Start|Stop_|Dist_|Time_|Pace__|avg HR|max HR|DPS|Remarks
|00000|03472|03472|25:17|03:38.5| 141 | 178 |02.3|warming up
|03472|03969|00496|01:41|01:41.7| 172 | 184 |04.7|2km 1st 500
|03969|04466|00497|01:47|01:47.6| 183 | 184 |04.4|2km 2nd 500
|04466|04970|00505|01:53|01:51.9| 182 | 183 |04.2|2km 3rd 500
|04970|05439|00469|01:45|01:52.0| 183 | 183 |04.1|2km 4th 500
|05439|06690|01251|09:30|03:47.9| 142 | 180 |02.4|cooling down


The other Sunday races will be described in a separate post.

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