Jul 18 2016
Czech Open Masters Day 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Jul 18 2016
Czech Open Masters Day 2
Masters C 2x
So I ended the Saturday blog by saying that Kazi and I took the double for a quick row and we were flying. Rowing Nirvana. The right stroke. The right rhythm. Microsecond timing precision.
It was noticed. And we were proclaimed the favourites for this Masters C 2x race, by all our friends. Talk about putting on the pressure.
I wasn’t so sure. We were up against an unknown Polish boat. I saw them row the mixed quad on Saturday and was impressed. They rowed effortlessly, and won by a very big margin. One of the guys was just a second slower than me in the single. Also, I had very strong suspicions that this is the Polish mixed quad that beat us in Hazewinkel. Checking this now and confirmed. It’s the same guys. See here. So the men from that mixed quad would be rowing against us.
The only problem was that they didn’t show up at the start. The umpires called them. We waited 5 minutes for them. Then the umpires decided that it was too late and we were started off, only three boats.
Our rowing was far from the Nirvana experience of the previous evening. We were in front, of course, but struggling to keep Olomouc (Polasek/Brazda) behind us. They kept doing pushes to come next to us. In vain. A 10 stroke push at the 500m got some light between the boats and we rowed the final 500m in relative comfort.
Won. A gold medal! And looking at the results, our time was not half bad. Wait, what are those Polish guys Szczepaniak and Bednarek doing among the B rowers (race 1403)? We asked them after the race. The explanation was simple. They hadn’t attended the representatives meeting and were unaware that our race was moved to an hour earlier. They found out 10 minutes before the scheduled start and came late. They went to the race organization to ask and were allowed to row in the B race. They won with a big margin in a time that is comparable to ours.
Talking about pressure, the pressure on us for the double was nothing compared with the pressure we felt for the Mix 2x. Romana and I were the defending champions. Most of the doubles competing in this race are couples, which means that this is a race that is discussed long after the event.
Although we were the defending champions, we were not the favorites. Petr Mitas with his doubles partner Jitka Masatova were. He’s the muscular guy who beat me by 9 seconds in the single. She is a fitness trainer from Prague. Other strong participants were the Cernak’s from Ostrava (husband and wife) and Pardubice/Olomouc (which will soon be Olomouc proper, because Karel will move and he will live together with his beloved Vendula in Olomouc). Romana’s double partner Slavka with her younger doubles partner (but only that, not a couple) were strong outsiders, and on a good day even Neratovice could go fast (not sure about any relationship between Mr Tockstein and Mrs Chovanakova).
We were quick out of the start and executed our race strategy of a very strong opening 15 strokes.That brought us in second position. The good news was that we were not far behind Mitas/Masatova. The bad news was that Karel and Vendula were on our heels.
Still we rated down a bit and tried to save some energy for what we expected would be a very tough second half of the race. With 500m to go I didn’t like how close Karel and Vendula came so I called for a 15 stroke push. This push had an interesting result. Not only did we row away from Karel/Vendula as if they were standing still (and we probably broke them at that point), also did this push bring us in the leading position, a few cm in front of Mitas/Masatova. We didn’t know that at that time, but spectators told us.
Mitas and Masatova stepped on the gas and soon they were in front of us. I didn’t dare to look too often. We were rowing in lane 2, with Mitas and Masatova over in lane 6. Passing the club house I took up the stroke rate a little bit and with 200m to go I really started to push. Unfortunately, also exhaustion started to play a role …
We finished second. A bit more than a boat length behind the winners. But Petr told me later that we scared the hell out of them and he had rowed the second 500m full out to stay ahead of us.
I am also happy that we had a faster time than any of the rowers in the second C race, with all the international participants.
Masters B eight
After the mixed 2x, I spent about 30 minutes lying in our event shelter tent, and then it was time to launch the eight. You can imagine I was pretty tired by now, but this was our revenge race against Blesk of Prague. See this blog post.
In Radek, my “other double partner”, we had a newbie cox. We told him to just keep talking to us. Count. Give information about the other crews. We had a detailed race plan which involved a push around the “water slide” (before the 500m mark) and a “strong last minute”.
We also had the determination to not let Blesk pass us.
Eight races are very emotional events. Fourty eight people lined up at the start. Lots of adrenaline. Big boats that take a while to get up to speed, so the start seems to happen in slow motion. High stroke rates. And, with masters rowing, lots of water splashing about.
Anyway, we were out of the start well and the first part of our plan worked. At 700m to go, we were half a length in front of Blesk. The bad news was that there was another boat in front of us. And more bad news. The half length lead was shrinking.
We did our push which we executed very well.
I had no tired feeling. All of us were just rowing in a trance.
We managed to increase the lead slightly.
Then it was just a struggle to stay ahead of them. We managed and I got another silver medal.
Overall, this was a super weekend. Four silver medals and one gold, out of five races.
My legs are very very tired today.
By sanderroosendaal • Uncategorized • 0 • Tags: Czech Masters, double, eight, OTW, race, rowing