May 23 2017
The Saturday evening party was great. We chatted with everybody, especially the Cernak couple, who had high hopes to win the mixed double against us, after their excellent results in New Zealand. Most of the people at the party had seen the Masters 1x race, and most frequent comments were that I was rowing technically cleaner, longer strokes, but Cernak was doing 36spm short sliding and manoeuvring his single in front of mine so I had no chance to pass. That’s nice to hear, but I would probably have done the latter as well if I were in the leading position. These small regattas are highly unregular, and everybody explores the boundary between what the referees allow and where they start issuing warnings.
Another day of arriving early on the regatta venue, because Romana’s girls would have early races in the doubles.
My most important race was at 13:05, the Masters Mix 2x. But before that, I was racing the Men’s (open) double at 11AM, together with Antonin, a Masters rower from Breclav. This regatta had no Masters 2x on the program, so we inserted ourselves into the open race, racing against people half our age (and half our rowing experience, of course).
Around 10am, Tonda and I started our warming up. We passed the Ostrava trailer and chatted a bit with Mr Cernak and the other Masters rowers from that club. They all were going to watch our doubles race, they said. I joked that Tonda had received secret instructions to wear me out in that race, so I wouldn’t be able to peak at the mixed double. Looking at the reaction, I might have hit the mark there. I continued to joke that I was merely going to warm up the engines.
On the 4 lane course, our 2x race was a three boat race. Again, we were in lane 1, with a stacked start because of the turn, so we were behind the other two boats. The referee launch arrived just before the race time, so after we started we rowed through its wake.
Tonda and I had agreed to row technically sound, and to my surprise that brought us in 2nd position at the 500m point. Unfortunately, the third crew managed to accelerate strongly in the final 500m, and they steamed past us in the final straight stretch, beating us by a length. In the other heat, we would have ended 3rd out of four boats. Not bad. Here’s a picture of us after the race (I am the skinny guy on the right).
Mixed Double Race
I used the two hours after the Men’s double to eat and drink a bit, and I did a long cooling down run. At this regatta, you have to turn the boat immediately after the finish, so there is zero cooling down, so going for a 30 minute run seemed a sensible thing to do.
After that, Romana and I launched from the one and only launching dock (which effectively means there is 1 minute and 15 seconds per crew to put the boat in the water, put the sculls in the oarlocks, remove shoes, and push off) and we were on the water in time to do a few 10 stroke sequences and practice starts.
Lane 1 – CVK Brno 1 (that was us)
Lane 2 – Ostrava (the Cernak couple)
Lane 3 – Bohemians/Slavie Mr Burda + Mrs Masatova
Lane 4 – CVK Brno 2 Mr Krocil and Mrs Slezakova
Romana and I were super nervous for this race, but by the looks of it the Cernak couple was in the same state. We all arrived at the start line on time, but had to wait for the launch to arrive. When we were aligned and the starter was raising the flag (with us in lane 1, stacked behind all the other boats), Romana commented that we were in the launch wake. Indeed, only our double was bobbing around in the wake reflected of the bank. I had a split second to decide whether I would raise my hand and postpone the start or not, and I decided to take the risk and not do it. Because of that, our start was slightly worse than our practice starts (but then, those had been excellent).
The rest of our race opening was executed flawlessly. Coming out of the start at 45spm, I continued to push through the 15 hard strokes we had agreed, gradually lowering the stroke rate to 35.
I don’t have other data than stroke rate and GPS pace, but I think the graph above tells the story of the race clear enough. We settled for a stroke rate of 34.5 – 35 for the middle part of the race. The first 200m had brought us in front of the Cernak’s in lane 2 (who had started in front of us), and I am convinced that this “shock and awe” opening did its job perfectly. I focused on rowing a nice rhythm, and Romana on bow took care of the steering (although I did anticipate, rowing this course on memory). Romana steered a very sharp course. To our left was lane 0 with traffic coming in the opposite direction of kids’ double rowing to the start, sometimes passing each other and thus entering lane 1. Pushing steadily, we passed Burda/Masatova with 600m to go and got into the lead of the race. The referee was calling steering instructions to “Brno”, leaving it to the two Brno crews to guess which of them was the target. At one point it was clear though: “Brno turn – there are doubles in lane 0”. We corrected slightly and I was thinking if I wanted to win so badly that I would risk a collision. The answer was a clear no.
Luckily, our steering corrections helped avoid collisions. It did slow us down a bit though and Burda+Masatova were catching up again. I upped the stroke rate.
At that point we were making the final turn and all the kids from CVK Brno were cheering for us. You can see how that helped from the big jump in pace between “800” and “1000” in the graph above. Still, Mr Burda and Mrs Masatova were not too far behind us, and they were still dangerous in theory. They started a final, desperate push, and I responded by a final stroke rate increase, to 36spm.
The finish line and the bell. We were first. I told Romana that we had rowed an average of 35spm (the graph says 36) and she was surprised. It was true that we had found this magical rhythm which allows you to row calm and take rest on the recovery even when you’re doing 35spm. Sometimes things work out.
I was definitely very exhausted after this race. I rowed it without a power meter, but I am sure I managed more than the 321 W of Saturday.
After this race, I got kisses from Mrs Cernakova and Mr Cernak didn’t speak to me for 30 minutes. Both events were sweet. 🙂
Mix Masters 8+
In the final event of the day, I raced in an ad hoc mixed Masters eight against the local rowing club. We were given their older, heavier boat, and we had a cox who coxed for the first time. Here is the youtube video of us losing (I row in the 6 seat, counting from bow):
Two guys from our club raced at Junior European Championships in Krefeld, Germany. Here are pictures.
Ondrej, in the single, rowed to a great 10th place, wearing our club shirt under his Czech national uni. He was joined to the team as a reserve rower, so this was a great result. Vasek, in the eight, didn’t make it to the finals and they ended in 7th place. The Czech Junior girls 8+ won a Silver medal behind Romania. Congratulations!