Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Silveretta 2011

If you've been following me on Twitter (@nrod2012) you will have seen the pictures above already.  This is Lake Silveretta, the location for GB Rowing's [heavyweight men] summer altitude camp.  The weather can change very quickly and so it can be green one moment and then a blanket of snow a blink later.

This camp is heavy work and used to prepare us for the World Championships.  There is a distinct self-harm sort of feel to the camp, but at least with this you know it will actually help.

My brother Paddy has just gone off to Peru to find himself; probably will half-way through being eaten alive and having the runs for the third time.  He will be back in a month so really looking forward to hearing his stories; I'd love to swan round South America for a bit.

My brother Ben has been selected for the British Universities rowing team that will race at EUSA (European Student Champs).  Really pleased for him as his season has been marred with complications.  The competition is in Russia, again somewhere I'm really keen to go.  I was in Belarus last year and loved the Soviet vibe, I imagine Red Square takes it to a whole new level.  Ben will also be racing with UL in China, I think he leaves in the next week or so.  I've been on a similar trip with UL and loved every minute - well nearly.  China takes tat to a whole new level, hopefully Ben can fetch me something particularly ridiulous.

My sister's Charlotte and Emily are chilling in Old Cassop, living the no brother dream.  If anyone is reading in Durham and they are interested in a bit of personal training/advice then Charlotte is a Sports Science Graduate from Loughborough (with Hons) and looking to pick up a bit of work before she goes travelling next year.  If you're looking for a chimney sweep then Emily is tall and skinny and so should do the job pretty well.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

GB Rowing Team Annoucement - World Championships 2011

Today is the annoucement for the team that will compete at the 2011 World Champs.  The Champs also double up as Olympic qualification (if your boat fails to qualify for the Olympics it is possible to qualify in the early summer of 2012).  I have been selected as part of the Men's Eight; the crew remains unchanged (see the Team Announcement post from May).  We have had a pretty reasonable season so far and I'm really looking forward to cracking down to some good training over the next two months in the lead into the Championships.  Racing for the medals will be tight and exciting, I have every confidence we will be right in the middle of it "giving it some cheese".  On Friday I am off to Silveretta [Austria] on altitude camp, I'm really looking forward to it.  It's no holiday camp - hard work is on the menu every day - good things don't come easy.

Monday, 18 July 2011

New Single - with help from John Elliott & the County Durham CF

All wrapped up.

I recently took delivery of a brand new single scull; an Empacher V12 [reverse wing, carbon trim].  For the non-rowing geek, this is the Audi R8 of the rowing world.  Many of the top scullers in the world use an Empacher single including Ondrej Synek (current World Champion) and Olaf Tufte (reigning Olympic Champion '08 and '04).  The wing rigger is made from an aluminium composite; the main hull is a kevlar and carbon fibre mix.  You can say I was pretty chuffed when it arrived.

Every season we race and trial in our single sculls to gain our place in the national team.  So owning reliable and top spec. equipment is key to consistent training and a good performance.  Next year is the Olympic season and I want to demonstrate good speed in all that I do.

My previous single was also an Empacher, and I used the funds from selling that and some savings to put towards this boat.  Without the support of John Elliott of the Ebac Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation I would never have been able to purchase the boat.  John and the CDCF have supported me several times since I was a junior; their financial support has been pivotal to being able to purchase equipment that I would have never had access to.  Rowing is expensive - this single cost close to £10,000 - yeah, you read it right.  CDCF do great work and the staff there are really friendly, supportive and, thankfully, interested.   You can visit their website by clicking on their name above or by clicking on their logo on the left hand side (probably need to scroll down) or follow them on twitter (@CountyDurhamCF).  I can not thank them and John Elliott enough.

You can leave suggestions for boat names below!*
Tomorrow is the annoucement of the GB Rowing Team for the 2011 World Championships; pop back tomorrow for an update.  You can also follow day to day on twitter (@nrod2012).

*T's and C's apply - one entry per person, no entries from DH6 4QB [Emily exempt].

Ondrej Synek using the Empacher V12

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Trip to the House's of Parliament

Big Red's BIG chin ruining my shot of Big Ben

Today was the Parliamentary Boat Race; the event was supported by Siemens - who sponsor the GB Rowing Team.  A few of us were asked to go along and represent the team (Marcus, Rich, Rob, Hester and myself).  It was the first time I had been into Parliament.  Inside was different to what I expected, to be honest it wasn't as good as I imagined - some bits were very good, others not.  Just past the main lobby there is a small holding area where you can head off to function rooms etc; there is seating by a fire place, well I call it a fire place but it was a plastic facade with a 60 watt bulb behind it - pretty tacky.  We were then led out to the Pavilion (function rooms and bar along by the riverside, by accident I went in the House of Lords area.  The first thing I saw was a fat security guard smoking, learning at a heavy angle against the side of the gazebo.  None of the Lords seemed to stick to smoking or non-smoking areas, and most seemed to be smoking - I found this pretty shocking as any pub or restaurant in the country would have their licence revoked if they operated like that.  Thankfully the event I attended was well run and there were plenty of interesting people to talk to.  Things sorts of events can be a little sterile but everyone seemed pretty open and they was definitely a lot of schmoozing going on.

Siemens are great supporters of the GB Rowing Team and have now had a long standing relationship with the team, this is led with enthusiasm from the CEO Andreas.  With the support of Siemens GB Rowing is able to run programmes and offer support at levels that our [generous] Lottery Funding would not be able to afford on it's own.

It was great to get the invite today and thanks again to all those at Siemens.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Lucerne World Cup

At the weekend I raced Lucerne [Switzerland] in the final race of the Rowing World Cup Series.  The Series is made up of three European races, generally used to prepare crews for the World Championships later in the year.  This year the GB team only competed at two of the three races due to Ecoli infection concerns in the Hamburg region.

This is the first time I had raced in Lucerne and so enjoyed the change of scene.  Lucerne has a certain "je ne sais quoi" about it.  It is pretty much always been the last race in the World Cup Series and so always has a strong attendance as all nations want to test themselves against the best, before the World Champs.  The course is set in a tight valley along a thin long lake, only just big enough to hold an Olympic size course; as a result the weather can change very quickly with dramatic effect.  Above is a picture of us in our 8 the day before racing, below is a youtube clip of the very same storm - watch out for the size of the hail stones! 

Racing started on the Friday; we needed to win the race to go straight to the final, any other position and we would have to race the repercharge the next day.  The photo on the left below is the photo finish from the heat.  We lost out to the Dutch National 8 by 0.01 seconds - the race took 5mins 30 and meant we lost by a margin of less than an inch over 2000km [or 78,740 inches].  Unbelievably tight and a kick in the teeth as we had beaten the Dutch in every race in Munich some weeks earlier.

This meant we had to race in the repercharge on Saturday to secure our place in the A-Final.  Our main opposition were the French and Polish.  We had beaten both crews in Munich (where the Poles came third, ahead of the Dutch).  A strong sense of deja vu swept over us and again found ourselves in a tight battle on the line.  This time losing out to the Poles by 0.23 seconds, but well clear of the French and Ukrainians.

This wasn't an easy or nice situation to be in, we had come to Lucerne believing we were at least ranking second in the World and were ready to take the challenge to the Germans; now we had been beaten by Dutch, Polish and had seen the Americans run the Germans closer than we have so far this season - and then see that American crew be beaten by a re-invigorated Canadian 8.  It meant racing was going to be unbelievably tight and we could end up being 6th, within several hundredths of a second of several other crews.  The final would require us to step up big time.  Below is the photo finish, this time missing out to the Dutch by 0.04 secs, coming in 3rd ahead of the USA.  You can watch the race here on the BBC (including Greg's video diary) or here on the World Rowing website (click on the Men's 8 in the bottom right to view our race)

It has been a busy few weeks and I'm looking forward to digging back into training.  You can subscribe to the blog post via email on the left hand side; also feel free to leave comments or ask questions.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Henley Royal Regatta - Sun

                        View from finish in the Final

Leading the Australians on Saturday

View close to the finish against the Germans.     

On Sunday I raced the German National Eight in the final of the Grand at Henley.  The race followed a similar pattern to our previous encounter with ze Germans - they lead out, we come back a bit, they hold on and beat us.  They won by a length and set a new course record.  I won't give a comprehensive breakdown of our race, trade secrets and all, but I can say it was a disappointing result and a missed opportunity.

There was a little controversy over the steering line the German cox took, mainly that he cut right across (very early) and washed us down so that our strokeside puddles were running straight into the puddles from their bowside.  For those not into their rowing lingo - we were forced to take strokes in their turbulance for most of the way down the course.  In coastal rowing that's part of the game and at Henley it's not allowed but it's tolerated to an extent (it is strictly forbidden everywhere else we race).  It was unfortunate as it meant we struggled to get back level, but was not the reason we lost.  Henley is a unique and special event and that is just one of it's quirks.  It's something we were in part expecting as a possibility and not a suprising move from a German cox who has called the GB Rowing Team "dirty dogs" on German National TV.

Our focus continues to be on ourselves, our boat and our progression in speed.  On Wednesday we will fly out for the last of the last race in the World Cup series [Lucerne, Switzerland], where we will meet 11 eights from around the World.  Germany and others will be there, we'll be ready to go again.

Report from the Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Henley Royal Regatta - Sat

Today we raced the Australian national eight at Henley Royal and won by a margin of one length.  There was an amazing atmosphere, a great turnout and an unbelievable amount of noise the whole way down the course.  We came close (1 second) to breaking the course record that has stood since 1989 - I was born April 1988!

Tomorrow [3:30pm] we will race the two time World Champions from Germany.  It will be a great race.  If you can't make it to Henley to watch, you can get the result on twitter (@HenleyRegatta), on the Henley Royal Regatta website or you can listen to live commentary online at Regatta Radio.

Tomorrow is my mum's birthday, it's rude to ask a lady her age - but you can work it out, she was born in 1965.  Happy Birthday Mum.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Henley Royal Regatta

Stepping into the boat

This week is Henley; every major rowing club in the world has made the trip to this regatta, some every year.  It's a special event with old traditions, a unique atmosphere and quality racing.

Tomorrow will be my first race of the regatta.  I will be racing in the GB Men's Eight for the Grand Challenge Cup.

Wikipedia Entry -
The Grand Challenge Cup is a rowing competition for men's eights. It is the oldest and most prestigious event at the annual Henley Royal Regatta on the River Thames at Henley-on-Thames in England. It is open to male crews from all eligible rowing clubs.

Our race will be about 3pm and will be against the Australian National Eight.  This will be a big race.  There are no second chances, there are no runners-up; you either win or lose, continue racing or be sent home.  This makes it so much more personal.

In the words of PJ and Duncan - "Let's get ready to rhumble!"