Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Second World Cup - Lucerne

The 2nd World Cup of the season saw a change from the eight into a pair with Cameron Nichol.  This had been the original plan for the 1st World Cup, and with on and off opportunities to get out in the boat, we were finally given the nod a week before the event in Lucerne.

Over the week build-up we concentrated on positive actions that would bring us speed.  It's often easy to get caught up with what isn't right and address those technical points until they are fixed.  But with a short amount of time, the real priority was working out what we could do pro-actively to put in a solid performance.  With a few timed pieces under our belt, we had a few ideas on what did and didn't work.

Our heat went reasonably well, we drew the 3 x World Champions from New Zealand and Olympic Silver medalists from Canada.  Three crews went through and we were able to pick up the 3rd position by picking crews off as we went down the course.

The semi was an opportunity to place a marker relative to the lead GB pair and gain a place in the A-final.  We knew it would be a tough challenge and we looked to build off what we had done in our first race.  But almost immediately we were dropped by the whole field, leaving a lot of work to do.  Our start had been a bit ineffective and the other 5 crews just stepped away from us.  The row on the whole wasn't bad, but due to being on the back foot so early on, meant we didn't quite find a good enough rhythm and came in 5th (needing a top three position to progress into the A-final).

Sunday offered a chance to show that Saturday had been a mistake and not a true reflection of our speed.  We talked more about the pro-active lessons we had learnt over the previous week and looked to be more bullish in our execution.  Things went much better, leading from stroke one and coming over the line with an overall ranking of 7th at the Regatta.  We placed above crews selected and qualified for the Olympics and were the fastest "No. 2" boat from any nation.

As usual, we were back training on Monday morning.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

It's Nathaniel not Nathan

Current Serbian top ten.

Last weekend was the first World Cup race of the season.  Due to an injury I was asked to step into the Eight a few days before the race.  I slotted in well and [hope] I helped the Eight continue to step on and get positive experiences under their belt.

Choices, choices.

You can watch the race on the BBC here or, for international readers, on the World Rowing website here.  On the BBC commentary I am re-christened "Nathan" - it's not the first time this has happened on commentary, hopefully someone gets themselves to specsavers in time for the next race.

Those who have regularly watch our Eights races, we have tended to be more of a Kelly Holmes circa 2004 crew (slow to begin with then fast into the line).  As you will see in the footage above, we "got up in their grill" early doors and looked to put ourselves in a different position, earlier in the race.  Mixed result, but the boat will use the experience to shape their plans as the season progresses.

Serbia was an interesting country.  The people were friendly and I was pleased to be able to meet up with my Serbian friend Fil.  The weather was pretty good, 30+ degrees with a slight tail wind on the course.  Their national elections were held on the Sunday while we were there, it meant that every billboard was dominated with a political poster - gave it more of a Soviet era sort of vibe.  We didn't have a chance to see much of the City, but what we did see was not quite what I expected.  I've visited quite a few Eastern European countries and seen the full spectrum of change from "Soviet poverty" to "Western wealth".  I had expected Belgrade to have some Austro-Hungarian type architecture, some 50's/60's rubbish and the occasional new modern buildings.  If I'm honest, nearly all of what I saw was repaired 50's/60's rubbish.  On the plus side they did have quite an impressive spaghetti junction/bridge thing going on and the course was lined with some quite nice looking bars, all with sun booths and lounges.

There was a fair amount of sport going on in the City that weekend.  Their was the Serbian Tennis Open, World Cup Rowing and the Partisan vs Red Star Belgrade derby (football).  Had we not been racing, I would have loved to go to the football, sadly we had to make do with a smaller game [Video - for some reason uploaded upside down!]

Fred and Ron Weasley at the airport.

Training started straight away Monday morning and it's been quite a big week.  Enjoying a day off today, I resisted the urge to go out an buy a small white dancing dog.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

First World Cup race of the season

The first of three World Cup races this season is this weekend.

Initially I wasn't due to race (due to not knowing if I would be quite
ready yet off the back of illness) but was then selected into what is
effectively the spare pair. A few days later this changed again and I am
now racing in the men's eight (the Olympic class boat that I won a
silver medal in at the World Champs last summer). This is due to an
injury to one of the guys within the boat.

The racing is being held in Belgrade, Serbia and started Friday. Winning on Friday meant we made it straight to the final from the heat.

Finals will be Sunday (tomorrow) morning and start at 9:30 and
we will be in the last final of the day at 12:30pm. The BBC will be
showing the finals live on the red button or on BBC 5 live radio. All
racing (heats, semis, final) can be watched live at www.worldrowing.com.
Alternatively there is a highlights programme on Monday lunchtime BBC2 11:30-12:30pm.