March 08, 2004

Rowing in Racing Boats isn't so easy

So I spent all day yesterday coaching Manchester Univerity's 1st VIII with their 2nd VIII and a novice VIII and IV in attendance. The morale in the 1st eight has been low following lack lustre performances at Trent and Runcorn Heads. The crew has only recently been selected and has not found it's form yet. There is huge potential in the crew but they are rowing at a level where psychology plays a big part. They needed a boost in their confidence. They needed proof that they are as good as I keep saying they are. So I devoted the whole day to them. Three sessions. The last one I coxed myself. Eventually I transformed their rowing and consequently their confidence. Tails were up afterwards and they felt worthy at last of their title of first eight.

We managed to change the rhythm in the boat so there was more time around the turn but most importantly we managed to get everybody to let go of the boat at the extraction, to release it and disconnect themselves from it and to remove the tension in their bodies so that the boat could move freely under them. They allowed it to do what it wanted to do during the recovery. To run over the waves and through the water freely.

This was rating 16 initially with the feet out. But then at 18 with the feet in. Then at 20 and 22. And eventually we touched 32 with no effort and no aerobic challenge.

I think that this crew will be able to race at 38 over 2000m come the summer and be able to challenge crews that have been beating us recently.

Meanwhile the 2nd VIII had a good middle session raising the rate as high as 34 towards the end of their head race distance piece. They have been going well and can also go better but I simply do not get the time to coach everybody to the required standard. I was exhausted by the end of the day and went to sleep at about 8.30pm. I think the crews would have slept well too. They all looked pretty tired. Particularly big Tom White, who admitted to being dehydrated by the end of the day and Nick Aldrige who had driven back from London with boats and not eaten properly the evening before. This was following the women's HORR in which the Manchester girls had three eights. They all performed respectably. Especially the 1st VIII who were only 24 seconds behind Grosvenor.

Posted by Stephen Walker at March 8, 2004 11:22 AM