Virginia Sprints: Adopt a buoy day!

Women Master 2x - came in second after sprinting through

Women Master 2x - came in second after sprinting through

Six rowers and an old man went to the Virginia Sprints in Richmond yesterday.

With 17 participating clubs it was a bigger event than High Point. We used it as preparation for the upcoming “big” sprint events SE Regionals and Diamond States.

Our theme for 2019 - courtesy of Jürgen Gröbler - is “try new things and get ready for 2020”. We therefore raced untested lineups, some combinations sitting in the same boat the first time on the way to the start.

The second goal is to overcome the “CHaOS Fade” – last year’s race profiles showed a fast first 300, followed by a continuous fade and an inability to effectively sprint to the line. This year we are aiming for negative splits, hoping to end up with an even speed through all 4 quarters. Data still needs to be analyzed in detail, but from the coach’s chair it looked that we made substantial progress toward this goal.

Race profiles are getting more consistent (M4-)

Race profiles are getting more consistent (M4-)

Results beat expectations, too – by far (link to final results)

The “why not” boat was the 4 – with Dan in bow, Richard S stroking and Brian and Jason in the engine room. They came in second on the water, 3rd (=last) after handicap, being beat by 1.2 seconds. They hugged a buoy, thus starting the trend for the day. All of them are alpha males. Adrenaline and power were stronger in the sprint than the technical ability to have a strong finish on every stroke. After watching the video, even Richard S agrees that we have to work on that.

The next race was the mixed 4x with Blair in stroke, Jason, Richard S, and Tracy steering. With rain in the forecast, Blair took out her ears, ignored the commands and stroked a perfect race. Yes, there was another buoy in the way, so all four, without hearing a command, just did a second start and motored through the field, winning by more than 30 seconds. Even after the handicap (Blair is way tooooooo young), the CHaOS boat won handily.

Jason and Richard S then hot-seated into the men’s masters 4x, with Dan in bow, Richard stroking and the big boys in the engine room. Yes, you guessed it right, there was another buoy, this time to be hit head on at 300 or so meters. Followed by a lesson in effective sprinting from the other team. CHaOS was vying for the lead with about 200 meters to go. Then the other team took a beat out of the stroke rate and started to motor away. CHaOS came in second on the water (handicapped result follow link above) and exhausted. They learned 2 lessons: Dan wants to steer with a mirror from now on, and “keep cool” is the art of sprinting.

After tea (he is British after all) Richard S joined Occoquan Boat Club for the Masters Mens 8+. It was good to see the CHaOS orange among the sea of red. They came in 3rd in a very fast field. No, no buoy, but a boat stopping crab from the strongest rower in the boat. They recovered well but ran out of water at the end.

Tracy chose to row the Buffalo for the Women’s Masters 2x. She thought the steering would prevent her from hitting another buoy (it did not). However, the boat was too big for the two of them. Their 5 stroke start had 10 alternating strokes - each rower only catching with one oar at the time (courtesy of the police boat swinging by). They recovered fast, and dancing like a ping pong ball in the ocean, they kept up with the leaders to come in second (raw time, no adjusted times, see link above). Blair obviously only hears what she wants to hear – she never settled and thus kept up with the leaders. Even though they could not make up what they lost at the start, they did not lose another inch thereafter. Well raced!

Last race of the day was the Men’s Open 2x with Brian in stroke (yes the “I can only sweep” Brian) and Dan in bow. They rowed a perfect race – smooth controlled start, steady race profile, relaxed shoulders. They were just unlucky to be up against the Virginia state champions who won by open water, always controlling the race. CHaOS came in second with two very happy rowers. Dan made clear that from now on, the Buffalo is “their” boat.

The old man’s summary of the day:

  • Race plans and controlled race profiles start to show results. Overall we start to be stronger towards the finish line. Still lots of work to be done to balance adrenaline and technique.

  • The youngsters are coming. Blair and Brian stroked almost perfect profiles. Thank you very much!

I think we know what we have to do to prepare for the next races: SE Regionals, Diamond States and Beak of the Chick: train in the line-ups we plan to race (Dan, Brian, Blair please make it happen), refine the finishes, and sprint effectively.

Big THANKS to:

  • Richard S for organizing everything – we know it was not easy

  • Brian for impressing everybody (and I mean everybody) which his trailer backing skills around two turns in a tight spot and driving the trailer to Richmond

  • Tracy for preventing the moods from deteriorating with entertainment and food and (almost) perfect steering – it was adopt a buoy day after all

  • Dan (and Susan) for forcing us to stop at the Legendary Brewery and solving the conundrum of gender transition sports (and global warming vs. 85 degree pools on the way there)

  • Jason, Tracy, Felix for sanding and painting the oars (second coat still needed - volunteers?)

  • Everybody for getting up that early and unloading the trailer in pouring rain in the middle of the night (with frogs and toads as a noisy audience). I hope we passed this morning’s quality check.

Hope to see you at the races soon!