Rowing in the Green Continent
From April 18 to May 5, 2012, Chairman of the Board of English Rowing Club A. Konovalov was on a business trip in order to study the experience of organization of rowing training in the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. The main subject of study was the system of private rowing clubs and university rowing.
From April 18 to April 22, familiarization with activities of the private rowing club Mosman took place in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Being one of the oldest in the country and the only one in the northern part of the city, the club is located on the waters of the ocean bay protected from the open water, waves and strong winds. Gradually tapering to a width of 100-150 m and surrounded by scenic hills, the bay is a convenient distance for training where movement of sport vessels is possible at a distance of 20 km in one direction including a perfectly straight section of 2 km long and a 5 km long segment with one turn for competitions and control training. Movement of sport vessels partly hampered only in a small part of the water area immediately adjacent to the club because of the competition with motor boats and yachts.
The club infrastructure includes two separate buildings with boathouses on the ground floor. On the first floor of one building, there is a spacious fitness room equipped with 12 pieces of rowing ergometers, exercise bikes and strength training equipment line required for field-specific preparation, locker rooms and showers. On the first floor of the second building, there are a club office, saloon, locker rooms and showers. One of the boathouses is exclusively used by school teams collaborating with the club, the second by the actual members of the club.
The boat fleet includes the entire line of rowing vessels (total of up to 120 pieces) mostly produced in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. Almost all the boats are in perfect or good condition. Depending on the belonging and purpose of use, they are divided into four categories and each marked with a color sticker attached to the boat: 1) private boats stored in the club - not used by anyone except the owners; 2) boats assigned to elite level athletes - can be used only by direct permission of the authorized person; 3) limited use club boats - can be used only by special permission ; 4) general use club boats - used by appointment (reservation).
The boat booking system is the main regulator of using much of the club's infrastructure. A boat can be provided for a club member only by appointment or other arrangement with the club; total time of use of the boats is, if necessary, regulated by the club management. The record with information on the time and route of the actual use of the boat in the journal located in the boathouse by an individual using the boat, as well as careful washing of boats and oars after use (boathouses are equipped with hoses with water sprays for these purposes) are mandatory. Besides sliding shelves on racks, boats (mostly singles) are also stored on mobile racks that can be rolled out of the boathouse whenever needed. Storage of small boats and brackets to them separately from each other with the assembly and disassembly of the boat, respectively, before and after training is quite common. A permanent employee of the club looks after the storage and condition of the boats, boathouses and adjacent territory. Provision of boats for use, including defining of compositions for a particular training, is coordinated by the president or the captain of the club, one of whom is typically present in the club during the usual hours of training.
Professional activity of the club is focused on several directions defining sources to replenish the club's budget.
1) Preparing (or providing conditions for preparation) of elite-level athletes. Club members with more or less regularly join the ranks of Australia's national teams at various levels. The athletes who achieved the elite level or approaching to it have a professional coach. It should be noted that almost all athletes who reached the elite level are engaged in a centralized training programme of the Australian Institute of Sport, and occasionally use the club infrastructure (for example, in the described period, the members of women's eight from the national team were training at the club);
2) Provision of the club’s infrastructure for training of private school students. The club has agreements with two large private schools and several smaller ones whose students are regularly trained at the club during from September to March;
3) Provision of the club’s infrastructure for corporate events - commercial tours that include rowing lessons by the club coaches given to employees of the companies that have entered into agreements with the club, and the subsequent competition. In particular, during the described period, one of such tours, in which employees of commercial banks received 11 lessons in rowing in eights of mixed male-female composition and were racing at a competition distance, was closing to an end. According to the club's management, this variant of team-building enjoys popularity in Australia;
4) Provision of the club’s infrastructure, in essence, to club members – mostly to amateur rowers of all ages and levels - from beginners to masters. The masters category generally enjoys high popularity among the Australians , which manifests itself in a large number of athletes exercising regularly, a large number of well-organized competitions, and competitive mindset of the active members. The club forms teams of athletes of all ages regularly participating in competitions. They are trained by a specially designated coach. The fee for membership in the club is about 1000 Australian dollars per year with the possibility to use the club's infrastructure on a daily basis taking into account the restrictions imposed by the boat booking system. Costs of participating in off-site events are covered by club members additionally;
5) Provision of services on storage of boats and other equipment belonging to club members.
The main load on the club’s infrastructure falls on the morning hours (5.00-8.00am) when the vast majority of rowing amateurs train. Training continues for 1.5-2 hours and is usually over around 7.00am. During the day, some staff looking after the club are there, but day training, as a rule, is not carried out, and the club is deserted. The traditional coffee after a training session, if takes place at all, is usually served outside the club - in the nearby cafeteria. An impromptu buffet with a thermos for coffee and snacks is equipped near the boathouse on specific occasions - during holidays, club competitions, control training sessions, etc. At the same time the whole club atmosphere is characterized by unity, corporativity, friendliness, and respectful attitude towards each other, extended by the typical ease of Australian character. Many members of the club are successful and wealthy people (traditionally, there are many successful Sydney's lawyers) having fun at the club practicing their favorite hobby.
The club is run by its president dealing with public relations and formally being the supreme decision-making centre and its captain largely submerged in the technical aspects of use of the club's infrastructure. Both positions are formally elected, but, by the open confession of the current management, are not widely popular because of their troublesome nature and taken for a certain period (with due regard to success of activity and readiness to continue) under a tacit agreement of the most reputable and active members of the club. Management functions are carried out with the help of a club manager, technical work is done by 2-3 employees, coaching functions - 2 coaches operating on a permanent basis, and several other members of the management including the president and captain in the hourly mode. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that only o n e specialist is paid for his work in the club the main (and only professional) coach. All other work at the club, including managerial, organizational and technical work, is performed by members of the club on the basis of v o l u n t e e r i n g. The expenses of the club's budget include, in addition to paid services of a professional coach, the running costs, replenishment of the boat fleet and – in rare cases – support of talented athletes.
From April 24 to April 27, familiarization with activities of the Rowing Club Surfers Paradise & Griffith University took place in the Gold Coast line, Queensland, Australia. Being a regular private rowing club located in a resort town, the club, according to its management, for a long time, fought for its survival, measured by the number of current members, until a few years ago when it became a major base for development of rowing in one of the largest universities in Australia - Griffith University. Implementing tuition for a total of about 80,000 students, the university is in the top five of the overall ranking of Australian universities, the second of innovative research universities, and is the largest university positioning itself as a training centre for specialists in the field of sports. Many eminent Australian athletes, including current members of the national teams, study in a special sports department. The University has a target budget of $ 1.5 million Australian dollars to support foreign students and demonstrates pronounced ambition to become a leading university in the field of development of sports programmes.
Given the fact that rowing come to the university’s attention quite recently, the club’s infrastructure does not look outstanding even against fairly democratic arrangement of most British, American and Australian rowing clubs. Waters used by the club is the Nerang River which flows into the ocean but protected from it by a number of bays, so it has the exceptionally quiet and smooth (at least in the morning) water surface. Movement along the river in one direction is possible at a considerable distance (up to 15 km). But given the permissible length of training session, only a section of 6 to 8 km in one direction is used. Traffic along the river in the morning is insignificant, the current is weak, the riverside line is meandering with several sharp turns, with straight sections of no more than 500-700 m. In the direction of the ocean, in the central part of the city, there is a section of the river of up to 200 m wide and up to 700 m long where the traditional sprint regatta of eights with a distance of 500 m takes place.
The clubhouse represents a hangar which houses a boathouse, a small compartment that serves as a training room with several rowing ergometers, locker rooms and showers. The beach is not equipped with pontoons, access water is accessed directly from the beach. The boat fleet (60 vessels) mainly consists of boats made in China, of good quality and in good condition. Use of the boats and equipment is determined by the specifics of the club - there are relatively few active "adult" members, many of whom are involved in organizational and coaching activities. They tend to train in singles on their own or as part of sustainable crews. Most trainees are students attending classes more or less regularly whenever possible. In the usual training hours - 6.00-7.30 (the club officially open from 5.15 to 8.30, in fact, training begin no earlier than 6:00am, on some days, some groups of athletes finish their training at 10.00-10.30), up to 40-50 athletes is gathering at the club. The ratio of training girls in relation to young men is about 2 to 1. Only some athletes train in permanent crews or following individual programmes, most are distributed in crews and given boats and equipment by the head coach of the University right before training. The rules on the usage of boats (prohibition of boat use without permission, washing of boats) are also strict; following the route on the water is provided by the coach who invariably accompanies the group of trainees on a motor boat.
Probably, in accordance with the professional specialization of head coach, and most importantly – due to unstable composition of crews, mainly sculling is practiced with interleaved outings in singles, doubles and fours. Organization of training is at quite a high level with providing prospective training plans on the water and physical preparation of athletes (typical programmes included), individual training, work on rowing technique. Typically, the training starts with technical work, continues with the passage of segments with the rate of 20-26 strokes per minute for 5-20 minutes non-stop by all trainees in the handicap group. At the end of training, there is a consistent race in sparring at a distance of 500m with time control. Such a training programme forms a competitive spirit and the constant pursuit of progress in athletes. Outings on the water in the combined crews of masters and young rowers are practiced regularly. Exercise on overall physical conditioning is conducted on the basis of gyms in campuses. Novices – basically practicing technique and balance – are trained by a special coach. The club advertises its services on training in rowing for everyone, not just students. In addition to two paid coaches staff, there is a manager working by volunteering in the state university club.
Despite the lack of a large selection of gifted athletes or athletes with significant experience in training and performance, the university club is quite successful in student competitions in Australia. Three athletes receive scholarships from the National Rowing Federation.
On April 29, familiarization with activities of the rowing club of the University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) was carried out. The university is the second largest in the country and the importance after the University of Auckland and is in the top hundred of the world ranking. About 160 university students are regularly engaged in rowing, the main part of which finishes regular training after completing a six-week training course and participation in the National Student Championships. About 40 students are training all year round.
The waters used for training is an enclosed shallow part of the ocean bay of up to 800m wide with the possibility of movement for a distance of 50 km in one direction, an section of up to 3 km is used regularly. The feature of the waters is the ability to exercise in calm water only in the morning. The wind swelling sufficiently high waves, excluding training, at least in small boats, starts at 9.00am.
The clubhouse is a two-storey building with a spacious boathouse, a training room equipped with 16 rowing ergometers, a pool for sweep rowing, and a saloon. There is no weightlifting gym at the club as students are able to use the university sports facilities on campus. Boats – mainly produced in New Zealand – are in excellent or good condition in an amount up to 80 pcs. There are many large boats. Unlike Griffith University, this one obviously bets on the preparation of eights.
The use of boats is controlled by the coach, Washing after use is obligatory.
Students train on the water in the morning (5.00-8.00) due to academic schedule as well as the peculiarities of the waters. The second training runs after school, usually onshore (classes on overall physical preparation or on rowing ergometers).
The club focuses mainly on training of student crews, training of non-students (including graduates) is not excluded, but it is not a priority for the club. Like the vast majority of foreign clubs, the club of the University of Otago also exists in austerity mode, although receives a subsidy from the university for operation and maintenance of the existing infrastructure (heating, electricity, and other utility costs). Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the attendance of the club is not free for students, 500 NZ dollars per year with the repayment of any trips to competitions and training camps from their own funds. Exemption from payment occurs only after the transition to the level of elite crews. Their training in New Zealand has even more centralized and closed nature than in Australia, the national team and candidates to join it arr training all year round at the base on Lake Karapiro with little or no communication with the rest of the rowing community of the country. Therefore, the club does not have anything to do with the sport of highest achievements. Similarly, in comparison with conventional private clubs, the university club is not engaged with additional programmes (for beginners, students, business organizations, etc.)
On May 5, familiarization with activities of the Auckland Rowing Club - one of the oldest typical private club in the country – took place in Auckland, New Zealand. The club is located in the southern part of the city in close proximity to the park area, on the waters of a river flowing into the ocean bay. Movement in one direction is possible for a distance of 10 km. From the perspective of training, the reservoir is not perfect - some parts are abound in sandbanks, which make the movement of boats, especially large, unsafe, others are cluttered with parked yachts and barges, the water is very dirty, poor weather conditions in the form wind and waves, according to the club's representatives, are not uncommon. Despite this, the club members are training regularly and with intensity corresponding to their goals and motivation.
The clubhouse is a relatively new and spacious with a large adjacent territory (the club shares it with fans of popular in New Zealand rowing in traditional Polynesian canoe outriggers, these boats are stored in large quantities on the racks located in the street). The ground floor has a boathouse with a boat fleet (mainly produced in New Zealand) in an amount of up to 80 units. Most boats are in good condition, although there are quite old and worn out vessels as well. On the first floor, there is a training room equipped with 12 rowing ergometers and a narrow line of strength training equipment for specialized preparation and a spacious saloon with a buffet.
The organizational structure of the club, the main directions of its activity (cooperation with schools, commercial programmes, the organization of training for the masters category) are almost similar to the situation at the club Mosman, only in a little truncated version given less people engaged and generally more "provincial" nature of New Zealand rowing. The specialization in organization of more or less mass training in rowing and identifying promising athletes with immediate transfer of the latter to the level of centralized professional training is expressed in the activities of private and university clubs here, much more than in other English-speaking countries. In Auckland Rowing Club, there are about 450 athletes constantly engaged in training, about half of them - students of 4 schools collaborating with the club. Coaching functions are performed by about 30 people, a l l - on a voluntary basis (this situation is, as it turned out, common for New Zealand as a whole, professional coaches work exclusively at the level of the centralized training programs).
To sum up the impressions of this trip, it may be noted that: 1) the sports and accompanying infrastructure of the English Rowing Club in St. Petersburg yields to the counterparts in Australia and New Zealand only in terms of the extent and variability of academic boat fleet and exceeding them in terms of the availability of "Vikings", coastal and pleasure boats, as well as in the presence of lodging conditions in the club itself (none of the surveyed clubs in Australia and New Zealand had such capabilities), the size and quality of the equipment in the gym. This means that, after replenishment of the boat fleet, the English Rowing Club will have a near-perfect infrastructure subject only to the compelled use of the available water area near the club only in the early morning (such a limitation is absolutely common and reasonable for the vast majority of foreign clubs); 2) the English Club and Rowing Enthusiasts Association correctly identified priorities for activities in the form of attracting students of college-age to rowing and developing the direction of "rowing as fitness and corporate recreation." Training of the elite crews - the task solved on the basis of the English rowing club - looks redundant in terms of Australian and New Zealand conditions, and a school-age audience is left completely uncovered by the activities of the club at the moment; 3) much of the discovered in the experience of Australian and New Zealand institutes can and should be used in the organization of activities in terms of the club's infrastructure operation. After the period of formation of the club and the expansion of permanent membership, the club's management needs to be improved with the development of forms of self-administration and volunteering.
Winners All Around
A friendly match between the men's eights of ERC (English Rowing Club) and Societe Nautique de Geneve (Geneva Rowing Club) was held at the rowing canal
June 2, Saint-Petersburg
Representatives of one of the most famous yacht and rowing clubs in Switzerland - Societe Nautique de Geneve - were the guests of the England Rowing Club for 4 days. The purpose of the visit was sightseeing of the city on the Neva and socializing with the fellow sportsmen of ERC. The guests stayed in the club hotel and enjoyed its sports infrastructure. The programme highlight was a friendly race of the men's eights, where an honorary prize to mark the 300th anniversary of birth of the Swiss philosopher and public figure Jean-Jacques Rousseau, established jointly by the St. Petersburg and Geneva clubs, was competed for.
Originally it was planned that the prize would be disputed in the Neva water area by the eight of SPSU and the Rousseau University of Geneva, but the Swiss students could not go, therefore the guests put the masters team on the race. The first time assembled ERC team volunteered to oppose the Swiss. It was composed of the Chairman of the Club's Board, Alexander Konovalov, Club's director Pavel Vakulov, president of the City Rowing Federation and a member of the club Victor Evtukhov, club employees Evgeny Andreev and Evgeny Luzyanin, training at the club Denis Markelov, Alexey Fedorov, and Luke Acheson (Ireland). In preparation for the race, the team had had only two practices.
The morning of June 2 dawned windy and rainy, but by six o'clock in the evening, by the beginning of the starts, the weather had improved – the sun was shining, and the water surface of the city's rowing canal was almost perfect. The main race was preceded by several heats attended by St. Petersburg teams in the masters category. The atmosphere at the rowing center "Sterla" was friendly and festive, the latter was provided by the national flags of Russia and the Swiss Confederation hoisted on the flagpoles.
According to the agreement reached long ago, opponents had to sort things out at a distance of 700 meters. Immediately after the start, a fierce struggle ensued between the teams, which lasted until the mid-distance mark where the ERC eight came forward and began to increase its advantage stroke by stroke. At the finish it was expressed in more than two lengths of a boat. So the English Rowing Club put the first victory in an international race in the club's collection after its revival.
Right after the finish, the rivals warmly greeted each other, greetings continued at the presentation of prizes in the canteen of the center "Strela" and during a party in the lounge of the English Club. The clubs have agreed on a return match meeting in Geneva in August (the student teams will meet in this match, and the masters teams will hold a return match), the possible involvement of the ERC athletes in the 160-kilometer marathon around Lake Geneva, annually organized by the Swiss Club in October, and a long-term friendly cooperation.
Lawyers, businessmen, government officials and coaches, the Russians and Swiss, winners and losers – all were the winners in the evening, all were united by rowing sport fraternity. The club would like to thank its archivist Nikolai Kopanev, organizer of the Swiss delegation's visit, the club's managers Maria Korobova and Tatiana Garlova, who ensured a comfortable stay of the guests in the club, the center "Strela" for assistance in organizing the race.
In the Rank of the National Team
The students State University eight (primary lineup), being trained at the base of the English Rowing Club on the program of the Amateur Rowing Association, took third place at the International Grand Moscow Regatta
Moscow, June 8
This result was the best among the junior teams to challenge, in the race under the terms of the Russian Rowing Federation, the right to represent the country at the World Youth Championship in Trakai in July this year. The SPSU athletes were officially selected to participate in the World Cup where they would go immediately upon their return from the Henley Royal Regatta.
The Eight of the English Rowing Club sensationally won the main cup in the Golden Blades sprint race. The University Cup is again at the of St. Petersburg State University
St. Petersburg, June 12
For the second consecutive year, one of the events in the course of celebrating Russia Day were a rowing race at an ultra short distance organized by the Amateur Rowing Association and the English Rowing Club in the historic center of St. Petersburg. A year ago, the scene for hot duels of the best Russian and foreign athletes were the waters of the Fontanka River at Anichkov Bridge. Let's recall that the starts at the 300-meter race brought many surprises then – the famous New Zealanders Mah? Drysdale (who became the fifth time world champion three months later) and Emma Twigg were knocked out of the singles competition at the 1/4 final round and the German national team was beaten by the Russian team in the open class of eights in the final.
The super-sprint – an unusual and highly entertaining race – offered its surprises this time also, a new race – a 200-meter segment of the Kronverksky Strait at the Peter and Paul Fortress, at another historic site of St. Petersburg. This time the lineup of the races was not as representative as a year ago – the world's best athletes are preparing for the Olympics, and there is nothing more to add. Unfortunately, this year the organizers were not lucky with the weather – it was drizzling and raining throughout the day, which was the cause the regatta certainly was missing several thousand spectators. Those who were not afraid of rain did not regret it. There were restaurants and cafes, gift shops, children's playground, an exhibition of vintage cars, live music for public. There was an exposition telling guests about rowing. All those who wished could test their strength on a rowing ergometer. But the spectator's main subject of interest became intense battles on water tracks.
The formula for determining the winners remained the same as a year ago – an one on one elimination competition. This year men's singles were forced to compete in the 1/8 final, in other classes, there were mostly three rounds. The harsh formula – loser eliminated – forced all the athletes to push themselves to the limit in each race.
This year The English Rowing Club was represented not only by the eight of the State University trained at the club's base but also by the club's team born in a match meeting against the Swiss crew ten days ago. Compared to that race, the team has changed – it was reinforced by the active athletes Roman Vorotnikov and Victor Yanovsky, involved in the club programs, the employee of the club Paul Bukanov. Denis Markelov, a recent longtime member of the Russian national team, got the stroke seat, he was also supported by Evgeny Andreev, Victor Evtukhov, Alexander Konovalov and Luke Acheson. Evgeny Luzyanin dropped out because of an injury.
Unfortunately, the first sensation of the race - with a minus sign - was created by one of its few "star" participants - Olympic champion Igor Kravtsov, representing the ERC. The honored athlete, trained at the club in the off-season and season, went Drysdale's dubious way and suddenly lost in the first round to a young opponent from Temryuk. Eventually, Denis Klesnev excelled in the men's singles as in the last year. Joining forces in the men's pairs, two veterans also "distinguished" themselves having been knocked out in the semifinal. The club's crew of the exotic "Viking" performed disgracefully having also lost in the semifinal. However, the club made no secret that the main bet had been placed on the eight.
In the first round of the Alexander Nevsky Cup, the club's team easily dealt shortly with the eight of young athletes from SVSM (Sports School). The advantage of ERC was more than two shell lengths - a huge gap for such a short distance. Another sensation occurred in the semifinal. The ERC crew was supplemented by... the honorary chairman of the club, five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave! Having arrived on the eve of the race, the patron of the Golden Blades Regatta, who had had an extremely rich business program, unexpectedly agreed to the proposal to reinforce the ERC eight! Remarkably, this start became the first official race of Sir Steven after ending his phenomenal career with gold in Sydney in 2000. This only performance, perhaps, was worth it to spend a few hours not only under the St. Petersburg drizzling rain but also under a tropical storm.
Evgeny Andreyev, a longtime member of the Russian national team, number 3 in the ERC eight: "We are amazed by Redgrave's rowing – a powerful reach and extremely precise work at the margins. I have the feeling that the man never stopped practicing and racing. To be in the same boat with him is a great honor and an unforgettable experience."
The legendary British took the sixth seat, Victor Yanovsky moved to the second, Dubliner Luke Acheson, finishing his internship in St. Petersburg and membership in the ERC, went to support the team from the shore. It was a curious meeting of Redgrave and coxswain A. Lipsky – the first after their rivalry in the Olympic final in Seoul 24 years ago!
Needless to say that, with the reinforced lineup, the club's team as easily passed the semifinal round. However, the final result was unpredictable despite the reinforcement – there veterans had to sort things out with the primary eight of St. Petersburg State University, last year's winner of the University Cup, who just returned from the Grand Moscow Regatta in the status of the national youth team selected to participate in the World Championship U23. Perhaps you can say – there is little doubt about the victory of this team. However, their time shown in the semifinal was just 1 second better than that of the club's team, and it promised to stiff competition.
Denis Markelov, longtime stroke of the Russian national eight, stroke of the ERC eight: "For me, there is no other place other than the first in any race. In this case it was particularly desirable to punish youth. Despite the fact that our team has an amateur status, our rowing – at least on a short distance – is not that bad."
Victor Yanovsky, Master of Sports, number 2 of the ERC eight: "During the warm-up before the final, I saw that the St. Petersburg State University team was not that good at accelerating. There is a lot of health and desire, but with every stroke, they actually rearrange themselves from place to place. I told my teammates that they are ours."
200 meters is a superfast distance even for small boats, not to mention the academic battleships. It is actually 30 starting strokes to be done not only quickly but also efficiently. The main final race of the regatta in the open class of eights turned to be exceptionally dramatic. The starting strokes gave the advantage of almost half a length to the ERC team, then water started to boil faster under the oars, the struggle was desperate. The students team caught up with the rival team but failed to come forward. The teams finished almost simultaneously. A few minutes of waiting in silence to the heavy breathing of athletes – and the announcement of the judge: "The victory in this race took the team of the English Rowing Club!"
The joy of the club's eight was stormy. Later the photo finish became available and showed that the advantage of the ERC team was about two numbers of the boat. The sensational victory – the first notable success of the revived club – was being watched from the banks by dozens of loyal fans of rowing, including distinguished veterans led by the legendary Yury Tyukalov, and television audiences. Despite the rain getting heavier, the awarding ceremony was held in an atmosphere of warmth and exceptional sporting fraternity. The prizes were handed by the founding fathers of the race – Sir Steven Redgrave and Alexander Konovalov.
Alexander Alekaev, Chairman of Amateur Sport Foundation, master of sports of the USSR in the marine all-round: "I was surprised not only that Redgrave, the world-famous man, got into the boat and won the race. He had to change clothes several times during the day from the official club suit to sports apparel and vice versa, and all that he did without a trace of resentment and objection!"
The success of the English Club became double. The second team of SPSU, which is trained at the club's base, having performed in the students category, won the University Cup. Late in the evening, the club members and staff tasted champagne from two trophies at once at a party at the fireplace in the lounge of the club. It will be the second time the names of St. Petersburg State University students will be engraved on the base of the prize. The main relic – engraving «Redgrave» on the top prize of the race – will be preserved for history. The knight of British rowing has helped his Russian club squad to win the Alexander Nevsky Cup.
Steven Redgrave, five-time Olympic champion and Honorary Chairman of the English Rowing Club, number 6 in the ERC eight: «Any normal person feels fear before the race. Your task is to cope with this fear. I never said: "I came to this Olympics to win." I knew I had come to do everything in my power to win. Today was an interesting day, we competed and turned out to be stronger. Next year I will cast a few pounds and help the team to win with more noticeable advantage."
Farewell to Teacher
Sergei Kotkov has passed away
St.Petersburg, June 25
The sad news of the death of one of the best known and most successful coaches in St. Petersburg and Russia – Sergei Vasilyevich Kotkov – traveled around St.Petersburg's rowing world. For many crews of Leningrad/St.Petersburg rowers, Sergei Vasilyevich was not just a coach, but a mentor, a teacher, and, at times, almost father who had protected athletes from sports failures and life's troubles. In the last year Sergei Vasilyevich worked at the English Rowing Club (ERC) and greatly helped its formation and renewal with his experience and knowledge. The bright memory of S. Kotkov will remain forever in our hearts.
For the First Time in the Semifinals of the Royal Regatta
The Men's Eight of SPSU has been preparing long and earnest for their second trip to Henley.
June 30, Henley-on-Thames
Some of you may recall that last year the team performed at the Royal Regatta in the second most prestigious competition of eights – Ladies Plate Challenge, where, thanks to lot, they came directly to the semifinals, but ... straight to the Germans, who were modestly called the team from rowing clubs of Berlin and Rostock, and in fact represented a group of sweep rowers from the national team. Having shown a stubborn resistance to the rivals, who won the regatta the next day, and having dropped out of the competition in the first round, the St.Petersburg students fostered their thirst for revenge and victory.
This thirst could not be soothed with any victories in local regattas on the Thames, where the team held a training camp for six weeks that summer, no decent performance in the famous race of eights – Head of the River – in March of this year, or third place in the Marlow regatta - the last official start held on the Olympic track at Dorney before the London Games. Thanks to these performances of the team, this year the team, submitted to the category of student eights – Temple Challenge Cup, was released from the qualifying race and even included among the 'seeded' teams by the organizers.
The St. Petersburg State University team has performed almost in last year's lineup. The four on the stern remained unchanged (D.Kuznetsov, K.Chelohyan, A.Dolgov, D.Alekseev). Young giant A.Gladky, who became the heaviest participant of the last year's regatta with his 118 kg, was replaced with D.Golovin from Magnitogorsk. D.Salmanovich, N.Kulenyshev of the old lineup sat at the bow with added I.Charkin. Like in the previous year, K.Barkarov led the team.
However the way up in this prestigious nomination of HRR was long and difficult – the superiority was challenged by 32 student eights from different countries. With the first opponent – University of West England, the St. Petersburg team dealt confidently, having recorded the derogatory for losers note "easily" – "with a clear advantage", i.e. with a margin of more than 5 lengths, – in the minutes maintained in the tradition of English regattas.
In the 1/8 final in the next day, the Russian team met with the Dutch - University of Groningen. Having gained confidence from the day before and maintaining thirst for victory, the Russians again left no chance opponents from the start, winning by a margin of 3! boat lengths.
In the 1/4 final our team met with the old rival – Oxford Brookes University, against which the boys repeatedly raced in the last and this year. The SPSU team again took a strong start, seized the advantage from the beginning and did not miss the victory by winning half a length against the Britons.
This was a great success. Under the rules of HRR, losers have to leave the boathouses immediately and not to appear in the sports area of the regatta anymore. Therefore, as the last two days of racing were approaching, the sports area was becoming emptier and emptier. There are only 80 participants in the last 20 nominations of the regatta. To get to this stage, to be among the four teams vying for one of the cups, is an honor and prestige in itself. Suffice to say that none of the British teams did not reach the semi-finals in the Temple Challenge this year.
The Petersburg team, however, was determined to do better. Only the Americans were now among the contenders. In one of the pairs, the future winners of the regatta - University of Washington in Seattle and Harvard – fought, and the St. Petersburg State University and Brown University – in another. St Petersburg was unlucky with the draw pointing them to the Berks lane, i.e. located further from the stands, and the weather which made this lane much less convenient than the other. Unfortunately, this factor together with the power of the American team, which showed the fastest time of the day in one of the previous rounds, played a crucial role. On the course of the race comments the chairman of the sponsorial board of the Amateur Rowing Association, chairman of ERC Alexander Konovalov, who watched the whole race from the escort boat. The Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, and vice-president of Gazprombank - sponsor of the team – Andrew Savchenko – joined him in this boat supporting the team.
"Our team made a good start and the first 500 meters was head-to-head with the Americans. It seems that, for both teams which easily won in the previous rounds, this situation of fierce rivalry was new, but both teams were ready for it. Nobody was going to give way. However, as we approached the farm Remenhem (the second check mark on the distance of about 700 meters after the start), the draw of lanes played its role. At this point the Berks lane, along which rivals was racing, is directly adjacent to the bank, and over 200 meters it consists of a nearly mirror-like surface not damaged by wind. The American coxswain skillfully steered at the very bank using the lack of wind and a weaker counter-current to the maximum advantage, and the opponent was slowly but inexorably pushing forward. Our guys were not going to give up and continued to fight against a very tough opponent. But in their part of the water, on the contrary, there were strong waves and wind. It seems preserving a small gap was given at a great price - the guys were obviously fed up. Anyway, after going through this section, the advantage of the Americans grew constantly. However, as in last year's unlucky semi-final, the Petersburg team fought to the end not allowing the opponent to take a breath. Moreover, 500 meters to the finish line, the stroke of the SPSU team picked up the pace, and in a few strokes we won back at least half a length, but the Americans have immediately reacted with a spurt and regained the advantage."
At the finish line, the advantage of the Brown University was half of a boat. Both teams pushed themselves to the limit. Perhaps the victory was too dear to the Brown University - the next day, in the final, they showed little resistance to their fellows from Seattle. The Petersburg eight did not hide their disappointment, which showed their increased ambitions, but found strength to thank and congratulate the opponents on the good tradition of rowing races. However, there is no need to be ashamed of their result. The Russian team appeared in Temple Challenge Cup for the first time in history and made it to the top four. Earlier Henley was attended only by the USSR national eights being able to win the Grand Challenge Cup, which they did repeatedly. Successful participation of the Russian team in the prestigious category of the Royal Regatta certainly raises the prestige of Russian rowing and someday will attract more and more young athletes to university rowing clubs in Russia. The four days of racing at Henley became an excellent training for the future career of the St. Petersburg State University team.
First in the City
The first team of SPSU won the city championship. Two more club eights in the championship finals
July 5, St. Petersburg
Perhaps a city championship did not cause such a stir for a long time. Seven men's eights showed up to participate for the first time in many years. Three of them were from the English Rowing Club - two of the St. Petersburg University and the masters club eight reinforced with the performing athletes R.Vorotnikov, V.Yanovsky and I.Kravtsov.
However, this reinforcement was darkened against the scout policy of the MTU club - along with their eight-year stroke and leader, a great rowing enthusiast A.Trofimov on the bow, the crew included neither more nor less ... four of the Russian national team led by Kuleshov! The open city championship status maked it possible for such a team to participate. On one hand, it led to unkind irony remarks (from forecasts for the next year's participation of the New Zealand crews in the St. Petersburg starts to the final congratulations to members of the national team for taking prizes at a city championship). On the other hand, a strong line-up of participants and intense rivalry became a real gem of the race and, hopefully, will give a good boost to the development of rowing in the city. The day before, the club put a team of male four in the competition, but the start of the club crew (D.Markelov, V.Evtukhov, A.Konovalov, E.Luzyanin) was unsuccessful: they lost to both opponents, young rowers from SVSM.
The number of bids in the class of eights required Semifinals. The finalists were predictable - both eights of the State University, the eights of MTU and ERC. Unfortunately, the rules of the competition allowed a little more than an hour for the teams to rest. The ERC team has once again demonstrated its becoming famous start - having confidently lead in the first third of the race, the ERC eight gave up the position to younger and better trained functionally rivals. The struggle for victory unfolded between the first team of SPSU and the MTU team. And only the last few meters of distance secured the advantage of the State University students expressed in half of a shell. The equally fierce battle was for the bronze medal, and the priority of the students of the secondary crew was evident only in the last 100 meters. Igor Kravtsov, the Olympic champion, number 6 in the ERC team: "1000 meters is a tricky distance. On one hand, it is short, and there is no time to take a breath. On the other hand, this is not a sprint, and it is necessary to use your own powers wisely. After the semifinals, I told my teammates that the results of 2.44-2.45 will guarantee the prize places for us. And so it happened - we were only 2-3 seconds behind." In addition to the number of participants and the star line-up, the stubborn and beautiful struggle of eights, as it turned out after making the final protocols, there was another sensation. All four crews in the finals improved a long-term record of the canal – 2 minutes 50 seconds – that was kept (attention) from the Goodwill Games in 1994!
Thanks to the intrigue in the class eights and other principal races of the championship, it was a wonderful festival of rowing. One can only hope for the maintenance of this interest, a further increase in the number of participants and fair competition. It seems appropriate to ensure the city's main start of the season to receive high esteem from the organizers: conducting the finals at a weekend, with semifinals and finals in different days, holding competitions according to the classic Olympic formula - all this would significantly increase the importance of the championship and the interest in it. Needless to say that the question of holding a competition of this level on a well-equipped full two-kilometer distance has overripened.
Race to the Bottom
The English Rowing Club team took part in the famous 70-mile marathon in Finnish Sulkava
July 7, Sulkava
Rowing is quite a harsh sport. The classic two-kilometer distance, a good half of which should be rowed in the anaerobic mode, is a serious challenge for athletes giving all their energy to struggle. A marathon is a slightly different genre, which requires other work and other qualities from the participants, but the main thing is still the same - the ability to endure, and through the pain, reach the finish line.
Marathons usually do not exceed 20 km. Anything above that already tends to the World Tour format - calm rowing in the beautiful waters with halts and picnics. In this sense, the famous regatta in Sulkava (Finland), gathering dozens of participants annually in the category of so-called "Vikings" – 14-seater boats once applied by Finnish farmers for Sunday trips to church, stands apart. 70 kilometers around the picturesque archipelago of islands in the lakes system are covered by participants in a competitive pace.
It was not the first time for the athletes from St. Petersburg to visit Sulkava. A year ago, the 60 km distance was tried out by the veterans of "Znamya" and MTU, and they fully tasted the cunning of the unusual boat and unusual distance. The participants of that race told that they gave too much energy to the first 40 km of the distance, and at the finish, sadly watched Finnish old ladies and farmers, cheerfully waving with oars, pass them.
The English Club was presented by an experimental crew. It featured the full crew of the secondary SPSU eight (the primary crew went to Trakai for the World Youth Championship), supplemented by P.Bukanov, A.Konovalov, A.Fedorov and L.Acheson. The club also drafted I.Dmitriev and A.Kabaylov from "Znamya" for this race. A stroke pair was comprised of Dmitriev and Bukanov. The team, as best it could, took into account the experience of last year's countrymen and stocked with water, energy bars, and (for those who so wish) gloves. Unfortunately, the boat rented for a thousand euro was not in brilliant condition. Not only did it have the sliders simply short for tall rowers, just 15 minutes before the start, it turned out the boat ... had a leakage! Fortunately, the experienced rowers were able to quickly eliminate the defect and were able to get off to a start on time.
The experience of last year's performance of St. Petersburg has been accounted for by the club team in terms of tactics as well. Having cleverly estimated energies, the athletes did not stream away from the start. By their own admission, the main thing for the participants of the race was not to show a record time, but just to test yourself and go to the end of the race. Such a starting attitude was enough to get to sixth position and, considerably losing to the first four teams, to be far enough from the "back of the field" of 30 participants.
Then the unusual rowing brought surprises. Despite the fact that the ERC team did not reduce the rate and quality of rowing, it was overtook by three Finnish teams one after another with apparent ease. Only one of them gave the impression of a well-matched team rowing with a good rhythm, but it was clearly dominated by athletes of retirement age. The other two rowed in an ugly manner.
Alexander Kabailov, former member of the Russian national team, number 7 of the ERC team: "We were struck by the fact that the Finnish teams, without demonstrating qualitative and even elementary synchronous rowing, with a short reach, easily steam away from us. As a result, the first 20 kilometers, we spent experimenting, trying to figure out what rowing pattern in that boat makes the maximum effect."
Alexander Konovalov, number 6 of the ERC team: "The very first workouts in the "Viking" allow us to understand that this type of rowing is fundamentally different from the academic style. Priority in it is given not by power-speed work, but crafty entering of the oar blade in the water. It is a sport for lightweights. The mighty dimensions of academic rowers make more harm than good here, the length of the oar's reach in this boat is still fixed. Suffice to say that the lightest members of our team, whom we put on the bow, weighed a hundredweight each! As a result, the boat ploughed the water with its bow, and in general it is not easy to pull 1,5 tons of live weight for 70 km."
However, endurance and physical strength of the St.Petersburg academic rowers, if somewhat in part, did the trick. After 30 kilometers, the crews which outperformed our athletes before, just as easily, "fell off" one by one. The interval between the 25th and 50th km was the best for our team. But after the 50th km, four hours of continuous rowing, bright and hot sun began to do their job. Rowing was falling apart, and at the final part of the distance, the St Petersburg team even had to endure the struggle for sixth place with one of the pursuers. The Finnish crew managed to reduce the gap to the minimum and tried to overtake, but our athletes showed composure and patience – kept the rhythm of rowing and managed to add to the reach in the last kilometers. In the end, the ERC team travelled the three-kilometer finish straight with a comfortable advantage, which it has retained to the finish line, having defended "their" sixth place. A great contribution to the result of the team was confident and skillful steering of experienced A.Lipsky.
Igor Dmitriev, stroke of the ERC team: "The race was very difficult, I did not expect that it would be so difficult. Rowing in the "Viking" is very different from academic, and, given the lack of experience, our passage of the race was flawed. However, we endured to the end, buckled down and got to the finish with dignity."
The time of the ERC team on the 70-kilometer distance – 5 hours 52 minutes. The spread of the results was quite serious – the winners went out of 5:00 (4 hours 58 minutes), it took more than eight hours for the outsiders. Amazingly, along with 14-oared "Vikings", the 70-kilometer distance was being overcome by ... single boats! The competition has become a serious test of character for both club veterans and young rowers. Overcoming discomfort, pain, their own fears and close to extreme hardship – that is what rowing admirers love in this sport.
The First Step Is Always the Hardest
The SPSU team performed poorly in its first World Youth Championship
July 15, Trakai
The Men's Eight of the St. Petersburg State University, performing under the banner of the national Russian team, failed in its first start in official international competitions. The team went to the race not in the best shape, and rivals were too strong for our boys. In the qualifying and repechage heats the team came last, in the small final it only managed to beat Lithuania and won eighth place of nine. The Americans became the world champions, Germany and Australia became second and third. Participation in the World Cup and the struggle against the most powerful world rowing schools, of course, has its benefits for the team members. Such competitive experience is invaluable if the lesson is properly learned. A chance to show how the lessons were learned the Peterburg students will receive at the Russian National Championship in August.
The competition showed the level of competition in modern rowing and confirmed the already clear truth - there are no miracles, and preparing of a globally competitive crew needs at least 5-6 years of intense and extremely well-organized training at the level of high sportsmanship. Stable success in the international arena is achieved by countries with traditionally high development level of the Olympic sports foundation - child, youth and junior rowing.
In Russia, where the foundation of the sport is almost completely collapsed, waiting for the rapid progress of individual crews is an utopia that harms the purposeful work to rebuild the lost ground.
Steve Redgrave brought the Olympic flame
Honorary Chairman of the English Rowing Club, 5-time Olympic champion Sir Steven Redgrave took part in the procedure of lighting the Olympic flame in the bowl of the XXX Olympic Games
July 27, London
Talks about the role of Sir Steven would be given in the ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, began long before the start of the Olympics. Redgrave's contribution made to the development and prestige of British sport, the Olympic Movement as a whole, and the preparation of the London Games made everyone expect that this role would be the most significant. The athlete himself modestly said that there were many other worthy candidates to light the Olympic flame in London. However, the main argument mentioned by Steve was that the organizers were unlikely to make a decision expected and predicted by everyone.
In the end all three points of view proved to be right – the Games's organizers have managed to merge them together. Sir Stephen was the last of the athletes to whom the Olympic flame was entrusted personally - he took the flame from the boat driven by David Beckham, and took it running to the main Olympic arena, then passed the torch to a group of young people - participants of the opening ceremony. Dozens of British Olympians - Olympic winners also took part in the process of lighting the flame by inspiring the volunteers who put the last point.
Finally, the unpredictability of the director's decision has resulted not only it that unusual roles distribution bu also in a technical finding - the transformation of the gas burner in the middle of a huge stadium into a huge pillar with the Olympic flame. The Olympic flame was lit. Sir Steven Redgrave deservedly made a speech in front of the world as a symbol of British sport and the ideal of the world Olympic movement.
August 3, Dorney
Already from the first mass media broadcasts from the Olympic track in Dorney it became clear that we were witnessing something extraordinary: starting with the great quality of broadcasting - thanks to dozens of cameras shooting the race from different perspectives, including the giant longitudinal cable over the whole distance, rowing appeared in all its beauty for the first time - and ending with a stunning level of preparedness of the leading crews. The compelling finish of men's lightweight fours, perfect in every sense rowing of the UK women's coxless pair, a fantastic result ? 6.8! ? of New Zealanders Bond and Murray in the preliminary race, - these and many other fragments of the Olympic regatta are already inscribed in golden letters in the history of sports.
Perhaps the only thing that cannot be transmitted in full via a TV picture is an incredible atmosphere at Dorney. Giant spectators stands starting from the 500-meter mark and packed with people, friendly volunteers, sincere support for almost all the participants (including the African single sculler who was a minute behind in the closing finale F) and something very special: the growing thunder from the stands turning into the shaking roar whenever a member of or British crew is taking part in the race. But the main thing, of course, was an impressive quality of rowing and fighting at the distance. Most of the finals on August 3 was predictably won by those who was called the favorites, but the tension and intrigue of this race was not lost that was only further evidence of the will, courage, and great skill of the winners. The wins of Bond, Murray, and Drysdale, gold of the British crew in the women's double sculls, hard-earned bronze medals of Campbell and men's rowing pair continued and strengthened the triumph of the British and New Zealand schools at this Olympics. This was their finest hour which will be difficult for someone else to repeat. On August 4, the British team expected to take gold in the men's lightweight fours and pairs will confidently complete this extravaganza. 13 licenses, all the participants in major finals, 4 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals - no country have had such a successful performance since the triumph of the GDR at the Moscow Olympics, and all this despite the hugely increased competition and fierce fight for every inch of advantage in modern rowing. The success of the New Zealand team is also amazing ? a tiny country in which no more than 500 people practice rowing systematically (and not 2 months a year in physical training class at universities), due to its unique effective training, almost "closed" all small classes in men's rowing in recent years. There is no doubt that the long-awaited triumph of Mah? Drysdale, who stayed in our memory since his visit to the regatta "Golden Blades" as a modest and focused guy, was completely deserved, as well as the long-awaited Olympic medal of long-suffering Campbell, a Brit from Ulster, walking to this award with so much distress, colossal difficulty and patience. The tears of the brave athlete on the podium, with the national flag of his country, for which he obtained the glory with his own sweat and blood, is the true symbol of this Olympics.
At some point, I hesitated to answer the simple question of my wife pointing to a middle-aged woman volunteer on the stand at Dorney: "What motivates her to stand there in the heat for hours for free showing people whether they have to go to the right or to the left, and even without being able to properly see the competition?" In the end, the only answer that came to my mind was the fact that all these people - volunteers, spectators, and Olympic athletes - just really wanted to be in their own way involved in the "big idea" and the glory of their country they love and respect even when they do not like or respect its politicians. Perhaps you can properly organize training of Olympic athletes, hire a foreign coach, a naturalize a couple of Serbs or Byelorussians, and eventually win a medal or even gold at one of the closest contests. But the real triumph and many years of success can be only achieved when thousands of people will come to rowing clubs annually, and not for money, but simply out of love for the sport and for our country, to become more trained, brave and prepared to forge its success and fame in sports arenas and beyond...
Revenge Did Not Happen
The club's eight from ERC beat the opponents from the Geneva Rowing Club
Geneva, August 5
The eight of the St.Petersburg State University (SPSU) was the third in the sprint regatta in honor of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The tradition of friendly club matches of the ERC eight continued in Geneva with the return visit of our team to the veterans of Societe Nauitique de Geneve - the famous club on Lake Geneva, which prepared champions for the Olympic Games in 1912 and 1924. Now the club is better known and, therefore, is engaged in promoting yachting - the club's crews successfully participate in the most prestigious regattas of the world. The conditions for training of rowers are more modest - a few cramped boathouses, in one of which 5-6 ergometers are installed, access to water is through the narrow neck between the parked yachts, and most importantly - the problem, making Genevans and Petersburgers akin, with troubled waters plowed by winds and motor vehicles - all this, however, did not damage the warm atmosphere of the friendly meeting of rowers. The composition of the Genevan eight has not changed, the St. Petersburg eight lost its stroke in the match race - V.Evtukhov, who had appeared in the Genevan club and suddenly left the team in order to catch a train on urgent business. His place in the stern was taken by P.Bukanov. D.Markelov, R.Vorotnikov, A.Konovalov, E.Andreev, V.Yanovsky, P.Vakulov and Fedorov sat themselves behind him. E.Barkarov was the coxswain.
The distance for the race was chosen somewhat shorter than in St. Petersburg - about 500 m. Perhaps, the hosts, recalling their performance at the rowing canal in Primorsky Park, felt that the shorter distance will increase their chances for a revenge. Unfortunately, in terms of the sports component of the visit, the guests found themselves in less comfortable conditions this time - the boat was not provided to them a few days or even the day before but just an hour before the start. Given the tight timing - the city authorities took the unprecedented decision to shut down the movement of vessels on the adjacent to Geneva part of the lake for the sake of the visit of Petersburgers, but only until 10 in the morning - there was little time to assemble, configure and prepare the boat, and none - to practice. However, the hosts were also in similar conditions and were assembling their boat right before the start.
The race at the morning deserted Geneva was not too intriguing - this time the advantage of the ERC eight was not in doubt from the very start and was clearly more than two shells on the finish line defined by the organizers roughly and fairly abstract. This uncertainty has played a bad joke on the team of Petersburg students before when they took a few starts at the traditional sprint regatta on the same distance and the winner was determined by a complex multi-step formula. In the semifinals, they were 100 percent sure of their superiority over the opponents, but their astonishment knew no bounds when the judge told them that they actually lost and the finish line was crossed first by the opponents. To their question: "Where is your finish line then?" the reply was: "Well ... somewhere here." As a result, the SPSU team had to settle for the third place.
This blunder has not affected a very warm overall experiences at the Geneva club. The hosts did their best to provide maximum hospitality for the Petersburgers, having paid for their travel and accommodation, handled commemorative prizes, and organized a farewell barbecue on the terrace of the club. The race were not of a fundamental nature and had been organized for the development of friendly club contacts, and, for the eight of the St. Petersburg State University, was also called to serve for adaptation of the athletes after a hard training camp in Tajikistan. The real competition for them will begin very soon - on August 22nd-23rd, when they will have to race at the national championship, which will serve as an evaluation for the main start of the season - the first in the history world student championship in Kazan.
For Beaten Eight...
The main eight of the Saint Petersburg State University (SPSU) has failed the most important start in the season. The second composition sensationally made it into one of the strongest teams in Russia.
August 23, Moscow
The start at the national championship in Moscow was supposed to be largely determinative for the athletes from SPSU. The team managers and coaches never made any secret of the fact that they reserved the first two years for a calm running and building of the university team in the power saving mode without setting high goals.
That's what was the first season in which the team learned a lot and overfulfilled the minimum plan, having won at the European Student Championship in Moscow. Perhaps this is partly played a negative role - the athletes and coaches felt a taste of victories and their readiness to pursue them in the next season. The forcing of training was due to other factors as well - primarily, the dissatisfaction of the first coaches of the athletes delegated in the university team over the lack of points brought by the team for successful performance in the events of the national calendar, and undisguised skepticism about the prospects of the SPSU project from the National Federation side.
Partially, this skepticism was dispelled by the team’s steady performance at the spring evaluations for Great Moscow Regatta. The crew has proved that it is clearly the strongest of all peers and won the right to represent the country at the World Youth Championship. Unfortunately, a poor performance in Trakai not only returned and increased skepticism, but also seemed to have had extremely serious consequences within the team. The psychological crisis clearly emerged within the team, from which the coach group, unfortunately, failed to withdraw the team, despite the efforts.
The team performance in the championship of Russia in Moscow had to become the final answer to the question of its readiness to address the serious problems now, during the season. Under the most conservative forecast, the students clearly had the capacity to be among the winners. But the main objective was the recurring victory over the main rivals from Lipetsk - now the main candidates, in terms of the National Rowing Federation, for the participation in the world student championship.
Alas, the final result of the team was hard to predict, even in a worst mood. Having performed fairly limply in the semifinals, the SPSU eight took the last place and dropped out of the number of candidates for the medal and a trip to Kazan. You can lament the fact that the organizers provided the formula without the possibility of re-start in the prestigious class of large boats, but it does not change the assessment of the team's performance - it was a failure. Against this background, it was not clear what it was - the joy or bewilderment – when the second SPSU team had unexpectedly advanced to the finals. Despite the fact that the time shown by the first team in the small final was better than that of the clubmates in the finals, the fact remains – the backup crew was better. Having worked hard in the offseason and during the season, the athletes from which no one expected anything extraordinary raced at their level and psychologically stable, with which confirmed their justifiable ambition and good prospects. Another athlete, who was trained with the support of ERC during this season, - Olympic champion I.Kravtsov - also failed to break into the finals of the singles and also made it only to the seventh place. The participants in the club projects R.Vorotnikov and V.Yanovsky won bronze medals in the four without coxswain, with which ERC congratulates them.
As our outstanding athlete and coach A.S.Fedorov loves to repeat, a negative result is also a result. With the right attitude, painful losses must become a stepping stone to outstanding victories. The performance of the St. Petersburg teams prepared by the club in the season 2012 is to be carefully analyzed. However, one long-lived understandable thesis is still not in doubt - the high level of performance you can only achieve by painstaking and hard work over the objectively necessary time having in mind the "starting base" of each athlete and crew. Another truth was confirmed too - the big victory is impossible with the prevailing attitude: “What can I get from this team?” It is possible only under the attitude: "What can I do to make our boat go faster?"
First in the First City Sprint
In the new line-up, the SPSU eight won the test sprint regatta organized by FISA in Zurich
September 3, Zurich
The International Rowing Federation continues to cope with the genre of sprint races in the water areas of large cities – the idea of the approximation of rowing, in a super-concentrated form of a sprint, to the picturesque historic landscapes and large audiences is considered by the Federation as a good prospect of popularizing the sport. The functionaries from FISA received positive impressions and experience from working together with the Rowing Enthusiasts Association organizing the Golden Blades sprint race in Saint-Petersburg in June 2011.
On September 30, with the support of the Amateur Rowing Association, FISA conducted the first test regatta in the city sprints category in Zurich. The selection of the participants and the formula was conditioned by the capabilities and plans of elite level athletes who completed a difficult Olympic season. In one of the nominations – for student crews – the SPSU team performed as a special guest. The renewed composition of the eight, which got five rowers from the secondary crew, confidently won against students from Switzerland.
Race to the Bottom 2
Having undergone a fierce struggle with the wind, waves and rain, the final race in the dark against the Germans, miraculously passed the finish line and sank 300 meters to the mooring - rowers ERC survived the longest regatta in the world - 160-kilometer Tour de Leman on Lake Geneva
Geneva, September 30
There are many regattas in the world renowned for their specific rules and conditions. The Henley Royal Regatta stands alone among them. However, what happens at Lake Geneva every year on the last weekend of September is something that stands completely alone. The longest distance in the world - 160 km - that are necessary to be raced non-stop without approaching to the shore, and without recourse to outside assistance - is 12-15 hours of rowing, sometimes in the most extreme weather conditions. The participation in the race is the prestige and the memory of a lifetime - even just to finish this distance is considered a great achievement and success. That's what the Tour de Leman held for the 40th time this year is.
Taking advantage of an invitation from Geneva's rowing club, the ERC team took part in the anniversary start. Given the nature of the race and the conditions in which it is held, the participating crews do not have to be too heavy, and the club team was staffed quite unexpectedly this time. However, there was only one real lightweight, and the team was more like a basketball five, where I.Dmitriev played the role of number one, P.Bukanov - number two, A.Kabaylov "played" a light forward, and E.Andreev and A.Konovalov played Bigs. It was encouraging that four of this line-up had an experience of a super marathon in Sulkava less than three months old ago. Alas, looking ahead, we can say that this experience and attempt to make the team line up lighter helped only to a certain extent. Before the start, along with all the other participants of the regatta, our athletes gave the signed notes of taking all the risks associated with participation in the regatta to the cautious Swiss, and guaranteed their ability to float and swim at least 500 meters.
Regatta participants traditionally compete mainly in training fours or quads with a coxswain (What strikes imagination is participation of few entirely crazy and fearless singles in the regatta!). There was only one four represented by a British boat in the 40th regatta, which should be noted for having gotten ahead of a lot of guys in quads. The competition rules allow participants to change place during the race, and, as a rule worked out over many years, all the members of the crew change the place every half hour. A complete circle takes 2.5 hours, within which each member of the crew has 2 hours of rowing and half an hour of rest steering the boat. The half-hour break is used by most marathoners for having a drink and a snack.
Each year there are at least 1-2 really strong crews participating in the race - either from the elite level, or well-trained club teams. Enough to say that it was the German national team, world champions, who won the regatta three years ago, having set an all-time record for passing the super marathon - 11 hours 25 minutes. This year's favorite (and, in the end, the winner) was the team of German clubs made up of rowers repeatedly participated in the regatta and specially prepared to win.
The ERC team, performing as a newcomer in the race in rather peculiar "veteran-novice" status, as earlier in Sulkava, did not set a goal to take the highest possible position in the final ranking. The task was simple - to get to the finish line, but, God, how complicated it was! It all started the day before, on Friday (which was mainly devoted to equipping of the boat, which was kindly provided by the Geneva rowing club, by bump stops and decks of high-density polyethylene), with highly adverse weather forecast. Because of it, the race started an hour earlier - at 8.00 - and on a changed route. The usual route involves passing the first half of the distance along the Swiss shore of the lake and the return - along the short French. The modified route, repeatedly practiced earlier by the organizers in case of bad weather conditions when rowing along the French coast is almost impossible due to strong waves, runs to the town of Montreux and back also along the Swiss shore. The total length of the distance, alas, does not shrink.
At 8:00am on Saturday morning, September 29, a shot from a cannon sent about 30 participants from different countries - Switzerland, France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Russia, and the U.S - to a monstrously long race. Almost immediately it began to rain and did not stop through almost the entire daylight hours, drizzling or becoming sufficiently stronger. The dry clothes brought by our athletes remained unclaimed - changing did not make sense, one would just freeze harder. By the way, because of the rain and dank wind, the long-wished-for half-hour breaks on the helm turned into torture - the soaking wet athletes quickly froze, and then going back to the oars needed a good half hour to recover. Needless to say, in such circumstances, food (or more precisely, a banana or energy bar) was getting stuck in anyone 's throat. It was close to the 70th kilometer when our marathoners started to shove a meal down their throats by fiat of will in order to prevent health problems.
Improper passing of one of the 12 obligatory buoys by our team had to be attributed to a number of additional troubles. Because of the poor knowledge of the distance, the crew had to return a good kilometer back at the request of the judges and check in with the missed buoy.
As it was acknowledged by the athletes the sports component quickly faded into the background. If we talk about it - the team was almost always at the rate of 20-22 strokes in the aerobic mode (if we use data by A.Konovalov, who was wearing a heart rate monitor along the distance, during the working period, he was in the range of 140-145 beats per minute during 14,5 hours spent on covering the distance by the team, and spent 11,600 kcal). Having taken a position somewhere between the 15th and 20th (our crew missed many competitors because of the return to the missed buoy), the ERC four went on their own without forcing things and did not try to catch up with rivals. Actually, it seemed that all the other participants was following the same strategy - the time on the course and the final place in the protocol were determined only by the quality of cruising speed, which a particular crew was capable of. In fact, it was more like a super-long training that had to endured. It was this task - to survive in super harsh conditions of rain, wind, waves, cold and the gradually growing fatigue of the body - that quickly took all athletes' consciousness. The picturesque shores of the lake (Lausanne is where FISA is based) were not seen by them and have not left the slightest of memories.
At last, Montreux - a town on the far end of the Swiss shores of Lake Geneva- that was the last refuge of the genius sinner Freddie Mercury. Today, for participants of the regatta Tour de Leman, it is a key milestone, behind which the race starts its countdown and half of the distance is covered. The same shore, cold rain and wind, the incredibly long 80 kilometers are ahead. All the participants of the regatta have taken their places, nobody is trying to win back the lead, our team is going all alone accompanied only by a motorboat providing security. It is starting to get dark when the four approaches the buoy which it was not able to pass properly many hours ago. It is about 30 kilometers left to Geneva. It seems that all athletes are already exhausted, and there cannot be anything worse - you just crawl that 30 "on the teeth". It turns out that can. The worst is yet to come.
Before the cape jutted out into the lake, beyond which the conventionally called "final straight" with the length of about 30 kilometers begins, our athletes were warned from the safety motorboat that there were strong waves starts behind the cape, and were told to be careful and try to stay closer to the shore, but not to worry as they were there to assist. What happened behind the cape could only be dreamt of in a nightmare. Waves with lambs, sometimes reaching almost meter-high, wild wind constantly taking the boat to the sharp rocks of the shoreline, bump stops beginning to crumble, ever increasing supply of sea water in the shell, and finally the pitch darkness fell on the raging lake - that's what waited for our team on the last kilometers of the distance. More and more frequently, the crew had to switch to rowing in three, and then in the two shifts, which has naturally reduced the speed of the shell, but it seemed to help the team not to drown in the outer harbor. Changing places was out of the question, and the last 3 hours of the race the athletes went without change in the positions where the harsh weather found them: P.Bukanov on the helm, A.Kabaylov on the stern, then E.Andreev, A.Konovalov and I.Dmitriev. Continuous rowing has placed a huge burden on the already fully exhausted athletes, leg cramps began, some of the athletes was about to vomit, someone - to faint. Somewhere in the distance, the light of the safety motorboat was flashing in the dark - how the safeguards were going to save the rowers in distress was a mystery. The lights of Geneva were approaching but extremely slow.
Our team paid dearly for passing the storm section (as it turned out, it was not passed by all participants). Because of the loss in speed from rowing in two shifts, it let close their nearest pursuers - it became clear from the rivals' speech that can be heard from behind the noise of waves - the German crew. Unbelievable, but on the 500-meter finish straight after 160 kilometers of distance and, apparently, completely exhausted, the four of ERC had to contend with a rival in a finishing spurt! Raising the rate above 30 strokes per minute, the rowers (who, as it turned out, at any age and in any condition stay rowers - people who do not want to lose) began to break away from the Germans who also were coughing up their last energy in the finishing spurt. It was a real culmination of the race, one of the moments for which it is worth living. Unfortunately, the wrong steering again due to poor knowledge of the distance predetermined the loss of our team in this stormy night battle on the lake - drawing a finishing segment one a half times greater than it should have had been, we lost to the Germans, but REACHED THE FINISH LINE!
It seemed to be all for that day. It turned out again it was not.
Having safely passed monstrous waves on the good part of the last 20 kilometers of the distance, where the rowers were already thinking of themselves sitting in the club lounge with a mug of hot tea in their hands, some 300 meters from the mooring raft and 20 meters from the shore - the boat of our team rapidly gained the critical volume of water and went under water. It was too much for the exhausted rowers. Bathing in cold water before dawn, more than a 10-minute wait of the safety boat that was close enough but amazingly slow and clumsy to react to what had happened (trying the promised ability of the Russians to swim 500 meters?), the loss of all the stuff in the boat, a long way to the hotel, the athletes shivering from the cold, and clearly not deserving it, endured all this. Transferred load and impression on a club team so shock the impression that its members are not even drink on their return to the hotel really could not, and stockpiled beer, cheese and sausage were virtually unused. The experienced strain and impressions had such a shocking effect on the club team that the athletes could not even drink upon their return to the hotel, and the stockpiled beer, cheese and sausage were virtually unused.
By all accounts, the team received the best possible set of experiences for the fees paid to participate in the regatta. The culmination of the trip was the handing, to all the participants by the organizers, of the small silver-coated cups with the words "Tour de Leman 2012". A short title which means a lot and is written in the history of the revived club.
The ERC club's eight tested its strength in three famous marathon competitions in different continents. The experimental season, the first after the revival of the English Rowing Club, of the club's men's eight, staffed by three categories of athletes - active athletes, performing for the team in the pauses of their official calendar, renowned on the Russian level rowers, who recently completed their official career, and, finally, veterans in the full sense of the word - who finished the racing career more than twenty years ago - ended with three starts in the traditional marathon competitions of eights in Berlin, St. Petersburg and Boston.
On October 6, the team accomplished the famous seven- kilometer marathon through the center of Berlin, having taken the second place in the masters category. The participation in the race was complicated by a number of moments, the most crucial among them - the late provision of the boat by the organizers. The Berlin Rowing Club, which provided the hospitality to our rowers, was not able to fulfill its promise to allocate inventory, and the early arrived St. Petersburg athletes hung around in vain almost until the very start. When the possibility of taking part in the famous marathon seemed to be under threat, thorough Germans did find a boat for the St. Petersburg crew just 20 minutes (!) before the start. It turned out to be a wooden Empacher obviously built in the 50's, which had yet to be removed from the structure, assembled and configured!
Fortunately, the experience of our athletes let them deal with the difficult task, and the ERC eight was able to cast off the raft 3 minutes before the start. Since the marathon starting line Durch Berlin Centrum was located in close proximity, the team was able to start on time. Another difficulty was the weather - immediately after the start, our team was caught by a furious blast of rain and wind, it was a problem to even breathe air in the lungs for a few strokes. In seconds, the rowers were soaking wet, the boat gained a decent amount of water, and they had passed just 500 meters of distance! Fortunately, the unsuccessful start did not break the team's mood, it reoriented to the distance pace, passed the distance at the rate of 26-28 strokes per minute with a good speed and excellent steering by the Olympian veteran Andrei Lipsky. This allowed our athletes to take the second place in the final chart and, with a sense of accomplishment, to go get dry and warm up the traditional German way - sausages, beer and J?germeister. On October 14, with the same crew, the team took part in the open class of the marathon of eights, revived by the English Rowing Club last year, - "Spartacus" around Stony Island. This time the team was less successful - it took only the fifth place out of six participants, having yielded to the two State University teams, the principal opponents from the MTU (3 seconds) and the club "Znamya".
Finally, on October 20, our rowers got to the start line on another continent - in the famous race Head of the Charles in Boston. The competition, comparable in terms of fame and popularity with the Henley Regatta, annually brings together dozens of crews from different countries, which, together with the atmosphere of excitement and friendliness on the banks of the river, makes it a real celebration of rowing. Famous athletes of the past and present regularly come to take part in the race. For example, this year's race of eights in the masters class was won by the Britons with the famous Matthew Pinsent coxing. The organizers, judges, spectators and participants of the regatta repeatedly warmly welcomed the St. Petersburg team and wished it good luck in the race. Although the teams go on the distance with a split start, the short intervals between starts and hard struggle turn the race into a colorful show, holding thousands of viewers on their toes. It is enough to say that a good third of articles in the regulations of the race covers the rules of overtaking a rival. Having started in the club teams category, the ERC eight did not allow to overtake itself on the distance, it also managed to overtake one and almost overtook another American crew. In the end, our athletes took the 26th place of 36 crews - mostly university and strong club teams. In the first two races, the ERC eight was: D.Markelov, R.Vorotnikov, V.Yanovsky, E.Andreev, A.Konovalov, E.Luzyanin, A.Fedorov, P.Bukanov, cox A.Lipsky. In Boston, K.Belyaev and I.Dmitriev performed instead of R.Vorotnikov and A.Lipsky.
The popularity of rowing in America is fascinating. Every day, in dozens of U.S. colleges and universities, hundreds of students go to rowing clubs at 6am. They warm up on ergometers, row for one hour and a half and go to school. Then they go again for a second training at about 3 pm. Almost none of them will receive any discounts on the tuition, not to mention the benefits for the development of the curriculum. Many are paying for classes in clubs and of course for trips to competitions, but there is no end to those who are willing to engage in rowing! No wonder that the United States won the Olympic Games in the class of men's eights for 12 times, and this year, the honor of the Stars and Stripes was supported by women at the Olympics in London.
Hopefully, the friendly races of the ERC eight, with the primary purpose of promotion of rowing in St. Petersburg, will stimulate the revival of love and interest to our wonderful sport in our country.
Until Next Time
The English rowing club finished the 2012 season with the traditional club championship and an unofficial race
St. Petersburg, October 27
The first two championships, since its revival in 2010, were conducted by the English Rowing Club on Saturdays, on the eve of the traditional Autumn Marathon of fours, in early October, and the honorary club title was given out in a race around Stony Island (5 kilometers) in coastal singles. In 2010, a prominent British rower, silver medalist in Beijing, an honorary member of the club Joshua West became the champion of the club. He left behind another Olympic silver medalist - Valeriy Kleshnev - and Alexander Konovalov. Victor Evtukhov won the second championship, held on the same formula, having defeated Evgeny Andreev, Igor Dmitriev, who performed hors concours, and Alexander Konovalov.
This fall, thanks to a number of organizational reasons, the championship was conducted at a later date, when the racing passage of the broad waters had become unsafe. Having that in mind, the championship formula was changed, and quite radically: a supersprint instead of a marathon race, and skiffs were used instead of coastal boats. Only the tradition of admission of the permanent members of the club in the singles category was observed.
On a serene October afternoon, the Krestovka river, for a few hours, was filled with cheerful bustle and extra bright colors - on a background of yellow autumn foliage and the dark gray waters, athlete-rowers, in quick spurts, ran the ultrashort distance (about 150 meters) - from the MTU club house to the sculpture of a girl with a paddle, which has become the symbol of ERC. Prior to the main competition - the club championship, friendly races in singles and doubles were conducted with the participation of the athletes, who had been training on the clubs base in the ending season or participated in its projects. A farewell to the season was passed in good spirits, there were no losers that day. The club's employee Pavel Bukanov became the new champion, having defeated the last year's winners A.Konovalov and E.Andreev. By tradition, the race (or in this case - the club season as well) ended with a party of all the participants at the fireplace in the club's lounge.
Happy Birthday, Energy!
A famous rowing club has been revived in St. Petersburg.
October 28, Saint-Petersburg
The St.Petersburg Rowing Club “Energy”, founded on Krestovsky island at the mouth of the Krestovka river, was once so popular that Alexei Tolstoy described it in a passage surely beloved by all rowers “the Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin”. In the 50-80ss, the club may conceded in its scope of work and, accordingly, the results to major sports centers - most notably, "Znamya" and "Dynamo", but quite a number of outstanding athletes were trained in its walls during this period. An exceptionally friendly atmosphere of the sportive rowing brotherhood, mutual assistance, genuine and unconditional love for rowing prevailed on its small territory as in all the Leningrad clubs. But the main attribute of the "Energy", having made it renowned far beyond Leningrad-Petersburg, has become the famous Autumn Marathon of fours which was conducted at the club every first Sunday of October, and remains to this day perhaps the most popular and most visited rowing event in our city.
Last year, the club would have had celebrated the significant date – the centenary of the foundation. This, unfortunately, did not happen – the club ceased to exist in 2007, and the cottages of the Constitutional Court rose in the place of a cozy club base. Well, time does not stand still, and justice no less than rowing intended to decorate our city and serve as its symbol. But the city’s sports community did not want to put up with the loss of their favorite club.
The way out from a seemingly hopeless situation was made possible through the combined efforts of the Lesgaft Academy of Physical Culture and Sports and the Association of rowing enthusiasts. The former provided part of the territory occupied by its Department of rowing, the latter formed a sponsorship budget which made it possible, on the provided site, to build a complete sports facility, the first phase of which was opened in 2010 as the reborn English Rowing Club, in record time - less than two years. The construction of the second phase - with a beautiful and well-equipped gym, a spacious boathouse with a boat fleet, medical room, kitchen and a small dormitory for athletes - was basically finished in 2011 and then served as a base for training of the St. Petersburg university teams.
It is this part of the club, which can be used autonomously, has been transformed into another revived rowing club by the Association of rowing enthusiasts. On October 28, in a warm atmosphere, with the participation of renowned Leningrad-Petersburg veterans of rowing, its presentation took place, and the traditional white and blue banner of "Energy" fluttered over Krestovky Island again. The new rowing center, which will be based here, will open its doors for pupils-athletes, students, veterans, and all the lovers of rowing and healthy leisure activities on the water.
The English Rowing Club will continue to exist under the same roof with the Rowing Center "Energy" in two hundred meters from the place of its historical dislocation. As originally conceived, it will focus on the study of the history and promotion of St. Petersburg, Russian and British rowing; providing opportunities to train for masters athletes; development of friendly interclub contacts.