On the Classical Route
The English Rowing Club crew made a heroic passage under oars from the upper Thames to London.
Of all the PR campaigns of ERC undertaken since its revival to promote rowing and development of friendly contacts, this one having opened another club's rowing season corresponds to the name of the club to the greatest extent. On the famous British four-oar sciff boat built in 1910, by the route described by English humor classicist Jerome Jerome, under the traditional for Foggy Albion, rainy and windy weather, the rowers of ERC - Chairman of the Board Alexander Konovalov and coach Denis Markelov, in 4 days, have passed all the mother Thames from its headwaters to London.
The traversed route, a good half of which is really detailed in the famous book, in fact, is quite popular among Britons. It begins in a tiny old town of Lechlade - where the Thames becomes navigable (upstream , it is per se a wide creek, impassable even for rowing vessels, maybe except for kayaks in the best case), and ends in the Richmond area in the western part of London, not far from the famous rugby stadium Twickenham. Passing further down the river is possible, but very complicated, because the so-called tidal section of the river with an exceptionally strong multidirectional flow (around 17 o'clock every day the water level rises by 1.5-2m literally before your eyes) begins there. Therefore, almost all boat tours use Richmond as the final point. The route length is 200 km, the charm of travel is increased by 42 locks scattered along the river at intervals ranging from 2 to 10 km.
Boat «Frank», produced, as mentioned above, in 1910 and renovated in 1990, was made available to our rowers with the kind permission of owner Gavin Dunbar on the recommendation of management of the friendly to ERC club Upper Thames. This is one of traditional British sciffs, which once flooded the Thames (whereby one of these vessels was taken for hire by Jerome Jerome's characters), and now - in the amount of preserved specimens - lovingly maintained or used by connoisseurs of antiquity and leisure under oars. In the UK there are several fan clubs of rowing on these boats. Each year in late June, on the eve of the Henley Regatta, a regatta for such vessels is held in the town of Egham, in which only club members are allowed to participate. It is curious that the rules - apparently preserved from the times of scrupulous compliance with the amateur status of rowers in the clubs - do not allow boat owners to receive any payment for the provision of boats for use!
The sciff boat has two places for scullers, without offsets, with fixed seats and partially open oarlocks, with a wide bench in the stern for a coxswain and a small thwart on the bow (probably for a dog, which, in our case, was not included in the crew). The design of the oars allows to row with the blade turning, although it requires a certain skill as paddle moves freely in the oarlock and easily fall off of it. In full accordance with the historical analog, described by the classic, the boat is equipped with arcs, on which an awning is stretched, and really is quite suitable for overnight stops ... but not for three people as it is described in the book.
The responsible mission of steering was assumed by Maria Suslina - the spouse of A.Konovalov, daughter and niece of famous Soviet rowers. In addition to persistent overcoming of normal for this profession hardships and privations as cold, rain, splashing water and winding riverbanks, by the middle of the trip, she perfectly mastered the management of river locks (all locks on the Thames, outside the period from 9 to 18 hours, operate in the self-service mode, and some of them in the upper parts of the river work in this mode 24/7), which significantly saved time of passing. A special role - the trip organization, coordination of movement from the bank, and provision of logistics - was beautifully performed by Ekaterina Kleshneva, a longtime friend and collaborator of ERC.
So, at 9:00am May 9, boat "Frank", which became a territory of English Rowing Club of St. Petersburg for 4 days, under its blue flag, started from the town of Lechlade just below St. Jones Lock and began its unprecedented tour. The extremely picturesque (and equally exclusively winding), deserted shores of this part of the Thames, with its width sometimes not exceeding 10-15m, do not allow to believe that this is the river and the country which impress everybody with their might for many centuries. Locks in the area are largely not mechanized, their gates are opened and closed by hand, which, along with ancient stone bridges (such as Radcot bridge and Newbridge), adds romance to travel. Incidentally, the name of the latter of these bridges must not be misleading - its construction dates back to the XI century.
However, the main dominant of the passage became wind - strong enough and, on wider sections of the river, capable of creating a sufficiently strong wave; for the most part, fortunately, tailwind, representing a real challenge when becoming a headwind at the next bend of the river. Particularly important for the crew (for reasons which will be discussed later) on that first day was the understanding of the average speed with which it can pass the route. First data for such an understanding (as it turned out generally true for the rest of the route) was obtained on the first day of the passage - 21 km from Lechlade to Newbridge were passed in 4 hours, of which 3 hours were spent on actual work under oars and one - on passing of 5 locks. The crew moved with this rhythm - at a pace of 25-26 strokes per minute, passing 1 km in 6.5 - 7.5 minutes, with the loss of an average of 10-15 minutes per lock - during all subsequent time.
The route of the first day was completed at Oxford, where the crew was around 18 hours, after six hours of rowing (the rest of the time was spent on locks and 2-3 stops), having covered 48 km and 11 locks. A safe stand for the boat was provided by the university's rowing club. Its new building is used by university teams including the famous Blueteam celebrating its victory over Cambridge this year. The rowing clubs of each of the 20 universities and colleges have their own buildings. In each of them around 200 athletes go in for rowing regularly. This is roughly the same case for Cambridge. Thus, only the two largest British universities recruit 8000 rowing athletes! It is worth noting that this is true without any assistance programs for students involved in sports, without even a hint of their exemption from tuition fee!
Thanks to the hospitality of the university club, our athletes did not have to spend the night in the boat, safeguarding it. They were able to fully enjoy a nice dinner and stay at the hotel. But the main result of the day was the arrival of the crew in Oxford preliminary calculation of the route proved realistic.
It is appropriate to make an important reservation here. When preparing the route, our athletes were guided by a web site created by four Englishmen who, some time ago, overcame the route from Lechlade to Richmond in... 5 days. This being said, their sciff was equipped with a third pair of oars, and during their trip the Britons swapped places with the coxswain (by analogy with the passage of Tour de Leman). Limited time for completion of the route, due to holidays, made A. Konovalov and D. Markelov cover longer distances every day. As a result, the planned route suggested four nearly equal segments with overnight stops in Oxford, Reading and Windsor and ... by assessment of local experts, including the owner of the boat, looked absolutely impossible. For the recognition of our athletes experienced some doubt themselves. By the confession of our athletes, they experienced some doubts themselves. The first day of the tour substantially reduced level of fear in the absence of the excesses of the weather, damages or injuries of the crew members, they had every chance to complete the route in the planned time.
However, there was the second the most difficult day of the trip ahead. It was planned to cover 58 km on that day. Having started at 10.00 and having passed multiple locks when leaving Oxford, the ERC crew soon reached the town of Abington, in which the famous private school for boys is located. It is famous both for its eight, regularly winning the Henley Regatta School Cup, and its graduates prime ministers, millionaires, writers, etc. including the iconic band Radiohead in its entirety. It is interesting whether these two attributes of the institution are related - a strong eight and powerful graduates?
The Thames, meanwhile, became noticeably wider, but was still patriarchally quiet and desolate. It is still not that many settlements along the banks here more or less large towns are Coolham, Dorchester, Wallingford and Goring. The section of the river, on which Wallingford (our club four beat its club team in the finals of the Reading town regatta in 2009) is located, can be considered the most adapted for rowing all over the Thames its length limited by the locks is about 10 km consisting of large, direct and sufficiently broad sections.
Here it is worth to make another deviation about rowing in England. Yes, the opportunity to row all year round on the river that never freezes is a significant competitive advantage. But regarding comfort for this activity, there are some reservations. All the Thames, as already mentioned, is broken in fairly short intervals by locks. Rowing clubs have access to suitable for training and racing waters not exceeding 6km; predominantly - from 2 to 4. Straight segments are generally not more than 500-700m; at all regattas held on the Thames, except HRR, where the distance does not exceed 1,000m, often - with turns. On other rivers conditions are even worse: all Cambridge teams, except the main eight who trains at a lake located in 6km from the place of their residence and study, row on a rivulet called Kem on a twisting segment of about 1.5km long and 20 meters wide, cluttered with parked boats and partitioned with narrow spans of the bridges... In York rowers get on the water directly from the embankment folding the stroke oars along the side; the distance at a traditional city regatta has a turn which is almost impossible to negotiate. A considerable part of London clubs located in the intertidal part of the river which provides incredible feelings to those who have managed to get into a strong current. Finally, the majority of the year-round season offers rowing at temperatures from 0 to 10 degrees, often in strong winds, rain or snow; in the early morning in total darkness. This is all to the fact that regular training in our sport in such conditions, especially at the level of high performance sport, requires serious motivation and self-discipline; British successes in rowing do not fall from the sky. Without denying the objective difficulties with access to the water in St. Petersburg - from wind and waves, the distance from rowing clubs to athletes' homes, to water taxis and outright bastards on aquabikes, we have to admit - the conditions for rowing in our city as a whole are n o w o r s e than in the UK. Perhaps the key factor which is lacking is the absence of the habit and culture typical for all rowing nations - to train early in the morning, i.e. use this option to solve many technical problems.
...Part of the motivation for our athletes that day was an opportunity to once again reach a safe place to park the boat and let the entire crew spend a comfortable night in a hotel. There were two possibilities for this to get to Henley, where we could make use of the hospitality of the club Upper Thames, or a little closer to Wargrave village where the house of Gavin, the boat owner, was. Ultimately, after spending a half hour agonizing over the poorly operating Caversham lock in Reading and rowing under the dense rain by the end of the day, setting a personal record of speed (1 km in 6 minutes 5 seconds), having covered 68 km of water surface in 8.5 hours of rowing, in complete darkness, the athletes reached Shiplake lock behind which, in a scenic location, long-awaited home hid. This day proved to be decisive - most of the distance and locks were left behind, we managed to avoid serious injuries and maintain strength for the rest of the way. After spending the night in Oxford for the last time, the crew relocated to Windsor - the next point of the day route.
On the third day of the tour (40 km, 10 locks, 5 hours of rowing ), the crew gave themselves some breathing room. Wisely abandoning overfulfilment of the day plan, the athletes quietly reached Windsor, indulging in the pleasures of seeing Leander Club at Henley, having a leisurely ride on the distance of the Royal Regatta, on which the installation of marking had already been begun, having lunch at the riverside restaurant Complete Angler in Marlow, hometown of Steven Redgrave, drinking tea in the park Maidenhead and generally admiring, perhaps, the most beautiful part of the Thames. For A. Konovalov, the day ended with a full romance in the form of overnight stay in the boat parked at the bridge near Windsor Eton College Rowing Club under the rain. According to the scant information received from the chairman of the Board, the night duty was carried out stoically. The main problem were swans screaming all night long. The rowing master managed to brighten up the fight with them, in almost complete assimilation to Harris from the book of Jerome Jerome, with a bottle of Baileys liqueur and cigars.
The ERC athletes began the last yomp to London at 6 am on May 12. The riverside landscape has changed dramatically - almost all the strands are built up, settlements follow one after the other, the traffic on the river became very intense. Fortunately, neither the increased width of the river, no motorized vessels adversely affected rowing of our crew - the weather was perfect for the first time in 4 days, and we can only envy to the British culture of behavior on the water. Moving fast enough towards the final point of the trip, the athletes passed Old Windsor lock, and soon, one of the main attractions of the Thames Magna Carta island, where, according to a legend, King John of England June 15, 1215 g was forced to approve the Magna Carta an agreement which, for the first time in history, formed the basis for representative democracy. 4km beyond this attraction, there is another London stone, a stone, preserved, according to a tradition, since the days of the Roman presence.
Number of rowing clubs and training teams grew as we approached London exponentially. Novice teams, masters teams, teams of masters and novices (there are people who make their first steps in rowing in old age), and, of course, an abundance of training crews, - teams preparing to compete, i.e. active athletes. Half a dozen "brothers" - sciff boats, looking no less picturesque than «Frank», but clearly inferior to him in speed, were met on the way. The Thames slowly and majestically entered into its main residence - London.
The last point of rest on the way of our rowers was the London club Molesey, from which the ERC team rented a four scull named Jacobs Solicitors for participating in the Henley Regatta 2 years ago (the cacophonous to the Russian ear name of the boat actually means professional identity - solicitors are one of the two categories of practicing lawyers in the UK). Here they had the opportunity to once again confirm the earlier observation - almost all British rowing clubs (except Leander) are equipped exceptionally modestly. Typically, it is a two-storey concrete building with a boathouse stuffed with boats on the ground floor, and a small gym, locker room and mandatory room for communication on the first. Some of the clubs (probably the oldest and not too prosperous) represent a small wooden shed and a rack with boats outside. Nevertheless, all clubs are full of life; in each of them, a friendly family atmosphere, club patriotism and sincere loyalty to rowing catch the eye. Needless to say that almost all the British met by our travelers - whether on the water or ashore, and in particular lock operators - have been exceptionally friendly, welcomed athletes and wished a happy journey.
After the club final route points followed: Hampton Court Bridge, Kingston Bridge (in this section of the Thames, the eight of SPSU won the sprint regatta beating principal rivals from the University of Oxford Brooks in 2011), the last of 42 passed locks - Barge lock, and Twickenham Stadium. The last 2.5 kilometers of the way separated it from Richmond Bridge, near which the Richmond boat centre perched itself, a vintage boats hire, where the team had to return «Frank» to the owner. Despite a detour of a couple of kilometers (the first attempt to find the boat station failed), the ERC rowers completed the 200-kilometer distance noticeably ahead of the schedule and had to wait for Gavin's arrival until the previously agreed hour whiling away time at a riverside restaurant over traditional English fish'n'chips and pimms. During a half hour of waiting the boat moored to the quay had to be re-fastened twice so fast the water rises in the Thames. On the final day a total of 44 km and 10 locks were covered in 5.5 hours of rowing. Our athletes spent a total of 25 hours of net time under oars on the entire way along the Thames.
Almost tearfully having said goodbye to the old friend "Frank" loaded on a trailer for the trip home in Wargrave, in the end, the conquerors of the Thames paid a visit to the famous Tideway Scullers Club located nearby, where the London Games bronze medalist Allan Campbell were trained, however, not so much for paying respect, as for the opportunity to use their changing room and shower. The finish of the 4-day (it is quite possible record-breaking) passage took place without applause; as a consolation prize, a 3-hour journey through London traffic jams to the O2 Arena and the final of Euroleague Basketball were waiting ahead for our athletes. The main prize - a touch to the cradle of rowing, symbol of our sport - the ERC messengers were carrying away with them in their hearts. And not just carrying away and not somewhere else - on the banks of the Neva, with the hope to revive this culture in their hometown and ready to contribute to this revival at their best.
Start of the season
The ERC club eight starts the city rowing season with a victory
June 2, St. Petersburg
The men's eights race in the competition of Yuri Tyukalov, for the second consecutive year organized by the club "Znamya", was explicitly considered as the culmination of the event, especially because the club eight of the organizers had seriously prepared for the season and hoped to start it with a victory. The race took place at the sprint distance of 300 meters from the turn of the Little Neva to the mooring rafts of "Znamya". The distance owners' plans were disrupted by the team of the English rowing club which mostly kept their last year's line-up: Markelov, Vorotnikov, Yanovskiy, Andreev, Kabailov, Konovalov, Sema, Melnikov. However, there were certain problems in manning for the race - to participate in it, not only young athletes Sema and Melnikov were included in the crew, but also A.Konovalov had to row on the unusual for him stroke side. Even with this not optimal combination, the club team did not experience any problems at the distance confidently taking the lead from the start and gaining advantage with each stroke, finishing a full boat length ahead of "Znamya". The friendly nature of the race did not allow the owners to get upset too much, and the rivals warmly greeted each other on the awarding raft, which cannot be said about the behavior of judges who detected a false start by the ERC team but did not stop the race! It is pleasant to note that the second team of the English rowing club formed of masters of Petersburg rowing debuted in this race. They joined the club last winter and trained hard both ashore and on the water. This crew performed with the following line-up: D.Mitkovets, V.Mitkovets, L.Anoufriev, A.Fedorov, Paschenko, A.Davydov, A.Kabailov, A.Voronin.
Visit of the Pentachampion
5-time Olympic champion Sir Steven Redgrave paid the traditional friendly visit to St. Petersburg
June 11, St. Petersburg
Honorary co-chairman of the English rowing club Sir Steven Redgrave participated in a press conference and reception in honor of the beginning of the traditional regatta Golden Blades which is patronized by him. The illustrious champion was pleased to see the new features of the club's sports infrastructure, noted progress in its development and activities that occurred during the last year, and participated in a friendly race in Vikings on the Krestovka river. A peculiar illustration to the scale of guest's personalityof was the moment when among other crew members of the Viking he was recognized by... the British tourists on board of a passing cruise boat. The frantic cries "Redgrave! Redgrave! Look - Steve Redgrave!" echoed throughout the banks of the Krestovka for good five minutes.
This year, Sir Steven chose to refrain from participating in the race explaining this by the fact that he had begun to "exercise less" (according to some sources, he changed the type of rowing and now prefers kayaking, but obviously the volume of his training has not decreased). Despite this, the visit of the high guest, the legend of the world sport, once again became an ornament to the traditional regatta in St. Petersburg. The English Rowing Club counts on the active participation of its honorary co-chair in the program of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the club in June 2014.
Different racing lanes
The English Rowing Club eight was defeated in the finals of the traditional Golden Blades Regatta
June 12, St. Petersburg
This second Golden Blades Regatta held on the Kronverka river near the walls of the Peter and Paul fortress became a real sports festival for the city. The competition organizers had taken into account the shortcomings and mistakes of the past year and offered a perfect infrastructure adjacent to the distance including a substantial expansion of seats covered with a roof in case last year's terrible weather returns this year. However, the weather throughout the day was gorgeous, which increased the number of spectators attending the regatta by several times. Leisure for children and adults, the museum of rowing, competitions on rowing machines for all comers were superbly organized. Undoubtedly, the broad representation of members of the Russian national team substantially raised the level of competition. For the first time, the guest of the regatta became a foreign club crew – the men’s four of Mosman Club from faraway Australia. It is worth noting that there also was actually the first club team from Russia - the legendary masters community of Moscow Dynamo was represented by the men’s four - participating in the event. In short, at times, by the number of spectators on the banks, racing excitement and hype, the atmosphere in the stands was quite comparable to that of the Royal Henley Regatta, which the organizers of Golden Blades call the prototype and example. In this sense, the success of the regatta held for the second time in a renewed format was obvious.
So much bitter it was that this sports festival ended with an actual failure in the main part - the actual racing programme. Having changed the dislocation of the distance (at this time start was given down the river from Kronverksky bridge), the organizers had not coped with the calculation of strength of the current and, during the whole day, conducted the race ... providing a distinct advantage to the racing lane that was closer to the fortress. In the end, the crews which were racing on this lane won about 90 percent of all the heats. By the evening it became clear that, at all other conditions being equal, the winning lane provides an advantage of about a boat length which is colossal and unbeatable on the sprint distance of 200 meters.
As a result, already at the quarterfinal stage, stunning surprises began such as, for example, the elimination of the Russian national men's eight losing to "Znamya", defeat of singles from the national team, etc. Among the victims of the current also were the Australian guests - surely winning the semifinal race, they lost control of steering and could not finish.
This year the most prestigious prize of the competition - The Alexander Nevsky Cup - was contested by two eights from the English Rowing Club (not counting the eight of the State University which is now officially representing the Rowing Center Energy). Both of them were brought together, by lot, in one heat already at the quarterfinal stage. In the club derby, the current holders of the cup were obviously stronger, performing in the following line-up: Markelov, Vorotnikov, Yanovsky, Andreev, Konovalov, Lusyanin, Kabailov, Shulepin. It was one of the rare cases where the advantage of one of the teams could not be discounted even by the stronger current.
In the semifinals, the "good" lane was already at the disposal of the ERC team competing with their actual mates - the main eight of the State University, the rivals in last year's dramatic finale. This time the advantage of the English Rowing Club was about a boat length, which means that, at equal conditions, the winner would likely be determined by a review of the photo-finish. Nevertheless, the ERC eight reached the final and it had to defend the title competing with the club Znamya that scored two sensational victories in the first two races.
At the start of the final heat, there was a strange story with the lane replacement – at first the "advantageous" lane was meant for the reigning champions, but then, right before the start, the judge said the contrary. At this point it was already clear that the Alexander Nevsky Cup, with high probability, would acquire a new owner. That is exactly what happened - by smooth and powerful rowing, the eight of Znamya, from the first strokes, did not leave anyone, including the rivals, any chance to believe that they would lose the advantage provided by the lot. Their advantage at the finish was a little less than a boat length, i.e., again, in case of equal conditions, the spectators would see the great finale with the unpredictable outcome and photo-finish like a year ago. The bitterness of defeat was brightened up by the victories of the SPSU/Energy athletes in the student men's eights and coxless fours.
Despite the serious damage done to the regatta by the insidious Kronverka current, by the unanimous acknowledgment of the regatta participants and guests (among whom was once again renowned Sir Steven Redgrave), the competition became a wonderful and magnificent sports event promoting rowing. There is every reason to believe that, with the adjustment of the location of next year's distance, the regatta can become even more interesting and exciting sporting show.
Back in the USSR
The traditional Amber Oars Regatta took place in Trakai
June 29, Trakai
Members of the English Rowing Club Alexander Konovalov and Denis Markelov, performing together in the men's double sculls, became winners in the masters category of the prestigious international regatta Amber Oars in Lithuanian Trakai. A distance of 1000 meters on the well known to many rowers Lake Galve was covered by the athletes in 3 minutes 25 seconds. In that race, the club team was second of five boats for a long time losing a little to the double scull from Estonia and constantly increasing advantage over other competitors, and, at the last 100 meters, leapt forward by a beautiful finishing spurt. The well-organized event, a warm atmosphere and meeting of old friends at a party for masters of rowing, a beautiful summer sunset over the mirror-like surface of the lake allowed guests of the regatta to reflect on the past and have a great time. The participation of rowers from the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia in the race reminded all those times when the USSR championships and other disposeprestigious Union competitions were regularly held in Trakai.
The second eight of SPSU finished third in the program of the second day of the competition losing to rivals from China and Lithuania.
One step away from the finals again
The SPSU men's eight repeated last year's success at the Royal Henley Regatta but could not develop it
July 3-7, Henley
The SPSU men's eight, for the third time in a row, performing in the prestigious Temple Challenge Cup at the famous Henley Regatta, became considered by the organizers not only as permanent members, but also as favorites exempt from participation in qualifying races and receiving priority seeding in the draw. As in the previous year, there was a trial start at the Marlow Regatta on the Olympic distance at Dorney where they finished third. We hope that our athletes have met the expectations of the organizers confidently eliminating their rivals in the first three rounds of the competition. The team's desire to win in the semifinals was very high, and again there was a little lack of professionalism - stroke Nikita Kulenyshev slid off the thwart during the starting strokes, which, according to the laws of classics of the genre (most races at Henley are won at the start), immediately undermined hopes of ultimate success. As in previous years, the SPSU team bravely struggled to the end but could not close the gap. We hope that the experience and skills acquired will allow the University athletes to make two cherished steps to the trophy next year.
First in the city
The club teams of ERC and Energy masterfully performed in the championship of St. Petersburg excelling in the men’s sweep oar
June 12-14, St. Petersburg
In the first two days of the competition, the winners in the men’s coxless pair became sportsmen of Energy Nikita Kulenyshev and Igor Koreshkov (Victor Yanovsky and Roman Vorotnikov took silver). The SPSU/Energy team also excelled in the men’s coxless four. A.Konovalov and D.Markelov performing in the double scull, against the background of high training loads due to preparing to participate in the World Masters Games in Turin, did not get into the finals.
In the class of eights, in heavy rivalry with the second composition of SPSU/Energy team and the team of Znamya, the core team of ERC with Roman Vorotnikov on the stroke position (followed by Yanovsky, Belyaev, Konovalov, Andreev, Markelov, Shulepin, Kabailov) confidently completed the race slightly ahead of the university team taking revenge for last year's defeat which deprived the team from taking deserved "bronze" of the city championship. The recent victors of Golden Blades of the rowing club Znamya was competing with the leaders only for the first 500 meters and eventually finished third with a lag of about 10 seconds. The winners' time - 2 minutes 51 seconds - was slightly worse than in the last year which generally corresponded to slightly worse weather conditions. It is sad to note that the number of participants in the most prestigious class of the competitions decreased compared to last year, including due to breaking apart of the Maritime University team. The main eight of SPSU missed the competition in accordance with the priorities in preparation for more significant all-Russias competitions.
Under the sun of Italy
On a small lake named Lago di Candia, 40 km from Turin, masters category athletes from around the world competed for medals of the World Masters Games for 4 days
August 7-10, Turin
The World Masters Games, claiming to have the highest status among other competition of the masters category, are held once every four years, in the year following the Olympic. This year the competition was held in Italian Turin. For the first time in the history of the revived club, the ERC team participated in this masters sport celebration.
The club was represented by the club’s eight of Alexander Kabaylov , Alexei Fedorov , Leonid Anufriev, Dmitry Mitkovets, Vladimir Mitkovets, Alexei Voronin, Andrei Davydov, Dmitry Tyutin competing in categories A and C and won their first set of awards. Despite the fact that the team was third of three participants (all - from Russia) in category A , its performance can be considered quite decent for the first season, which, for most of its members, was the first season of regular training in the boat after a long break. In any case, the experience of a large sports festival was extremely interesting and useful for the masters from the banks of the Neva.
Two other representatives of the English Rowing Club Denis Markelov and Alexander Konovalov, for objective reasons, preparing for the Games far away from hometown and, consequently, following an individual programme. That was the reason for their absence in the club eight. Their performance was also generally successful, although it left, as they acknowledged, a dual impression. Performing as part of the men’s eight of Moscow Dynamo (Rudenko, Kovalev, Rozhkov, Gatsak, Ovechko, Konovalov, Sinitsyn, Markelov, cox. Morgan) in category A, they became the winners of the Games with the time of 2 minutes 54 seconds beating a strong team from the U.S. competing ... in category B.
With two other contenders - from Znamya and the English Rowing Club, they could have it out without leaving Russia and St. Petersburg. In the primary class for which the team had been preparing for six months – the double sculls in category C, a story claiming to have the title of “nasty anecdote” happened to the team. Unfortunately, the general atmosphere of celebration on the Lago di Candia (athletes from different parts of the world really gathered there, particularly impressive was the Australian landing forces) was seriously impaired by an awful organization of the competitions. The programmes of races, composition of their participants, and results all this was shown at the last minute or did not appear in any printed or electronic form. Getting the badge, without which it was impossible to get admission to the start, turned into a painful saga. But worst of all was the issue with the announcement of the start time – the announced and even repeatedly postponed time of the heats was constantly changing. Petersburg athletes were caught up in this trap – having arrived in time to the changed time of start of their semifinal announced by the time informant ... they could only stare after their rivals who had just started. As it turned out later, announced arrival time does not matter for the judges at the start of any role, and the start of the race was given as the situation evolves. As it turned out later, the announced time of a heat did not play any role for the judges at the start point, and the start of a race was given as the situation evolved. The eliminated from the finals athletes of ERC found little comfort in the form of permission to start outside of the competition on lane zero which they did finishing third out of nine finalists.
In fairness it should be noted that their defeat by Muscovites Yurchenko and Ovechko and Canadian double was unconditional with a 10-second lag. Their defeat by the same Muscovites and Italian double was also unconditional in an incomplete final in category A. Finally, in the most interesting race, performing in the Moscow eight of category C (Ovechko, Gatsak Rozhkov, Markelov, Sinitsyn, Konovalov, Yurchenko, Beknazarov, cox. Sabirov), our athletes could completely count on well earned gold leaping ahead into first place as a result of a finishing spurt. However a "crab" caught by one of the colleagues from Moscow 100 meters before the finish line deprived the Russian team of a beautiful victory - it lost three tenths of a second to the eight of Germany and fifteen hundredths to the U.S. team. Taking away from Turin three bronze and one gold of varying degrees of complexity and worth, the athletes of the English Rowing Club could consider their first official international mission accomplished with merit.
Best in the country for the first time
Athletes of Energy are Russian champions!
August 4-8, Moscow
The SPSU/Energy coxless men's four composed of Nikita Kulenyshev, Dmitry Golovin, Konstantin Belyaev, Igor Koreshkov, in a bitter struggle, won the national championship. In a dramatic final, Petersburg rowers fought to the end and snatched victory from their opponents at the very finish line. In less than 3 years of training under the guidance of coach I. Zotov following the programme organized by the Rowing Enthusiasts Association on the base of the British Rowing Club and then Rowing center Energy, the athletes have gone the way from promising juniors to the best team in the country. Already this year they had the right to represent the country at the World Cup in South Korea and did not go there only because of the continuing (including due to underfunding) position of the Russian Rowing Federationon on the representation of the country by an incomplete composition in only "promising" classes of vessels.
Team coaches had every reason to hope for success in the class of eights which remained primary for the SPSU group in the season.
However, in the last day of competition, the Petersburg students did not have enough forces left in this tense rivalry, and they had to settle for bronze, giving superiority to the eight of the national team, and silver to the cities combined team, which included members of the ERC Roman Vorotnikov and Victor Yanovsky, and two-time winner of the Golden Blades Regatta Denis Kleshnev. Nevertheless, bronze of the national championship can be seen as a step forward after last year's failure.
R. Vorotnikov and V. Yanovsky also became triumphant of the championship, albeit in a non-Olympic class. Also in a bitter struggle and also with less than a second of advantage, they won the final race in the coxed fours.
Best of Youth
The men’s eight of SPSU/Energy won the Russian under 23 championship
Nizhny Novgorod, 22-25 August
The team, performing with the following line-up: A. Dolgov, K. Chelohyan, A. Isakov, I. Charkin, won in the coxless fours. The eight of the State University (second composition) performed at the same level as in the last year took second place after their principal rivals from Lipetsk.
On the edge of the earth
The eight of St. Petersburg State University took part in the match meetings with universities in Australia and New Zealand
September 16-29, Sydney - Dunedin
As it has often been announced by the Rowing Enthusiasts Association (ALGS), the match race format with participation of Russian and foreign university teams is deemed one of the best opportunities, for both management of universities and regions and for young people themselves, to develop students' motivation for rowing. Unfortunately, Russian student rowing is not yet developed to the extent that would allow to form full and strong eights of students from one university, which doomed all previous attempts of the Russian Rowing Federation (FGSR) and ALGS to launch the match format, for example, between Moscow and St. Petersburg universities, to failure. The triumph of national rowing at the domestic Universiade in Kazan, frankly, does not reflect the real level of development of rowing in Russian universities professional athletes were playing role of students in the Russian team, while many traditional strong in rowing universities were represented by not the strongest crews. Therefore, over the years, ALGS negotiated the possibility of organizing let in the pilot version regular match races of the St. Petersburg State University eight with the strongest foreign university teams. Ground for the successful launch of the project was prepared including through annual participation of the SPSU student team in the famous Henley Regatta. Unfortunately, the organization of match meetings with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale remains a matter for the future, but in September of this year, a "breakthrough" occurred in other interesting direction. Thanks to the established friendly relationship between the ERC and the Sydney club Mosman, as well to the long-standing friendship of the English Rowing Club with the Club of the University of Otago (the eight of that university repeatedly participated in the Golden Bark University Regatta, the English Rowing Clubs provided its infrastructure for the preparation of the New Zealand student rowers to the World Cup in Kazan), in summer 2013, major agreements were reached on the timing and rules of the match meetings St. Petersburg State University - University of Sydney and St. Petersburg State University - University of Otago.
Employing the experience of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, whose compositions are traditionally reinforced for the main race of the season - Boatrace - with the best rowers from around the world, the SPSU eight also enhanced its composition, of course not with foreign stars, but with sturdy and honored people Russian champions K.Belyaev, R.Vorotnikov and V.Yanovsky joined the university club.
The whole line-up was as follows: stroke N. Kulenyshev, then D. Golovin , K. Belyaev , D. Kuznetsov , R. Vorotnikov, V. Yanovsky , A. Isakov, and I. Koreshkov . Thus, there were six reigning champions of Russia and one winner of the youth championship in our eight. Nevertheless , such a representative composition would be properly called experimental – at least because the team did not have a coxswain on the tour of a number of reasons, Dmitry Kuznetsov tried his hand on the starboard, and most importantly - a new combination of the team did not train long enough.
The travel schedule implied a week stay in both Australia and New Zealand combined with training, racing, and cultural programme. Actually the racing programme implied three races within each of the matches - a sprint, a marathon and a classic two-kilometer distance with prizes for the results of each of the stages and the overall standings of the general classification. The overall winner was determined by means of a complicated scoring system where scores were given for every tenth of a second of advantage gained by one of the teams over the other. The shorter the distance, the higher the price that was set for each tenth of a second. Such a system , as the organizers decided, was designed to encourage participants to cover the distance struggling from start to finish.
The base for the stay in Australia was the already mentioned rowing club Mosman - the only club in the North part of Sydney and one of the oldest in the country (a more detailed story about it is in the article "Rowing on the Green continent" in last year's almanac) . Thanks to the hospitality and organizational efforts of club captain Peter Spasojevic and one of its honorary members, Judge Mark Williams the St.Petersburg athletes received an excellent opportunity for training, unique competition experience and thrills of visiting this wonderful country. The receiving party did everything possible to give the guests from St. Petersburg maximum impressions and information about the nature, culture and traditions of Australian rowing.
The first type of programme was tne super sprint. It was held in the format of a regatta involving not only rivals in the match, but also a number of other teams from Sydney. By their own aknowledgment, the Australian organizers of the match were inspired by vivid impressions of the Golden Blades Regatta in St. Petersburg where they were guests in June of this year. Not by accident, the Sydney sprint was organized in the cult place of the city, and, possibly, of the whole of Australia - Darling Harbour with a magnificent bridge, skyscrapers, and the famous Sydney Opera House. The more pleasant it is to write in the chronicle of the team the information on the victory of Petersburg students, who defeated all their rivals in a tense struggle including the main rival - the team of the University of Sydney, in this sprint.
The following two types - 6-kilometer marathon and closing 2-kilometer race - were also held at notable places - on a picturesque stretch of the Yara river and the Olympic track at Lake Penrith respectively. Unfortunately, luck in both these races turned away from the St. Petersburg State University team - losing both starts, the team lost in the overall standings of the general classification. The winner of the first match was declared the University of Sydney.
The Australians are cheerful and friendly people wonderfully easy combining love for sports and pleasant pastime. However, the guests from St. Petersburg could not employ this hospitality to the fullest as they had even more difficult part of the programme ahead with long flights, workouts and three races in New Zealand.
To begin with, the St. Petersburg team went to the headquarters of the University of Otago in Dunedin, which Wikipedia reports the most remote city from Moscow (and, consequently, from Saint-Petersburg) on the planet. However, apart from fur seals, king albatrosses and penguins, here on the edge of the Earth, rowers quite successful live here also. The University of Otago, one of the largest in New Zealand and Oceania , steadily and regularly prepares elite level athletes including national champions and members of the national team. Head coach of the university rowing club Glen Sinclair, a former good lightweight rower himself, has been successfully working at his post for a long time. Thanks to his activity, the management of Otago University approved the idea of the match meeting and did everything necessary for its organization. In addition to racing in Dunedin, rivals had to compete in other regions of the country including the famous Lake Karapiro.
The result of the match meeting turned out both similar and opposite for the SPSU team. As in Australia, the Russian students lost two long-distance races and excelled in the 500-meter sprint, but, in contrast with the first match, it was enough for the overall victory! Having finished a second behind at the 2-kilometer and three seconds behind at the 5-kilometer distance, the St. Petersburg team employed their speed advantage at the 500-meter distance winning 1.8 seconds, and were able to bypass the opponent by the total amount of points. The honorary prize for winning the match was taken home by the St. Petersburg team.
However, the other result of the races should be still considered as primary - the revealed interest of both Russian and foreign athletes and functionaries to a similar format of interaction, and agreements reached on the return matches to be held next year - in June at the Golden Blades Regatta against the Australians and in the fall - against the New Zealanders.
Contrary to not based on reality philistine judgments, the cost of organization of such match meetings is not prohibitive. When organizing the match meetings, ALGS (the Rowing Enthusiasts Association) originally proposed the scheme: transportation costs paid by guests + accommodation, meals and visit programme paid by hosts, which was generally adheared to in both matches and will be used in the future. Ticket prices, even to such a distant corner of the globe, with advance booking, may also be acceptable. Thus, the main difficulty in such projects are a long and tiring for athletes flight and organizational issues, but it is a matter of choice and preference - to get new experience and racing skills, albeit with certain efforts and sacrifices, or to sit around complaining about the fate.
The English Rowing Club congratulates the team of the St. Petersburg State University on a decent performance against the strong foreign university teams and expresses gratitude to the coaches, organizers of matches, and club director Maria Korobova for the excellent assistance and support of the Russian team's visit.
Beginning of an era?
Legendary Mike Spraklen started to work in Russia. 3 trainees of the English Rowing Club are among his wards
October 19-20, Rostov-on-Don
Qualifying rounds consisting of a 4-kilometer race on the water and 6-kilometer race on the rowing ergometer were held in Rostov. Their goal was not only to identify the strongest candidates for the national team of Russia, but also - for the first time in the history of rowing - the formation of a men's sweep oar group of 20 athletes that will train under the guidance of the famous British coach Mike Spracklen. In his track record, there is successful work with the teams from the UK and (in the last decade) Canada, dozens of Olympics medals and world championships won by his wards including the first two Olympic gold of Steven Redgrave, i.e. the beginning and, in a sense, the foundation of the magnificent "Golden Era" of British rowing, which Sir Steven describes in his autobiography, and which, as we know, continues to this day. Spracklen's work in Russia became possible only because of the intermediary role of Redgrave as well as consultations and organizational participation carried out by the Rowing Enthusiasts Association. Having selected the best, from his point of view, athletes on the totality of their capabilities in the boat and functional build-up, Spraklen is going to start to work with them in Erba, northern Italy, from early November.
The English Rowing Club enthusiastically announces that among the top 20 Russian athletes who have a unique opportunity to begin a new era in national rowing were three trainees of the club who had been participating in its programmes in recent years. Among them, the club notes Dmitry Kuznetsov – a participant of the St. Petersburg State University eight project from the very beginning, the permanent stroke of the team during its first two seasons. Alexander Golovin, a trainee of Magnitogorsk rowing, with his fate, largely personifies the ideology of ALGS (Rowing Enthusiasts Association), which it tried to implement all these years - competent selection and creation of conditions for the formation of strong crews with the participation of athletes from different regions. Finally, Konstantin Belyaev, St.Petersburg athlete who had been trained by N. Vasilev for several years. He joined the team only during the last season, but has significantly contributed to its velocity.
In the qualifying rounds on the water, two trainees of the club N. Kulenyshev and I. Koreshkov performed very well and took 4th place (the best among all teams from St.Petersburg), but were unable to get on the coveted list of twenty because of their traditionally weak spot the rowing ergometer. The same applies to Alexander Isakov who generally had a good season in pair with D. Kuznetsov. He took 6th place in the 4-kilometer race. We are sure these athletes have a bright future ahead.
Athletes from the Krestovka banks closed the rowing season with a traditional club championship
October 19, St. Petersburg
The competition was again held at the ultrashort distance along Bezymyanniy (Nameless) island in front of the British rowing club. Even at this closed from winds and usually impeccably calm distance, that day there were half-meter high waves - so strong was the gale. Start of the competition had to be postponed for two hours, which the participants of the championship spent in a warm atmosphere of the saloon commemorating the 90th jubilee of the veteran of the sport Mikhail Bobrov. Apart from him, the closing of the club season was attended by another famous athlete and an honorary citizen of St. Petersburg - the first domestic Olympic champion YuryTyukalov and speaker of the city parliament Mr. Makarov.
The winner in the fast race with separate start in singles for the first time became chairman of the club A.Konovalov. Another member of all four championships of the revived club, E.Andreev finished second. A.Kabaylov came third, A.Fedorov and L.Anufriev finished after him.