Sunday, October 29, 2006


Lots of regatta cancellations this past weekend: both the Head of the Fish and the Princeton Chase have cancelled parts of their regattas. The Fish cancelled their masters events, and the Princeton Chase has called off all their small boat and four events. Some full regattas have been cancelled, most notably the Head of the Schuykill in Philadelphia. The Head of the Elk in Indiana has also been cancelled.

I was at the Head of the Fish Saturday (open and junior events still went on), and the regatta committee made the proper choice in cancelling the rest of the events. Racing was done in miserable weather: a driving rain, temperatures in the mid-40's, a pretty bad breeze blowing through. By the time I got ready to launch for the Open 8+, I had been exposed to the weather for over six hours, which thoroughly diminished my enthusiasm.

It started coming back when I was bringing down the boat from the trailer, though. I knew what was going to happen: I was going to be cold, wet, and miserable from the moment we got hands on to the moment we pushed off. And then we'd start warming up, first by sixes, then by eights, taking tens on the way to the start. I'd start getting warmer. The rain would stop bothering me, or at the most it would only serve to take my mind off the shortness of breath and the onset of pain as we swung into the current. We would get to the start, spin, and I would strip down to just my uni, as cold as I was. The moment we started heading down that chute, though, any thought of the temperature or the moisture or anything else would have disappeared, 50, 100 meters behind me.

And lo and behold, it did.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Head Races?

Jesus, it's been over a month since my last post to this blog. I guess I should start getting back on it, huh?

For most of us here on the East Coast, we're knee-deep in the fall season. We all know what that means: 10+ minutes of fun and adventure. It's always a little weird shifting from sprint to head racing (and vice versa), at least to me. Every "off" season (summer or winter training), I keep thinking about the races of the previous season, even though I'm training for a completely different experience. I'm not sure why it is, why the big shift catches me so off guard.

In any case, I enjoy the fall a great amount. I think I have a better aerobic system that I do anaerobic, so I have an easier time pacing myself throughout a 5K race or a 6K time trial than I do than if I'm doing a 2000 meter sprint. Not only that, but the staggered start takes off so much pressure. Unless you're starting before some very fast crews, you usually can't judge whether or not the boat ahead of you has moved that much, if at all. And moving through a boat when you know that they started 15 seconds ahead of you is a great feeling; it makes me feel so strong to know you were able to make up a four or five length difference to pass them.

All that being said, I think it would be a very interesting change in dynamic if head races were started out head to head (no pun intended). Think about racing some of the teams you face in the spring over a 5000 meter course, battling back and forth for over twice as long as you do in the spring. There's so much more time for great moments in racing, boats battling back and forth, exchanging the lead with each stroke.

...of course, you could also face a crew that's obviously faster than you and lose by 20+ seconds.

The biggest race I can think of that happens in that format in America is the Harvard-Yale race in June; however, the entries to that race are obviously pretty limited. But there are some great stories from both that race and the Oxbridge Boat Race in England which I think could be recreated here during the fall.

That's why I like the concept of the University of Southern California's
Club National Championship race in Los Angeles on November 11. So far, the three year-old event has only hosted crews from California. But I know of a few East Coast crews which have considered racing at this event this year. Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen, but I would love the opportunity to line up against USC or California's lightweights, crews that I would otherwise never get to race.