COMMONWEALTH WOE, BRITCHAMPS JUNIORS, WORLD CHAMPS IN FLORIDA July 25 2014
Why no rowing at the Commonwealth Games?
The Commonwealth Games kicked off this week in a blaze of tartan, and teams like Australia and England are licking their lips at the prospect of kicking seven bells out of some small protectorate in the South Pacific with a population consisting of three old men and a Labrador.
However, while lawn bowls is an integral part of the Commonwealth Games programme, rowing hasn’t had a look-in since the last time the Games took place in Scotland back in 1986, when only eight countries entered. Sir Steve Redgrave won in the single at that regatta and remains the reigning champion.
Why no rowing since? The sport is recognised by the Commonwealth Games Federation but is not one of the 10 “core” sports that have to be included at each Games. Why the Glasgow organising committee chose not to hold a regatta is unclear, although perhaps this memory of the last one is still haunting them.
Let’s journey back 28 years, to bow-coxed eights, wooden blades and awful mullet haircuts, and watch the near-farcical eights final at Strathclyde. After two false starts, and lots of blather from the BBC’s Des Lynam, it takes a full 23 minutes from the scheduled start time before the Welsh crew get over the finish line, with only six oarsmen on board.
The Commonwealth Rowing Championships have been held separately from the Games since 1999, and the latest incarnation will be at Strathclyde on 9 and 10 August. Keen to show that rowing doesn’t need a 2000m lake and huge teams to be successful, the organisers have restricted each team to a maximum of six men and six women – including lightweights – who will each compete in several events over 1500m and 500m.
England named their squad this week, including three rowers - Sam Courty, Tom Barras and Robbie Massey – who are currently competing for GB at the U23 World Championships.
Strathclyde Park, of course, is being used for the Games as a triathlon venue and the extensive clean-up operation required to make open-water swimming possible there has seen a chunk of the lake closed to rowers for several months!
Teams from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are also in action this weekend at the Home International Regatta in Cork. There some more info on the regatta website.
Britchamps Juniors: soggy success
Some junior crews and coaches weren’t soaked quite to the skin at the National Schools Regatta in May so they came back for more. Some didn’t enter Nat Schools so the whole concept of getting half way up to the start in sunny conditions only for the heavens to open was quite new.
Saturday afternoon’s thunderstorm damaged roads and flooded underpasses in the Nottingham area but, after a brief suspension of racing, the British Junior Championships – in its second year as a stand-alone event - got on with business as usual.
Here’s some video from the organisers to show just how wet it got.
The standard of some of the events may have been a little patchy but there was also plenty of high-quality racing, especially at J14 and J15 level. Henley RC took the Victor Ludorum with five golds and a silver medal.
As ever, the county’s top juniors were absent as they are training in GB crews ahead of the World Junior Champs in Hamburg from 6-10 August and the Coupe de la Jeunesse, a European team event, in Libourne, France from 1-3 August.
Vigour in Varese
There’s been grotty weather too in Varese, Italy, but Great Britain have made a bright start at the Under-23 World Championships, aiming to better last year's fifth place in the medal table (they won a gold, three silvers and a bronze at Linz 2013).
The finals take place on Saturday evening and on Sunday. There’s a full set of results on the World Rowing site and Rory Copus has been tweeting prolifically from the Rowing Voice account, as well as taking this lovely panoramic from the finish.
World Champs head to Florida
Mindful of all this recent rubbish weather, the 2017 World Rowing Championships will take place in South Florida from 24 September, aiming to to avoid the hurricane season, it has been announced.
The last time the Worlds took place out of their usual August slot was in 2010, when New Zealand hosted in November. The world’s best return rowers to Aiguebelette, France for the 2015 Worlds; the Netherlands get their second go in three years when Rotterdam hosts in 2016 and Plovdiv in Bulgaria will get the gig in 2018.
Carry on camping
It’s that time of year when the senior GB Rowing Team head off on training camps, adding extra speed to the competitive pace they’ve already shown this season, ahead of the World Champs at the end of August, and getting more time to update social media than they would when commuting to Caversham.
The heavyweight men are at altitude on Silvretta in Austria, where reports suggest accommodation has improved since the old days of log cabins and weight-lifting in a garage. (If you need a reminder of what altitude can do to a man, have a look at this video).
Most of the women and lightweights are putting in the miles on the Rhein in Breisach, where the lovely early views have since been shrouded by rain clouds.
View of the Rhine, aircon, wifi, single-room, sun lotion, after sun-lotion, no bells!!! Camp might not suck so bad... pic.twitter.com/jot9zGUEVW— Adam Freeman-Pask (@AdamFreemanPask) July 19, 2014
And the lightweight women’s quad – who don’t get full funding because theirs isn’t an Olympic event – have been boating out of Mortlake A&A, and seeing some sights of their own.
Our paddle this morning took us to Big Ben as it was striking 9am- good start to another day in the office GBLW4x pic.twitter.com/iLFCKr6RLJ— Brianna Stubbs (@BriannaStubbs) July 24, 2014
Now the latest episode in New Zealand's apparently barmy selections processes: She reached an Olympic final in 2012 and has won three medals at World Championships, including silver last year, but Emma Twigg is unlikely to represent her country next year, so they will have to find someone else to qualify the single for Rio 2016.
Twigg has opted to study in England, Italy and Switzerland from September to July 2015. Coincidentally that's where most of the major regattas take place but Twigg, 27, said: "At the moment Rowing NZ have said that because I'm not there over summer, I'm not part of the programme. So they won't be looking at me for selection."
Send us a selfie
Taken any good pics of yourself rowing recently? Like these?
Maybe not this one:
If you’ve snapped a decent rowing selfie, tweet it with the hashtag #rowingselfie and we’ll include the best next week.