I love to see a crew holding their position or even rowing through other crews while under-rating them. It helps me believe what I already know to be true but what sometimes feels counter-intuitive—we must stay long.
Yesterday before my eyes was the evidence. Croatian Damir Martin cruised through the M1X race at World Cup I in Varese, crushing the rest of the field. He was rating 29. Astounding.
His nearest rival, Angel Fournier Rodriguez from Cuba, rating 34, was never a threat.
In the LM2X, the O’Donovan brothers from Ireland showed great composure as they rowed their own race, steadily making ground, rating around 33, and matching the speed of crews rating 35, 36 and 37 (~900 m). (No, I am not biased at all ;-)).
The final 500 m was exciting to watch, the South African’s taking gold by a few feet from the Irish, and the Dutch taking bronze after ratcheting the rate up to 42 but really shortening up their stroke.
My favourite race of the day was the W1X—3 women, 3 inspiring performances, for 3 different reasons.
The unstoppable Ekaterina Karsten from Belarus showed that being 43 is no barrier to her getting a place on the podium, though she seemed less than exuberant with the silver medal.
The commentators had all but written off Ireland’s Sanita Puspure who hung out in the back of the pack for most of the race, rating about 30, before kicking into top gear and screaming through the last 200 m, moving from 6th position to take the bronze. Wow.
But all kudos to Canadian Carling Zeeman who made a gutsy move with 600 m to go, cranking it up to 37 and going for it (“absolutely mental” was how Martin Cross described it).
In the final stretch, Karsten and Puspure were rating 36 and 37 respectively and moving faster than Zeeman, but the Canadian was just far enough ahead to hang in there to take the gold.
Videos of all the A finals are there for you to watch, thanks to World Rowing. The camera work is fantastic. The beards alone are worth a look.
For the armchair spectator, rowing is no longer over-rated.