After a full day of racing and a long drive home on Saturday, what better way to spend my Sunday than… watching more racing.
Isn’t World Rowing’s live-streaming terrific? I assumed the classic couch-slump position, glass in hand, and settled in for the evening’s feast—the European Championships, held this year in Brandenburg, Germany.
Hold on… Have the wind gods been reading my blog?
Two weeks ago, when I wrote about how rowing in a cross-wind sucks (how I do it, at least), I had thought there must be a trick to it; I must be the only rower in the universe who doesn’t know the secret to staying upright and steady, confidently carving a path through the churning swells.
I googled whole evenings away, but no secret did I find. They’re all keeping it to themselves, I figured.
Now here before my eyes, thanks to a hideous cross-headwind bellowing across the Brandenburg course, Olympians, world champions and the elite of European rowing would show me how it’s done.
Well… I wasn’t prepared for this: Men’s Single Sculls Final
Neither was I prepared for this: Women’s Single Sculls Final
What is going on here?
Everyone, tentative off the start, reminds me of me. Everyone, wobbly as all hell, reminds me of me.
Synek, slapping the waves on the recovery and rating 25 at one point (poor guy, he had the worst lane), reminds me of me.
Karsten, rowing short and very deliberate, reminds me of me. Knapkova, trailing the field, perhaps just intent on remaining afloat, reminds me of me.
Griskonis, completely missing the starting order, does not remind me of me, thankfully. But what a comeback to take the silver medal! Last year I saw him hit a buoy and take a swim in one of the World Cups. I admire his resilience.
So what did gold-medal winners Damir Martin and Magdalena Lobnig do to finish lengths ahead of their respective fields?
They seemed to go out harder; they seemed less tentative. Did their technique play a part? I don’t know. Martin also won by a huge margin at Varese a few weeks back so perhaps he struggled with the wind as much as the others.
Part of me wonders if it’s an attitude. A willingness to take the risk, given the high stakes.
Perhaps they train in atrocious conditions like this all the time, whether by choice or by necessity.
“You can only fight the way you practise.” — Miyamoto Musashi
Perhaps they were less anxious because they were better prepared.
“Anxiety lives in the space between what is required and what we are PREPARED to deliver. Anxiety is your body’s way of calling your bluff.” — Nick Winkelman
This morning I had a bit of a Brandenburger myself. The wind in the trees woke me before the alarm even went off. I could’ve turned over and slept on but the images of Lobnig, Martin, Puspura, Griskonis, Karsten, Synek were still fresh. It had to be done.
We stood at the water’s edge in the darkness for a while, peering into the blackness, listening, evaluating, but knowing we would.
We decided to take the double out instead of singles. It was hairy at times, though not as bad as Kawana! My arms began to stiffen up, though I tried to stay loose. After we’d finished our pieces, we high-fived and sat bobbing in the cross-headwind, imagining Brandenburg.