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2015 Australian Boat Race – Men’s Eights -a Coach Perspective

SUBC Men’s eight cross to the southern bank as they race past the boatsheds on the Yarra ABR 25th Oct 2015

The Australian Boat Race is an event SUBC look forward to every year. With only a fifty percent winning record on the Yarra since the race’s re-creation in 2010, I was nervous as a coach, knowing how much it means to MUBC to impress on their home turf. The men’s race went to another level in 2013 with clashing oars and an extremely tight battle for most of the race. In 2011, the lead changed a number of times and Melbourne came home very strong in final stages to only just miss out. So for us, we were going into this year’s race not taking anything for granted and using the first few days to readjust to the bends and the flow. Our preparation was great but I knew with the calibre of guys in the Melbourne boat, it wasn’t going to come easy.

In what is a relatively hectic pre-race period (for domestic rowing events), the crew chat was centred around staying internal, and being gutsy – not necessarily by rowing harder per se- but by rowing well, and executing skills, and keeping form, for the whole race.

I have to say, I didn’t see the start of the race because the coverage cut out at the start line – but from what the boys have told me, it was the best start we did all week, where everything clicked, everyone was focused, and on the same page. This set up a great platform to get into the rhythm we had practiced all week, and which is normally our strength as a club. I think once the nerves settled after the start, the execution of that rhythm was spot on, set up by two really experienced guys in Cam Girdlestone and Sasha Belonogoff. For the bulk of the race, sitting in the mid to low thirties, the rhythm was consistent and set up by good pressure and intent under the water. It was pleasing to see that we never were happy or complacent with our lead and it continually stretched out over the four kilometre course. Will Raven did a great steering job and was ruthless in his demands for the guys to keep their foot on the gas. As someone who was involved in the saga that was 2013, it was extremely satisfying to dominate the way we did this year. It is something that sticks with you for a while – win or lose – so it’s nice knowing we got the job done and we have some really good potential in big boats for the rest of the season.

Racing under Swan St Bridge ABR 2015

Last but certainly not least, there aren’t much better things in life than beating  our southern neighbours . (particularly on their home course)!

We look forward to next year where hopefully we can make another statement on the great Sydney Harbour, at the home of Rowing.


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