Men’s Under-23 Four World Regatta – Poland 2004
1st CRO 6:17.55, 2nd AUS 6:18.06, 3rd ESP 6:20.31, 4th ROM 6:20.64, 5th GER 6:22.74, 6th GBR 6:30.84
Bow ? Peter Winkle
2 ? Sebastian Harper
3 ? Craig Dorrstein
Str ? David Galley
After the national selection regatta in Sydney in April, Craig Dorrstein, Dave Galley, Sebastian Harper and Pete Winkle were selected to represent Australia in the Men?s four at the World U23 Championships to be held in Poznan, Poland in the second week of August. Thus began a rigorous twelve week campaign under the direction of UQ head coach of rowing, Joe Rodrigues.
Twelve weeks of hard training past and we headed off for Germany for another ten days of training with the rest of the Australian team before moving on to Poland for racing. The crew had consistently been ranked in the top two Australian boats competing and it was now time to take on the rest of the world.
We won the heat on Friday after a battle with the Croatians for a spot straight through to the final. The crew took the lead in the last 1000m with the Croatians making good chase but, unable to catch us in a sprint for the last 250m they settled for a spot in the repecharge the next day giving us a straight path through to the final on Sunday. Windy conditions made for a slow time and a very heavy race, which took it out of us, but we knew we had a day to recover and the other crews didn?t. Germany won the second heat.
Sunday came around very quickly and we were ready and fired up for the Final. After a delayed start due to a flash storm, the race got finally under way. Although we weren?t in the position we?d hoped after 250m, we still maintained our composure and stayed relaxed. The tunnel vision was in place?our boat, our crew, 2000m of water, and moving FAST!
Pete made the calls; Sebastian and Craig sat in the middle powering the boat through the water, and Dave set the pace and rhythm. 400m out and Pete called for length, we responded and clawed back, by the 600m out we were in our middle race pace at 35 strokes a minute and moving really effectively. As we approached the 1000m we know what was coming and felt ready, we were in pain, but we were ready. The call call for the push, it came and you could feel the boat accelerate as the whole crew lifted and drove the boat away with every stroke. We?d taken even more ground back and were still feeling good. 700m to go came, we had focused on this point in the race and knew that this was the time to lift, forget the pain and get aggressive?get hungry. ?It?s on! Push! GO!!?
We drove away and began our race for the finishing line. The rating pushed up to 38 strokes a minute and within no time we were in the medals?we were coming third. Germany were fading having given too much too early, Spain, Rumania and Croatia were still moving well. We hit the 500m mark to go and the crew lifted to 41 strokes a minute as we moved through the field, Rumania and Germany faded, we overtook Spain and with 250m to go we had Croatia less than two lengths away as we closed in fast.
Pete called the sprint early. We knew we had to if we were going to catch them. We lifted to 44 strokes a minute and gave it everything we had, emptying the tanks. Every stroke we took distance off the fading Croatians. With 100m to go we were within half a boat length and still clawing through them. In the final few strokes for the line the Croatians just held on, winning the gold by less than half a second. We collapsed in the boat?exhausted. We had the silver. Spain got bronze. If there had been another 20m in the race we probably would?ve won, but there wasn?t?that?s racing.
It was an outstanding race, and one that we?ll remember. We gave it everything and put ourselves out there. The race concluded the 2003/2004 season. We now look forward to a short holiday before pre-season training begins for next season.