We're going to be sitting in our usual spot overlooking the podium at Karapiro for the 2019 New Zealand Secondary School Championships. Be sure to visit us and use the code words 'Surge Ahead' to get yourself a free SL Racing cap!
After returning to the top of the podium at Nationals this year, our great friend Emma Twigg sat down with SL Racing to chat about rowing, life, and why she is getting back in the boat for Tokyo 2020.
What got you into rowing? My brother started rowing after watching Rob Waddell win a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Dad coached him and after a year of watching the fun that he had at the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, I decided with some encouragement from both of them that I would give it a go. I have always been very competitive, so I found it hard when I was an average novice. I was convinced to carry on because of my build, and eventually my competitiveness became an advantage.
What's your favourite session? I love a long U2 row, when the boat is feeling light and the water is pristine. Nothing beats the feeling of the boat and your body working hard in a session like this.
How do you prepare for a race? My preparation for a race is done month's in advance. The training that we do daily prepares us the best, but on race day I have a very specific routine that involves a pre-row, breakfast, packing my bag to race, chilling to music and getting on my bike to get to the course to warm up. This is something that I have done for many years now. I like to work backwards from the start of the race to plan exactly what time I will start to warm up, eat, chill etc.
Whose been your favourite person to race against? Kim Brennan would have to be my favourite competitor. Our rivalry in 2013/14 was a memorable time in my career. She is a phenomenal athlete and set a very high standard.
What do you look for in a boat? I like a boat that is responsive, feels light, sits up well, is balanced and looks slick.
What's your favourite part about racing an SLR? Simon has done a great job of building a boat specific to my needs. His eye for how any boat travels through the water is one of the best in the business. What I like about the SLR is my ability to keep my rating up, and be efficient throughout the whole race. I feel like I am sitting up on top of the boat rather than down inside it, and the quality of the product is awesome. SLR has come a long way since the first single I rowed in, and I now feel like this single is of a quality that would be competitive internationally.
Do you have a favourite/most memorable race? What is it? Most memorable race would have to be competing in front of a home crowd and winning a bronze medal at the Karapiro World Champs in 2010. I will never forget the thunder of the crowd stomping on the temporary grandstand in the last 250m.
Why did you make a comeback this year? After time away from the sport, and a little bit of perspective, I realised that it is a real privilege to be able to be working towards being the best in the world at something. This is a gift that I would like to make the most of while my body and mind is still willing. I hope that my return to rowing will inspire others and I will be able to make the most of my profile in sport positively while I can.
What's the secret to happiness? Enjoying what you do every day, enjoying the process and surrounding yourself by people that make you laugh, inspire you and exude positivity.
Any advice for a young person sitting in high school (other than row an SLR!)? Don’t be in a hurry to be at the top of your game. Good things take time, the people you meet, friends you make and experiences you have along the way are far more rewarding than any medal or prize at the end of it.
From humble beginnings Our little sport goes a long way back. Forgetting the ancient greek and romans slogging it across oceans, the first 'modern' rowing races were still raced three centuries ago. As far back as 1715 ferry and taxi boat rowers competed for wager races offered by the London Guilds and LIvery Companies or wealthy owners of riverside houses.
Ox-bridge - a tradition is born In 1829 two former schoolfriends studying at Oxford and Cambridge started the Oxford and Cambridge race with the first challenge letter reading:
"The University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London each in an eight-oar boat during the Easter vacation. W Snow, St John's College."
It's a star studded sport A few 'celebrities' have picked up an oar in their time including: Anderson Cooper (Yale), Stephen Hawking (Oxford), Edward Norton (Yale), Gregory Peck (Cal Berkeley), Teddy Roosevelt (Harvard), Bradley Cooper (Georgetown) and Hugh Laurie (Cambridge).
Ducks cross here At the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam Henry Pearce won gold in the single sculls while stopping to allowin a family of ducks to cross his lane.
One lucky lad We've all had a cox who loved a big breaky - but the 1900 Holland’s coxed pair cox should've skipped a few weetbix - being too heavy to race the final. Without many other options, the pair convinced a 12-year-old local boy to step in. Amazingly, they went on to win gold.
Maybe a little elitist In 1919 an American (JB Kelly) wasn't allowed to compete because he was once a bricklayer and manual labourers were barred from racing. Kelly had the last laugh though, going on to win two gold medals at the next year's Antwerp Olympics.
With World Champs quite late in the year in 2018, it seems like we’ve just finished watching the international season and it’s already time to start gearing up for the domestic season in New Zealand and Australia. As the temperatures rise and daylight hours start to kick in – here are our top tips for getting back into the swing of things this rowing season.
It’s easier together If you’ve had a winter of hibernation, it’s always a hard ask getting motivated for early starts or multiple training sessions. There aren’t many of us out there who jump at the chance to punish their body at five am, so for most of us, having someone else sharing in that transition will make it a lot easier. Find yourself a training partner, or even better get your whole squad back together and make sure you hold each other accountable! A crew that trains together, wins together.
You don’t have to be winning on day one If you’ve ever watched some of our top rowers like Mahe Drysdale progress through the season, you’ll see that they know that it’s not about winning every race – it’s about winning the one that counts. When you first hop on the erg this year, don’t expect to be doing PB numbers, and don’t punish yourself for not doing them. Ease into the season. Those first few rows don’t have to be the longest you’ve ever done, and you don’t have to jump straight into your best form either. Think about that National’s medal, and build up to that end result.
Look after yourself Early season injuries are definitely a thing, so make sure you are looking after your body from day one. If you haven’t been in the boat a while you might have tight hamstrings or a bit of a weak core, so getting out and slamming yourself on day one could lead to injuries later in the season. Stretch, do some core work, and be sure to focus on your eating and recovery for those first few weeks. A rowing career without injury is a rowing career that let’s you get closer to the top – so look after your engine.
Have fun Lastly, if you follow those first few tips, then hopefully this final one will come naturally. Have fun! It’s been a cold winter and you haven’t touched an oar for a while so on those first few rows be mindful and take it all in. We’ve got a sport that gets us outdoors in some beautiful places, so appreciate every minute of it. Listen to the water run under the boat, take the time to look at that sunrise, and have a laugh with your crew. You’re not just getting fitter and racing hard, you’re creating friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
SL Racing is a small and growing business based in Hawkes Bay, dedicated to producing high quality rowing skiffs, and we are in need of someone to help us take care of our customer base.
The main objective of this position is to provide the highest standard of customer service and support to our valued customers including sales and after sales support.
This is a part time position with flexible hours and the ability to work from anywhere in New Zealand. The role does involve some travel as you will be required to visit customers, attend regattas over the Summer and visit our workshop in Napier once a month.
Pay will be discussed with each applicant.
The right person for this role would be trustworthy, reliable, passionate about rowing and great with people.
Managing current customer relationships and approaching new customers both domestically and internationally
Responding to customer enquiries in a timely and accurate manner
Attending regattas and visiting customers as required.
Regular communication with the owner/operators including visits to the Napier workshop
The applicant must have good knowledge of rowing.
Customer service or similar experience/skills
Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
With Robbie Manson locking in the single scull spot for New Zealand at the most recent Rowing World Cup, the rowing world’s attention has turned to Mahe Drysdale and what his next move will be. Straight after the World Cup final, Mahe made it clear that he was keen to move into another boat for the upcoming World Champs, before contesting the single again next year. With that the hot topic of conversation at the moment, we thought we’d take a quick look at boat specialisation, what it means, and whether jumping into a new boat combo close to an event is something that can be done easily.
For most Club and School rowers, boat specialisation is something of a luxury. During the season you’ll end up jumping from boat to boat, combination to combination, and racing multiple events in a day or in a regatta. Even at Nationals it’s pretty normal to race two or three events. At our local pinnacle events, you won’t see too many people specialising in just one boat or combination. However, when you hit the international scene, where rowers have to perform at their peak and race results can come down to millimetres (can you remember that Rio men’s single?!)…boat specialisation is the norm. The top rowers tend to be the most skillful and able to switch between boats, but at that elite level it’s rare to see anyone doubling up in any combination, and most countries like to have their boats selected months in advance of the big races.
The benefits to specialisation in one boat class are pretty clear. For a single sculler it’s pretty crucial – races are won and lost on how well a sculler can move their boat, and how well they can push without any other motivation around them. For crew boats, the longer you row with someone, the more likely it is you are to get in sync – particularly when the pressure comes on. So the question is – why don’t we all specialise in one boat to hit the top of our game at Nationals? The answer to that is probably that as a Club or School rower, you really don’t want to become a one trick pony. If you want to hit the top of your rowing game, at some point you’ll need to row with someone else, and you’ll need to make that new combination work. An eight gives you different boat feel to a pair, just like a quad can help your speed in a single. Behind the scenes even those rowers with the highest level of specialisation will still hop into other boats to help them with their own feel and technique – the big difference is, they tend to have one shot every four years to pull off the biggest race of their lives…so the more time they can get in their target boat, the better. Which brings us back to a last minute crew change or boat change. It’s fair to say, that’s not an ideal scenario. Changing boats or combinations the day or week before a big race is probably going to have a detrimental effect in that the boat isn’t likely to come together as well as it could with more time under it’s belt. That said, what Mahe is looking at doing has a much longer lead in time than that – and he is a seasoned campaigner who will be able to slot into a combination in a month and make it hum. Rowing New Zealand will likely look at two things – will putting him in a boat have a positive long term result for that boat, and/or will putting him in a boat increase it’s chances of doing well (and ultimately securing more funding for the sport). That’s not a decision we’re equipped to make, but watch this space as there are sure to be some ding dong battles as rowers fight to keep their seat from the old campaigner wanting to slot in for this World Champs!
It’s World Cup time now in Europe and the New Zealand crews are getting into the action. We’re huge fans of the sport as well as boat builders, so that means when it comes time for these big international races, we’re not just watching for the love of rowing, we’re also keeping a keen eye on how the boats and crews are racing. Here’s what we are looking at when any boat is coming down the course.
Is that a bounce? One of the most obvious things to pick up from the river bank or on the TV is how a hull moves through the water. Is the bow pushing much too deep into the water line? Does it surge up high out of the water at the catch? Can you see the stern ‘stopping’ each stroke as the blades enter the water. To us, these are big indicators of how well a crew is suited to a boat and how well that boat is flowing through the race. Ideally we want to see the boat moving reasonably smooth and level through the water. There will always be a bit of ‘bounce’ to a stroke, but any big movement up, down or backwards is all energy that isn’t moving forwards.
Where is the waterline? Again, this can be pretty easy to spot, and it’s a sure fire way to tell if a boat is too big or too small for a rower. At the top level you’re unlikely to see someone getting it completely wrong, but at regional level you’ll see plenty of boats with the water line almost slopping into the boat, or the hull sitting so high out of the water it may as well be a hovercraft!
How’s that stroke rate? A lot can be told by a rower and their stroke rate. A light gearing can see a rower spinning the wheels down the course, while a heavy gearing might see them drop the rating a few strokes. The key here tends to be how that gearing relates to their race speed at the start, in the middle, and at the end of the race. If there is a noticeable drop-off in speed towards the end of the race, maybe that gearing could be a little heavy.
Overall impressions These are just a few of the things we keep an eye on in the boat. There are a ton of aspects we haven’t got to in this blog – like whether a rower is setup too far forward or back in the boat, what their boat looks like compared to the conditions, or how their blades enter and exit the water. In such a simple sport there are a huge amount of little technicalities that you can zoom in on to see what’s happening in a rower’s race. That’s why we love that racing time of year!
When it comes time to hire a new employee, business owners will scour CV’s and make gut decisions on who they are hiring based on how good someone looks on paper. In this month’s blog post we let every HR person out there in on a little shortcut to choosing a great employee – if you see rowing on that CV, you’re onto a winner. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but here are a few reasons why hiring a rower is a fantastic idea:
They know commitment Rowers are a different breed when it comes to sticking things through. While some sports will have you down for a midweek training and a weekend game, rowers slog it out 6 days a week no matter what level they race at. As a top level rower, 12+ sessions a week is a pretty normal thing… so they know what it takes to work their ass off and remain committed to an end goal.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork There is nothing quite like joining a rowing crew to really understand teamwork and putting it all on the line for the person next to you. A fast boat is one that literally moves together in one motion, and the best crews tend to be the ones that spend the most time in each other’s pockets. You get to know your crewmates through thick and thin – understanding teamwork more than any workplace will teach you.
Healthy people are productive people A fit body leads to a fit mind and rowers are some of the fittest people you’ll ever meet. They’re usually pretty conscious of what is going into their bodies as well, so you’ll have a sharp worker that gets sick less.
Rowers know how to push Anyone whose been in a rowing boat and trained properly knows exactly what hard work is. They understand that to get a result, you need to put in the hours. A slack rower doesn’t last the distance, so if you’re after someone whose done 5am starts and knows how to grind – look no further than a rower. Time is of the essence Sometimes working smarter can be more important than working harder, and time management skills are definitely something rowers bring to the table. Whether they’ve been studying or working through their rowing careers, they’ve had to not only do the work/study and socialising of their peers, but also fit in a couple of training sessions and recovery each day. They are masters of time management and doing things the smart way.
We’re sure every rower out there could add to that list, but the above traits certainly make the basis for a great employee. What do you reckon? Do rowers make the best employees out there, or are we looking at this through carbon tinted glasses?!