Bumped by Christ's
After 3 years of close row-overs, FaT M2 finally falls to Christ's.
Credit to Christ's for a clinical performance. Some evasive steering on our part bought us an extra 10 strokes or so, but unfortunately we just didn't have the power to get away.
Plan for tomorrow: row over ahead of Churchill. Having sparred with them earlier in term, we know that our speeds are similar - it should be an interesting race to watch!
Shortened as we were surprised by the motorway bridge chop. Never recovered.
Bumped by Downing II
They were quicker than us. Caught at Grassy from head station.
This set of bumps has been entirely representative of the second VIII rowing this term, not good enough.
We have been improving all term, but not nearly fast enough, a poor initial result at Head 2 Head should have shown that we were behind where a second eight needed to start the term. Without rowing a lot better our result at Champs head was a definite improvement, gaining ground on many of the crews around us in bumps. We then got hammered in 99's regatta by a good Catz crew.
Our best race of the term was definitely our Met regatta race. While the start wasn't excellent, we stuck with it and rowed reasonably ending a mere half length down in 4th place.
Bumps was representative of our rowing all term. We rowed the same we had been all term and weren't fast enough. The possible exception was the decent 3 minutes on the Friday to hold off Robinson to the plough. Racing isn't an opportunity to find speed, it is the opportunity to demonstrate the speed you have already found and mastered in training
Learning involves 4 steps.
1) perform the task
2) analyse the task
3) suggest changes
4) implement the changes
Our biggest failure this term has been a failure of learning. Criticism or analysis tells you that you are doing something wrong or doing something well, it tells you that you could be better. It creates pressure to improve, but it can also damage confidence and morale. Criticising people who are down because they know they are doing badly is difficult, if you are in a bad mood and under pressure you are less likely to respond objectively. Working out what is wrong then relies upon a plan to change it. Finally we need to implement the plan.
I feel it is better to analyse and look to improve, which will generate better morale, than to take the easy option of being relaxed with the criticism and hoping morale improvements will benefit the rowing. I think we erred on the side of muted criticism and paid for it in reduced levels of improvement.
Problems which I don't feel we addressed:
1) Multiple rowing styles. I don't think we were moving together either during the drive or on the recovery. I never felt we knew what we were looking for in terms of a unified way of rowing, despite many terms of rowing for the same club, and in many cases for the same crew. I think we had identified the problem, but didn't come up with any workable solutions.
2) Acceleration through the drive. This was identified and we did work to suggest changes and it did improve, but was never cemented in and I think at race pressure we went back to tanking the boat around the catch. I think here we failed to implement the change properly as a crew despite really attempting to address the problem.
3) Stability on the recovery. Probably linked to the lack of uniform rowing styles, but I felt all term that I had no clue how the boat was going to change after 1/2 slide. Not everyone in the boat even agreed we were suffering this problem, which I frankly just don't understand. I accept that finishing badly causes the boat to recover poorly, but that doesn't mean that all poor recoveries are caused by bad finishes, which seemed to be the belief in the boat. I think here our analysis was flawed meaning we never looked to suggest a solution.
4) Length means getting yourself to the front. No, it means you trying to be controlled coming forward so everyone else can get as far forward as possible, making it difficult for 7 other people will have more effect than the extra speed you as an individual can generate. I have always thought of length as the attempt to be the last person to the front and the first to put the blade in the water. A demonstration that implementation relies upon a consensus between rowers, coaches and cox on what they are looking for, which I don't think was achieved.
5) Pressure solves everything. No. It doesn't. It is helpful and makes you faster, but doesn't mean you aren't slowing the boat on the recovery.
6) Race preparation. We race regularly, unfortunately we seemed to treat this as a requirement to learn to rate high before each race, to improve our performance for that event. A longer term view of our training to achieve a race pace for bumps may have suggested that a more solid lower rate is easier to convert to race pace than a rate close to what we are looking for, but one where we are rowing poorly.
Strong opinions means strong feelings. I am frequently critical, and I suspect not always to everyone's liking. This is because I want to do as well as possible, and that means improving as best we can. It does not however mean that I am angry with other people, even if I disagree with their critique. Ditching objective crew discussions because there are strong differences in opinions seems to me to be counter-productive because it is likely those differences in opinion that are hindering the better rowing as a crew.
Learning for the future.
1) Decide how the crew is going to row. It doesn't matter so much on the style, as long as everyone agrees on it and changes it together. If individuals don't like it then they need to be brought into line.
2) Discuss what is going well and going badly and why. We had good outings this term, but failed to identify what we did well, so struggled to return to it. Equally deciding that an outing is badgering awful is insufficient as you have not suggested how to make the outing better. I want to go away from an outing knowing that by doing X,Y and Z that I will be making the boat go better next outing. I rarely had that feeling this term.
3) Other rowers will be rowing as well as they can. If they are doing something you don't understand, ask them or tell them. The most neutral feedback is simply to tell someone what they are doing. More often than not they are not aware that they are doing something you think is odd, and hopefully they can learn from it.
I do not believe that this was the year the second eight had to fall from the first division, however, I feel it is important to say that however disappointed with my performance I am, I appreciate all the time and effort the crew and coaches have put in this term. If we can learn and improve from it, then a bad term will be more useful for those developing to first boat standard as a 'good' term where those involved win trivially and there is no incentive to step it on. I am as ever, proud to have been part of a First and Third crew, and wish everyone all the best in the future.