Igniting the Competitive Spirit

The best part of rowing is racing. But it can be hard to find that racing mentality on a normal training day, especially if you’re out on the river alone. In that situation it can be easy to fall into a pattern of just rowing hard, which is important, but also a completely different sensation than going nose to nose with another boat. HPG’s U23 lightweight women’s sculler, Emma Betuel, is familiar with and poised to combat these challenges as she gets ready to compete in both the single and the quad in Rotterdam.

Her reflection... RBC and the Charles are great places not only to train, but also to race. There are boats everywhere, in every possible category and every conceivable speed. In terms of my own sculling, I feel like I am able to improve the most when I’m being challenged to compete. There is nothing that drives home the importance of a technical change more than getting walked through by someone who gets their blades in better at the catch. There is also nothing more rewarding than seeing a change rewarded with an increase in speed. The environment of racing on the Charles River is invaluable. It is a unique crucible of competitors that drives us all to pull harder, row better, and bring out the best in one another.

Riverside’s HPG light men’s quad also recall some stellar opportunities this summer lining up “side by each” as they continue to prepare for the non-olympic World Championships in Rotterdam this August. Before heading off to US World’s trials earlier this summer, we lined up opposite the Olympic US lightweight double of Andrew Campbell and Josh Konieczny before they headed off to Rio, finishing 5th. Being the first US lightweight double to make the A final in the Olympics, the guys from up the river were a world-class crew that gave us a real taste of the speed we are looking for. Another fantastic racing partner this summer has been the U.S. under-23 heavyweight men’s quad. This group of Harvard rowers, packing some serious meat, joined us for several days of piecing throughout the summer. The experience of lining up next to this talented crew was instrumental in our development this summer. We used these experiences to find speed in our technique, togetherness, and poise under pressure. We found we could compete most effectively with the stronger boat when we focused in and executed on these things that make us as lightweights fast. As Emma said above, lining up next to any opponent during training is unique in emulating the pressures and ferocity of race-day. A series of pieces against the RBC sweeps team one morning continued to foster this elusive fervor. Even breaking the quad down into singles and chasing each-other up and down the Charles in what most rowers call “battle paddle” ignites the competitive spirit and elevates the training intensity to a new level. As we hopped on the plane and headed off to the Netherlands this week, we were excited that we had these opportunities and look forward to finding more as we continue to make our final training push before the big show!

Traveling can be hectic and very taxing on the body, but fortunately for us, we took a direct flight into Amsterdam Thursday night, and from there took a short train ride to the city of Delft, where we will be training until Wednesday when we meet up with the rest of team USA in Rotterdam. Upon arrival in Delft, we were met by a few of the coaches of the D.S.R. Proteus-Eretes rowing club. They worked with Judith to help set up this training trip for us, helped us find housing, and are letting us train in a nice Empacher 4x! One of the coaches took our luggage to our new residence, while the other coach took us to the bike rental shop. Although it took some time to pay for the rentals, we enjoyed the complimentary espresso and cappuccino to help fight of the jet lag. From there, we rode bike to our new home, settled in, and went down to the boat club to get set in the sleek yellow boat.

Yesterday afternoon we were welcomed by Proteus to watch the exciting Olympic finals before heading out on the water to do some racing of our own. We watched the USA claim two medals, including gold in the US Women’s eight in which 2 HPG alums, Meghan Musnicki and Lauren Schmetterling, became olympic champions! While the US women really walked away with it, a nail biting M1x final, where Mahe Drysdale won by less than a bow-ball, got the adrenaline pumping as we got ready up to race! From there we hit the water, the beautiful “Delftse Schie” to be exact, and went through our race warm-up before throwing down a 1500m, 1000m, and 750m with the Proteus club 8+. The pieces went well, and we are excited to keep piecing the club eights throughout the week we’re here! Here’s to the competitive spirit!

Go Riverside, and go USA!