This weeks post is written by John Bentley. He was recently asked to visit American Samoa and help them with their rowing event or Fautasi as it is known. The following story is John's take on the sport and how he used Coxmate Electronics to provide a solution to the communication dilemma he encounted. Take it away John.
The best kept secret in rowing is flourishing in the Samoan Islands. Forget notions of small outrigger canoes gliding through turquoise lagoons. These islands are the home of ‘mega rowing’ where crew numbers are measured by the busload and oarsmen battle in open water.
On the small island of American Samoa, a dozen proud villages prepare rowing boats to race and celebrate their national day. Starting three miles straight out to sea in the Pacific Ocean, the race concludes over two miles in the idyllic Pago Pago Harbor. Racing combines elements of surfboat rowing and Olympic rowing in a format that is apparently unburdened by design rules. Some boats contain over fifty participants, including a drummer!
Traditionally made of timber and rowing on fixed seats, new technology has been spectacularly embraced. Carbon fibre cleaver oars have become the norm and boats are now made on the island from fibreglass and carbon fibre. If you discount the flared gunwhales and massive bows, designed to keep the boats drier, the waterline shape and cross sections are familiar to all rowers. The dimensions are not. At 115 feet, (35 metres) the length of two VIIIs, forget about doing end on end work pieces. Their turning circles are enormous!
These boats are not slouches, with the GPS ticking over at 6.8 metres/second on occasion. (6.27 m/s is the world best time for a VIII over 2000m) Neither is the boat’s weight insignificant, with what seems the entire village required to lift them to and from the water. (John is in stroke seat in the photo above)
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Mary Whipple, Cox for the USA Women’s Team, walks us down her path of 3 different Olympic Games - Athens, Beijing, and now London. Get swept up in the story, and next time you go out coxing, feel a part of the Team.
Excerpt:As the naming date for the London Olympics quickly approaches I find myself thinking back to the previous two naming dates that I’ve been apart of. I’ve realized that I’ve come a long way since my early rowing days at Capital Crew and the University of Washington. Since I’m training for my third Olympic cycle I’ve decided to break this blog up into three parts as well: Athens, Beijing and moving towards London.
My career as an Olympian shadows that of my friends who have entered into the work world or “real world”. Young guns trying to prove themselves in a world filled with veterans. While training for Athens I was the young gun, naïve and ready to take on the world. I thought since I had success in the college ranks then why shouldn’t I have success on the senior level?
Excerpt: The Beijing cycle shaped me into the Olympian I am today. It gave me the experience to confidently say that success is about the journey and not ultimately about the destination. Having that Olympic Gold medal represents more to me now than just winning a race. When I look at my Beijing medal I see more than Gold, I remember every step of the journey that it took to get to the middle of the podium. I get it now when people say that they are excited to go to work every day. Or that they can’t believe they get paid to do the job that they do. Well, I might not be getting paid wages in that regard, but I can’t believe I have been given the opportunities that I have had through the sport of rowing. Now as an Olympian I get to share those experiences of leadership, teamwork and motivations to people from all walks of life.
Learn to cox like an Olympian as you absorb the tips in this interview with Peter Cipollone - gold medal cox from the 2004 Athens Olympics. In this interview Peter talks about how to keep your words from becoming 'white noise' in the rowers' minds during a heavy race.
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