« Australia Update #7 »

With a gold medal in the u19 race and having completed a race that was more in line with our own rhythm and race plan, we met Saturday morning a bit later than normal and made our way directly to the race course.  Our race was not until 2:30, but we wanted to make sure we go there in time for a few festivities.  We arrived around noon to watch the Roulettes - a group of aerobatic airplanes - perform over the race course just before the start of the Interstate Regatta.  The interstate regatta is a very cool tradition they have in Australia.  Each of the 6 states (Western Australia, Australian Capital Territories, Tasmania, Queensland, Southern Australia, and New South Wales) have a selection committee of some sort who keep tabs on every rower living in their state.  Over the course of the year they organize the best squad they can into the different categories (which include heavyweight, lightweight, u23, u21, men, women and several classes of boat sizes).  The athletes then try to get together in a central location once or twice a month to start, and then a bit more often as the race draws nearer.  There is a lot of tradition in this regatta and a lot of pride in the states.  What I thought was amazing was the attention that was paid to the development of all the athletes in the state, and also that this is such a tradition that the Olympians participate alongside.  So, the NSW eight might have 3 Australian Olympians in it and the Queensland eight might have 2, etc...).  As you can imagine these races were fast!  The best race was probably the women's single race which was very tightly contested between a former Olympian Sally Kehoe (who we met earlier and is not very big) and someone whose name I didn't recognize, but I am sure I will in the future.  The only downer of watching the roulettes and the interstate was the sun... It was so hot I was dripping sweat just standing there trying to get a good picture of the airplanes. 

After the interstate men's 8 I got to washing the boat and the girls headed off to warm up.  In our Pre-race meeting I just kept telling them to find their rhythm and row their race.  I emphasized that they do not have to win the first 500.  The most important thing in the first 500 is to find their rhythm.  This boat is not big and not strong, but when they are in their rhythm they are very fast.  Their strength is in their efficiency.  It was hot enough to completely soak themselves in the shower before launching, so, with the cold water quickly evaporating they launched off into the warm-up pond and I got on the bike to go follow the race.   Our semifinal included Melbourne as well as Methodist ladies. (both heat winners I think) along with a few other quick crews.  After the heat 2 days ago, we had 10 seconds to make up.  And, if you were just looking at times across the heats from the other day, it would be a real challenge just to make the final.  However, I knew we were faster than we showed in the heats so I was confident they would advance... Still 10 seconds was a lot to come back from.  When the green light and buzzer sounded they were off, and after only 10 seconds or so, I already knew it was going to be a much better race.  They looked more like I expected them to look, and while they were down off the start and continued to lose ground for the first few hundred meters, I was still riding a wave of confidence.  We looked to be moving pretty effortlessly (I know it is far from effortless, but there is something about really good rowing that looks much easier than it actually is).  About 750 meters into the race, the other crews stopped walking away and I felt as if the tables were about to turn.  The only strategy that we had really been able to focus on was to unfold in the middle part of the race.  Over the next several hundred meters we stopped the other crews from walking away and then began climbing back one seat at a time.  It was an amazing race to watch alongside on the bicycle.  Riding along I couldn't help but cheer (it was allowed - don't worry) by the end of the race I was riding alongside the coach of the Methodist ladies college as our crews were battling at the front of the pack with Melbourne right nearby.  (by the way, we think the Saratoga rowing girls team is big??  From what I overheard, Melbourne has 80 girls in their seniors school - that is 11th and 12th graders only!). At 250 meters to go, we were still behind by a little and we were still walking on the field... Did we have enough room to get by before the fast approaching finish line?  As we crossed the line the announcer said it was really close, but he initially gave it to Methodist... It wasn't until the times went up on the board that I found out they won the race.  And it wasn't until I landed them at the dock that they knew.  It was an amazing race.  In fact, while the Friday win was fun.  This is the race I was hoping for when we boarded the plan for AUS.  We were all thrilled with the race and the intensity of it.  We all also agreed that we were most proud of ourselves for rowing our race and our rhythm.  It is always fun to win, but we agreed that the most important thing in this semi-final was that we rowed our own race under extreme pressure.  I would have been no less proud if they had finished half a second slower in 2nd place.  This was exactly what we needed (actually it might have been a little better to finish 2nd in the semi) to prepare ourselves for a great spring season.  This race alone was worth the months of planning, fund-raising, missed school, hours of travel, etc…

After the race, we decided to stay at the regatta for a bit to do a little shopping and watch the World Cup racing (maybe not the greatest idea given the temperature).  But it was such a great opportunity to meet the team and everyone was excited to chant “USA, USA”.  We were determined to make our 10 voices heard over the thousands of Australians.  At the end of the day we hit the road a little earlier than usual in order to let the girls have a final dinner with their host families.  Of course, after a strong race, they were all eager for ice-cream – so, even though we were tight on time, we had plans to stop at Mackers (McDonalds) for some soft serve.  On the way, however, we saw an ice cream truck off in the distance.  Pumped from their race, I floored it to come up behind the pink truck and just give a friendly little bumper tap to let him know we were hungry, unfortunately he didn’t respond as we had hoped, so we floored it again and came up alongside.  Half her body hanging out the window, Meghan grabbed the coaching megaphone and shouted for him to pull over.  When he tried to speed away again, I pulled the van in front of him and forced him over to the side.  He got the message.  (actually none of that happened, we just happened to be behind him when he pulled over to close his back window and we pulled in behind him, but I promised the girls I would make it more interesting).  After ice cream, with promises to get to bed early, off they went to dinner with their host families and I went off to dinner in Sydney with my host.  Tomorrow would be the finals and our last day of the trip.



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Reader Comments (1)

Hi there!
There is nothing that could be said for something like that and no one would say anything else. Everything else was said to be true and no one would be able to change it. Even do this is the same as the idea of something as normal as this. Even the idea of something like AUs.co and http://www.travelaust.com.au/ .

July 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKarren Malles

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