Friday, February 09, 2007

Boat Testing: Part 1

What an exciting time to be involved in rowing. Last night we travelled down to Geelong about 50min south west of Melbourne to the Barwon River. We’re here to do boat testing and it’s great fun jumping into the various boats we have available here to get a feel for what’s the best and to measure each one’s performance. We are aware that the testing has to involve objective and subjective measures if we are to be comprehensive. When we arrived we rigged up each boat and went for a 5km row in each. For this phase of the testing we have a Sykes, Fillipi and Hudson and in the future we are still interested in getting a row in a Kirs and Wintech. The reason for this is to ensure we have the best equipment leading into the next eighteen months.

Before we begin I will say this about the Sykes boat and that is we have been extremely happy with its performance over the years and the team at Sykes have been great to work with. So why then are we testing? It’s simple we want to make sure we have the best boat. Another benefit to the testing is what we learn about how the different boats respond and that very important both from our own awareness of what works and why, but also for what we are up against. Know they self is paramount and changing equipment is a great way of challenging the thoughts, feeling and any assumptions we make about how we move and row.

All manufacturers have been great at providing equipment and we a grateful for this. Last night we even had dinner with the Australia rep for Hudson, David Palfreman, and that may sound very formal, but really we have known Palf for years and he is always very helpful. Stewart Wilson from Sykes was with us in the afternoon help us to get every thing set up being that we are in their neck of the woods down here in Geelong. Chris O’Brien our coach has spoken with all of them including they manufacturers who don’t have boats here today. We have been transparent about the process we want to go through.

As I write this one of the boats is being re-rigged to make it match the feeling of the others as the pitch of the stroke side blade felt a bit out yesterday. What we have agreed to today to not discuss our thoughts and feeling until we have recorded all information. We aim to measure using a range of indicators including, boat speed, stroke rate, blood lactate, heart rate, video analysis, and records of our subjective thoughts and feelings. So we have pretty much ever thing we can think of and a team of people who will ensure we get the process as accurate as possible. There will be variables we can control, but we will attempt to minimise those or at least take them in to account. It will be a long day today so I will write part two we return to Melbourne.

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