French lesson in a quad
- Tuesday, 16 February 2016 05:16
Back from California and Sacramento, its State capital where unfortunately the sun showed up on rare occasions. The positive side of the rain is that California desperately needs it. Four years of drought were noticeable. But technically speaking, I did not plan such a bad weather so I was quickly running out of warm clothes. Sun tanning will be put off until later.
Nevertheless, we got a lot high quality work done. More than 250km/week in the double and in the quad helped us to be more spontaneous when rowing in crew boats. We were 6 scullers on this camp. It is a smaller group and it definitely helps to have a more consistent line up when rowing in crew boats.
Even if we change seats a lot, I personally spent a big chunk of time at stroke and bow seat (the two outside positions in a boat). If I have to run statistics, I would say that I spent 70% of the quad sessions at bow seat. I am not used to this seat and I now have to call (give instructions and run the session) in English. On top of it, I have the strategic mission of steering the boat (*). I have to admit that I was tired at the end of the day. Steering is fine. Being on top of things in English is harder and a lot more demanding. My instinct is in French.
With often two French speakers in the quad, it is 50-50. So we have a new game based on Will Dean’s idea. It is called “le mot du jour” (the word of the day). Every morning, we learn a new word related to rowing and technique. A simple but efficient way to call “pelles au carré” (square blades) or “quart de coulisse” (quarter slide) in French. It is fun to do and a nice way to share our language with our English-speaking fellows!
Even if “le mot du jour” sets the right mood, I can feel the urgency of our situation. Important deadlines such as exams or major regattas can make you feel like you are not ready or that you are not ready enough. With less than 120 days before the qualifying regatta, our last chance to qualify, I understand better and clearer what stands in front of us. I can feel that my crewmates are in the same state of mind. Every one of us is on a “mission” mode and the camp was a real success in terms of focus and dedication to the boat. Every stroke is a challenge to row as close as possible to the standards that we have set with our coach and it becomes a step towards victory. We are clearly focused on what have to do together. Not on what is at stake. There won’t be anything at stake if we don’t qualify! It is good to have this feeling of group cohesion, to see individuals change technically or mentally for the purpose of the group. There is still work to do but it is coming together.
We now have 3 weeks in Victoria before heading back to Sacramento for another 2 weeks. If you would like to know what we did and how we train in California, hop on our drone on Youtube.
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(*): in quadruple scull, there is no coxswain like an eight. But we can still steer the boat using a special foot stretcher. One of the feet can rotate and move a cable linked to the rudder. We usually place this foot stretcher:
• At stroke seat because there is a clear vision on the stern and the wake of the boat making it easy to steer on a rowing course.
• At bow seat because the rower is in charge of safety and looking behind. It is more convenient when training on lakes or rivers. The flipside is that there are 3 rowers in front of him (or her) but the challenge is to get those 3 heads in line on the course and from bow seat you can see very quickly if the boat is going straight or not.