Success for the Masters Double at Pairs Head!

Robert Bailey Reports
Twickenham was represented by 5 crews, four double sculls and one pair.  We gained a win in Masters F double sculls from the partnering of Simon (Spike) (Pullen) and Robert (Bailey) in a time of 12:55:12, some 10 sec ahead of our close rivals Upper Thames RC.
Robert Bailey & Simon Pullen, Pairs Head 2012

"Spike and I have partnered before in the double scull and last season we were in a quad with James (Sirmon) and Rob (Kerr).  Lately we have all been training and racing in singles, as part of Kosta’s Masters’ Squad.  Spike and I partnered up for the two weeks prior to the Pairs Head and were given use of the Filippi double ‘Gabbi Fell’ to train and race in, for which we are very grateful – it suited us near perfectly.

"We had 5 training sessions prior to the race, 3 of these alongside others in singles, doubles and a pair oar and two on our own.  This work-up was essential and allowed us to get back into a good stroke profile and ratio at relatively high rating (30-34).  Yesterday, on a fast passage from TwRC down to the start at Chiswick, we rehearsed the above in short bursts.  For me this warm-up is essential – as stroke I have to set up the cadence correctly and maintain that on a stable platform.  Spike can then address the tactics, call the changes, as well as steer!  If we get it right it is an exhilarating experience.

"After a short sharp rain shower we turned and were into the wind-up.  This was off light, then half pressure, then three quarter, then a countdown of 3 strokes to ‘go’ and a further wind-up to overrate at about 33-34, then settling the boat in the choppy water at about 31-32 for the first 3 minutes to Barnes Bridge.  Spike steers an incredibly good course and we passed a few Mas F 2x crews by Barnes.  After Barnes we aimed to get into an efficient race pace and we were on target rating of about 30-31.  A little after Barnes I sensed the water calm a bit and this helped us to relax into a good cadence and near the end we raised the game to finish.  I was mentally marking a crew behind us who initially kept station and I was relieved to see us slowly pull away, increasing the distance between us.  Our main competition, Upper Thames RC, however lay ahead (as they started in front of us) and we had to trust our plan to deliver – keep relaxed, keep good stroke profile and ratio, soft entries, good balance – and it paid off.

"When I’m coaching single sculling sessions I try and teach the same principles.  Everything is easier to accomplish at lower ratings and the focus and patience at these lower rating sessions allows for grounding of good technique.  I always say ‘if I can do something well, then Spike can do it much better and Kosta still better than Spike’!  So the Saturday coached sessions for the Masters’ squad by Kosta are for me a great opportunity to refine technique, as well as to benchmark against others.  In partnering with Spike I strive to generate and maintain the platform he wants – which is often expressed as ‘the same effort per stroke, whatever the rating (in the 30-36 range), and we gain increase of speed by raising the cadence’.  A passing remark at the end of the race by Spike perhaps was significant ‘I don’t think we could have gone faster in the second half’ – and that will stick in my memory.

"Thanks to Spike and Kosta, and to Paul (Davis) our Captain for the use of ‘Gabbi Fell’.  Thanks to the others with whom we train.  It is always uplifting to go to an event alongside other TwRC crews."

Robert  14 Oct 12