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More than sport

Filtering by Tag: Rowing WA

Red Nose Regatta

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01 red nose regatta Here is a bit of a debrief on the Red Nose Regatta.

It started with a name:


If you got through that without needing a tissue to wipe away tears of happiness/sadness and love, then forge ahead: Dean then got on 94.5 and talked up our efforts with Adrian Barich on the Dead Set Legends. Listen to it here.

And if that wasn't enough, journalist Natalie Brown from the West decided to share the love on their website and on page 13 of the newspaper as well.

In total, we raised about $400 for SIDS and Kids WA, and we hope this will grow into the future.

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Dean and Suz's story

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A story of love, loss, recovery... and rowing. This is Dean and Suz Neal:

Dean and Suze 1

When they're not travelling the world and posting photographs of their adventures on facebook in a very effective effort to make their mates jealous, they can be found doing this:

Dean and Suze

So when the Neals dug deep to donate to a new boat at the WA Rowing Club, there was much rejoicing.

Most of Dean and Suz's mates know they are a beautiful couple with a beautiful family who still, after almost 30 years of marriage, are very much in love. So it wasn't hard to decide to name the boat in their honour.

suz and dean name

The Trent Damon was named on June 14 at a short ceremony at the WA Rowing Club. And with permission, this is the story behind the name, as told by Dean Neal.

During mid 1993 (yep THAT long ago!) Suzanne during pregnancy developed Toxaemia/Preeclampsia and was seriously ill, as a result she landed in hospital for several weeks (you can imagine how THAT would go down with her lol)!

Due to the health risk to mum and baby, an emergency C-section was performed to deliver our first borne Damon... 9 weeks premature.

Thankfully the staff at King Edward were amazing. In a matter of a few weeks, Damon was later transferred to a regional private hospital (Kelmscott) and Suz was able to go home. A couple of weeks later after that, Damon came home too.

It was around this time I secured a career through my tertiary studies as an IT Support Office at PMH! My work was coming together, my family was at the time too!

Then on the morning of October 14, 1993 - only days after Damon had passed his medical with flying colours and was around 11 weeks old and with no warning, I woke up to go to work and kiss him on the cheek, I then discovered he had died. He was still warm to touch... it was THAT recent I had discovered him...

I was later told that Damon's premature birth had nothing to do with him dying to SIDS.

By this stage - he looked like a healthy, normal baby. That just made the rocky road, that much rockier.

In a panic, I woke Suzanne and rather than ring an ambulance, we rushed him into the car with us and drove to the Kelmscott Private Hospital that was quite close and bolted in through the front doors carrying Damon. The sight of Suze trying to deliver CPR to our baby at the time was something I will never, ever forget....horrible. Horrible.

As we arrived at the hospital, the staff were amazing in their efforts but it was ultimately efforts in vain.

It was a mortifying day to say the least. I was 23 at the time and to confront already having outlived a child was dreadful obviously. To see hospital staff crying, even the police sargent coming in to confirm death and seeing him sob uncontrollably and hugging us himself is seared in my brain, forever.

It was almost impossible to deal with. My work suffered, I couldn't even go outside without fear. Through it all, Suzanne was amazing, she let her emotions out from the start and was strong.

Then as Suzanne was pregnant again and almost to the year - October 1994 - Trent Damon Neal was born. 1997 saw our daughter Felicity born and thankfully these two are fit and strong and wonderful kids. We are very proud of them.

However, I still hadn't completely dealt with what had happened to us was partying hard, not watching what I was eating or drinking. In 1999 I noticed I had become a 125kg 'big boy' and decided I wanted to be a fit and healthy husband and Dad. I wanted to run after my kids basically - and catch them!

It was at this time Suzanne through her mate Deb Mason, decided to take up rowing at the West Australian Rowing Club (Westies) - and she suggested I come along too... knowing my new-found desire to lose weight and be healthier.

Over the next 18-months, I fell in love with the people at the West Australian Rowing Club and proceeded to lose 40kg over that period by rowing hard and erg-ing ass off!

For the first time in the longest time, I felt well in mind, body and spirit.

In 2001, I completed a Half Ironman Triathlon and rest assured that was as far removed from where I was a couple of years earlier than you could get!

Later that year, our family moved to Sydney for work reasons and we stopped rowing. However the desire to remain fit and healthy on the back of what I discovered at Westies remained. We moved around for a few years but through it all, we missed rowing. We really did. It was my favourite sport.

I have cycle-toured thousands of Ks... climbed Spanish Alps on a Mountain bike... but whenever we saw glassy, still water...anywhere... Suz and I would always remark "Man...we could row the hell out of that!"

Rowing recruits every muscle, joint, ligament and sinew. Also your soul... yes it requires commitment from even THAT during those assorted moments of lactic acid bliss.

What I discovered by rowing, was that it opened up new opportunities for Suzanne and I.

From not being able to even walk down a busy mall in 1993 due to fears and phobias brought on by the loss of Damon, to where I am directing, presenting and producing motorsport TV in front of hundreds of thousands of people is testament to what I learnt!

Then in 2012, my career saw me relocate back to Perth. As soon as we made that decision - Suz and I said straight up... "AWESOME, we can row again at Westies!"

As before, rowing at the West Australian Rowing Club is wonderful, enriching, relaxing and in some ways enlightening.

The values of togetherness, teamwork, mental strength and tenacity are always on show when you row in this environment.

The WARC Club is awesome, a wide array of personalities and people who are as 'family' to me already as anybody.

Bottom line - and Suz can speak for herself-  for me... rowing opened my eyes all those years ago to make every day count...and get busy living - for friend and family....but most of all... for yourself.

We support this Red Nose Day regatta passionately... simply because I made the mistake all those years ago in NOT seeking counsel or help.

To lose a child in this dreadful way does not mean you are a bad parent... its instinct to appropriate blame on oneself when something like this happens. But it's not your fault.

Also I want friends and family of those who lose someone to SIDS to not stand go and see these people, to hug these people, to tell them that you love them and that whilst you don't have all the answers as to why this happened, that you will always, always be there for them.

Also time does truly heal... though the scars of course, will remain as a timely reminder to live life. Simple.

We've been supporting the Red Nose Regatta for June 21 where we've invited rowers throughout Perth to buy a $2 red nose and put it on their bowball to raise awareness and funds for SIDS and Kids WA.

Check out this photo gallery of the boat naming - with thanks to Mike Smith for snapping on the day.

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Top 10 most painful ergs

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Erg 2 edited

Welcome to the Top 10 most painful ergs. This is a bucket list of ergs nominated be seasoned athletes from all over Australia who sent in their most feared sessions on the rowing machine via social media. That said, in the words of Tim Widdicombe (who stroked the WA LW4- at SIRR to a silver medal. He is a hard man): "any erg is awful, when done correctly."

So here we put a warning: Don't try this at home kids.

New: Check out the list as an infographic

However, for the serious and insane, if (and I say if) you complete this full suite of 10 sessions in 10 consecutive days and can email in a picture of your erg screen each day to, and we will salute you on our FB page, but we don't want anyone to, like, die... so the encouragement is minimal.

So here are the rules:

erg meme

1. All these sessions are completed off slides except the Spiral of Death. This is because slides are for lightweights, wusses and Jonesy.

2. As drag factors are no longer set by Rowing Australia, it's up to you to decide however you can use these as a guide:

  • 95 for lightweight or junior women
  • 105 for women
  • 110-120 for lightweight and junior men
  • 120-130 for men

If you're not sure how to set the drag factor, firstly you shouldn't be attempting the Bucket List...

...But if you decide to try anyway, arrange to erg with someone with a bit of experience or have a chat to your coach.

erg meme 2

To be able to complete these sessions, you will often need to know what your average 500m split for your 2000m personal best is. This is known as your TMS.

If you're not sure (a) what this means or (b) what it is, again: maybe don't try this at home.

But, if you insist, this wolverine plan has, on page 16, a really nifty pace chart. And this site has a rather handy erg time calculator. I'd like to think it wasn't written to assist handing in false erg times back in the days before you could take photos of the erg screen, but that seems unlikely.

And here is what the Kiwi Pair had to say (note we were also favourited by Olaf Tufte and Concept 2!!):

RT @kiwipair: @WARowingClub@concept2@OlafTufte08@KimmyJCrow 30x 500m on 1min off. So you can race others. Fastest person wins session!

— Concept2 (@concept2) April 9, 2014

You heard it here 1st! RT @kiwipair: @WARowingClub@concept2@OlafTufte08@KimmyJCrow 2kms are not that hard. Only hurts for about 2mins...

— Concept2 (@concept2) April 9, 2014

@WARowingClub@concept2@OlafTufte08@KimmyJCrow 30x 500m on 1min off. So you can race others. Fastest person wins session!

— KIWIPAIR (@kiwipair) April 9, 2014

@WARowingClub@concept2@OlafTufte08@KimmyJCrow 60min test or half marathon test... That's def top 3

— KIWIPAIR (@kiwipair) April 9, 2014

@kiwipair@WARowingClub@concept2@OlafTufte08 30 x 500m is ridiculous! My vote is any session with 1 min breaks. Lactate optimiser!

— Kim Crow (@KimmyJCrow) April 10, 2014

And so, without further ado, the top 10 most painful ergs as voted by friends of WARC, from least painful to most.

The runner up to this list is...

Claire's legacy:20 minutes at two-minutes on, one-minute off, open rate. Complete twice.Thoroughly unpleasant for all who have attempted.

10: The Vomit Session

A favourite of the Pharcers in Melbourne, this involves:

1000m at TMS -5, four minutes rest Two x 500m at TMS -10 with two minutes rest between Two x 240m at TMS - 15 with one minute rest

9: Bad news erg (bad news comes in threes)

rowing meme 3

Three by 3000m. Each 3000m includes: 2250m at the 6km pace, 250m at TMS and the last 250m at sub-TMS.

8: Amy's awfulust erg

40 minutes of 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off.

7: Shaun's shenanigans

This is a seven by four-minute step test with one minute rest between, dreamed up by the masochists at Rowing Australia.

Scarily, this also involves having blood taken in between sets (blerch) and wearing a breathing apparatus, at least according to the above 2008 document. Shaun says this started with each four minute being held at a proportion of the TMS. By the sixth, you're at TMS and then for the final four minutes, the aim is to hold the split lower than TMS. At which point death was guaranteed.

6: The Spiral of Death

microwave minute

Dreamed up by a man called Bingles, this is a team effort. You need to hook your ergs up together on slides (ideally in two competition teams where there is something significant on the line. Like... getting out of unloading, for example).

  • 3 x four minutes, with a four minute break
  • 3 x two minutes, with a two minute break
  • 3 x one minute, with a one minute break Breakdown as follows:

The breakdown is like this:

  • First four minutes: Two minutes at 18 strokes per minute (spm), two minutes at 20 strokes per minute
  • Second four minutes: Two minutes at 20spm. two minutes at 22spm
  • Third four minutes: Two minutes at 22spm, two minutes at 24spm
  • First two minutes: One minute at 24spm, one minute at 26spm
  • Second two minutes: One minute at 26spm, one minute at 29spm
  • Third two minutes: One minute at 28spm, one minute at 30spm
  • First one minute: 30 seconds at 30spm, 30 seconds at 32spm
  • Second one minute: 30 seconds at 32spm, 30 seconds at 34spm
  • Final minute: 30 seconds at 34spm. 30 seconds at 36spm

Aim is to beat each previous split and to match rating with the nominated stroke, and each team member takes a turn at stroking.

Winning crew lives. Losing crew dies.

erg meme 4

5: The two-man (or woman) pursuit

The stuff of nightmares:

500m flat out on the erg... then 1000m running 10 times

For WARC, the most common sprint length is out of the club, around the Bell Tower and back, or down Riverside Drive to the traffic lights and back. And then, of course it's up the stairs and back on the erg.

4: The WAIS battery

This dreaded four by 4000m piece was part of a battery of tests that has since been abandoned by WAIS and RWA.

It involved athletes completing 4000m four times, with a five-minute rest between each piece.

It was nominated by every athlete that completed it.

3. The Hour of Power

erg  meme 6

Almost everyone who responded said the straight 60 minute steady-state at maximum pressure for the set rate was the epitome of erg purgatory.

For direct quotes from those who nominated: "The straight 60 minutes is 100 per cent balls."

2. The 2000m test.

Although not actually nominated by anyone, it was already a given this would make the stop of the list.  If you want to know why, watch this: The 2K test can break the best of us, even the patron saint of rowing, Sir Steve Redgrave.

surge erg

1.The Surge Erg

Dreaded by all, spoken of only in whispers: This is the Sauron - nay, the Voldemort - of the erg world.

It doesn't have the volume of the Hour or Power, or the intensity of the Vomit Session. It doesn't have the competition of the Two Man Pursuit or the Spiral of Death, and doesn't have the outside pressure to perform of the dreaded 2000m test.

And yet, for those who have done it, the mere mention of the concept is enough to render them virtually catatonic.

The Surge Erg is:

Four x 10" with five minutes rest (sound simple so far?)

Each 10" is made up of 30 seconds at TMS, 90 seconds at 6km split.

So, that's it. If you disagree, feel free to add new training programs to the comments - the only rule is it has to be a real training session - one you've completed, not just made up.

Like the 24-hour erg completed in Northbridge one night...

... Oh... hang on. That totally happened.

Happy rowing

PBR and the WA Rowing Club

be like paul

Good luck.

Season starts

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drills It's amazing what you find lying around a rowing shed when it's being cleared out. Above and linked here as a PDF, we found this rowing drills table that matches drills to technical issues.

I'm not entirely sure what all these are, so here's some youtube videos to get started. If anyone can enlighten us on the "stuff the duck" strill, the "OSA Full Pressure" or "toddies", that would be great. Here's some drill examples (some awesome, some not so much) to get you fired up for the season ahead.

Crossed arms rowing:

Catch placements:

Pause rowing:

And this is my particular favourite: How to get back in after flipping a scull:

And they're back: All the action from SIRR

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And they're back: The combined University of WA Boat Club and West Australian Rowing Club nationals contingent have returned with enough booty to sink the the Francis. The nationals

Which is quite a bit, because I've tried to sink the Francis before and I swear that boat is intentionally trying to thwart my murder efforts. But as usual, I digress:

The team have returned victorious. And as far as I'm aware, in one piece.

For those who caught the action on TV, it's always a thrill to see our own athletes on the big screen (somehow even more exciting than watching them in real life) and I think we all cheered just that little bit extra to see Maia Simmonds. Firstly, they accurately pronounced her name - eventually. Then she was voted the "rower's rower" at the event. And then she went on to win the LW2X- world cup with past Olympian Hannah Every-Hall. As you do. It was a goose-bumps moment.

Anyway, some of the results are as follows:

Janelle Austin picked up a bronze for her position in the WA crew for the Victoria Cup, jagged a second in the Open LW4X-, and won the Open LW1X B-final by about three lengths. It's worth noting the time would have put her in the middle of the field in the A-final - a stellar effort.

For the lads, Matty Butz Cochran also picked up a win in a B scull final - the U23 in this case and he also won his event pretty much before anyone else had even left the starting blocks. Mat also had a berth in the Kings Cup event, as did some of our mates from UWA. There's some great pix of the Butz and a few other WARC friends in this gallery

DenikaDenika Kelsall medalled in the U19 quad scull (and convinced her fellow athletes to row in RED. Go sista!) and made the A Final in the hotly-contested U19 1x. She was also one of the senior members of the Youth Eight, which was a young crew with a bright future ahead of them.


Wakeford was there. He rowed. He's been very quiet on that front.

For Amy Bobbins Walters, she also made the B Final in the open lightweight single to race alongside Janelle, and had a great outing in the LW2X- with Alex Needoba from UWA. Bobs was also in the crew which picked up a silver in the open lightweight quad.

I am waiting on a summary of the equally huge, impressive and generally amazing haul from the UWA contingent, so come back in a while and I'll hopefully have it updated.

Meanwhile, a huge thanks to all the very, very many supporters who have stood behind these athletes and made the campaign possible. Very many know who you are and we have had your names pinned up in WARC for the last few weeks to remind everyone that for every shining star on the national stage, there is a veritable mountain of people underneath making it possible.