When it comes time to hire a new employee, business owners will scour CV’s and make gut decisions on who they are hiring based on how good someone looks on paper. In this month’s blog post we let every HR person out there in on a little shortcut to choosing a great employee – if you see rowing on that CV, you’re onto a winner. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but here are a few reasons why hiring a rower is a fantastic idea:
They know commitment
Rowers are a different breed when it comes to sticking things through. While some sports will have you down for a midweek training and a weekend game, rowers slog it out 6 days a week no matter what level they race at. As a top level rower, 12+ sessions a week is a pretty normal thing… so they know what it takes to work their ass off and remain committed to an end goal.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
There is nothing quite like joining a rowing crew to really understand teamwork and putting it all on the line for the person next to you. A fast boat is one that literally moves together in one motion, and the best crews tend to be the ones that spend the most time in each other’s pockets. You get to know your crewmates through thick and thin – understanding teamwork more than any workplace will teach you.
Healthy people are productive people
A fit body leads to a fit mind and rowers are some of the fittest people you’ll ever meet. They’re usually pretty conscious of what is going into their bodies as well, so you’ll have a sharp worker that gets sick less.
Rowers know how to push
Anyone whose been in a rowing boat and trained properly knows exactly what hard work is. They understand that to get a result, you need to put in the hours. A slack rower doesn’t last the distance, so if you’re after someone whose done 5am starts and knows how to grind – look no further than a rower.
Time is of the essence
Sometimes working smarter can be more important than working harder, and time management skills are definitely something rowers bring to the table. Whether they’ve been studying or working through their rowing careers, they’ve had to not only do the work/study and socialising of their peers, but also fit in a couple of training sessions and recovery each day. They are masters of time management and doing things the smart way.
We’re sure every rower out there could add to that list, but the above traits certainly make the basis for a great employee. What do you reckon? Do rowers make the best employees out there, or are we looking at this through carbon tinted glasses?!
SL Racing is a leading rowing skiff manufacturer in New Zealand and due to business growth we are in need of a Spray Painter to join our Hawke's Bay business.
You must be competent and able to work unsupervised to a very high standard. You must be able to prep, prime, mask up, spray colour, clear coat and all other aspects. At times you will also be required to help out on other areas of the production stages
The successful person must:
If you want to work in a friendly and encouraging environment, are reliable and have a great work ethic, then please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not have experience, please do not apply
With the news today that Dick Tonks is heading to coach in Canada, it's going to be a really interesting period to see just how influential a coach can be on a rowing program. We're confident that the New Zealand elite squad is absolutely stacked with coaching smarts that will mean our crews continue to lead the pack, but what will be most interesting to see will be Tonks' influence in Canada. Will the New Zealand approach work with a different nationality? Will his renowned 'tough' training programs help the Canadians? All those questions will be answered in the next few years, but one thing is for sure - a coach can have a huge influence on a rower's progression.
Getting it right early
The first few years a rower picks up an oar can be hugely important. It's those years that you learn those initial movements and habits that end up forming the base of your stroke. You'll also often find the love (or loathing!) of the sport, as well as pick up the training instincts you'll take forward for years and years. For that reason, in some ways we actually think the coach of the novices can be as important to a club as the senior coaches. The benefit of instilling a knowledgeable and likeable coach in that role in a club can be hugely beneficial in later years.
Technique, fitness, technique, strength, technique, nutrition, technique
There are alot of factors that go into making a good rower, and the coach needs to be across all of them. Along with creating a training program that gets your athletes fit and strong, you need to be sure they recover well, eat well...even wear the correct clothing to help with performance. But the one thing that must be at the top of the list of every coach is technique. What sets apart a rowing coach and a personal trainer is their knowledge of rowing. If a coach can improve your rower's technique and ability to move the boat, then they've ticked the first box on the coaching checklist.
Knowing your athletes & injury prevention
Teaching athletes the correct rowing technique isn't just about making the boat go faster. Coaches have a huge responsibility in keeping their rowers injury free. That means understanding what movements in the boat are causing stresses on the body and what changes in technique, stretching and land based training can counteract those stresses to keep your athletes fit and healthy. Because rowing isn't a high impact sport, we tend not to see injuries as regularly as some other team sports, but the repetitive nature of our training means that any injury that does come about can be pretty nasty and long lasting. Coaches must understand that and realise that if they do the right thing, they can save their athletes from serious long term pain.
Get the rigging right
Every coach in the boatpark should understand how their boat is rigged, and why they have set it up that way. How the boat is rigged has a big impact on the final result of any race, so along with making sure the rowers have the absolute best technique, it only makes sense a coach should make sure the equipment is in the best possible shape.
A school or rowing club coach in New Zealand is likely to fill a number of roles. They'll be a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a sports psychologist, a boat master and a technical guru. They'll see rowers at their best and at their worst. Their crews might win, or they might lose, but the important thing is that a good coach is there to help an athlete improve. A good coach will give their athletes the best tools possible, keep them injury free and will help them grow the love and enjoyment of our sport.
In our last Rowing New Zealand article and blog piece, we took a basic look at pitch and what it actually is. Theory is great, but we’re all about putting those good theories into practice, so in this blog we are going to run through a nice simple way to set up and check your pitch.
First things first – grab that pin
Before you do absolutely anything with your pitch, you’re going to need to check what your pin is doing. Secure your boat (make sure it can’t move), and make sure it is absolutely dead level both side to side and bow to stern. Do this by grabbing a level and lifting or dropping the bow, stern or side which needs to change to get that little bubble in the centre of the level. Once you’ve found level…make sure the boat can’t move from that position! Remove the gate so just the pin is exposed and get yourself a smaller level, running it vertically up the pin. You’ll want to check two spots – is the pin dead straight (zero degrees) relative to the bow/stern of the boat, and what is the pitch of the pin relative to the centre of the boat. If ALL the pins on your boat are at zero relative to the bow/stern, and THE SAME (between 0 and 1 degree) side to side relative to the centre of the boat…then you are pretty good to move onto the next step. If not…you’re going to have to manipulate that pin! Always hesitate before doing this, as you’ll often find a pin can be stronger than the rigger it is attached to, so heaving around to change the angle of a pin may damage the welds on your rigger. Do it carefully…and only if the juice is worth the squeeze. We’d suggest finding an experienced coach or rower around the club and ask them to assist you – as it can be a brutal job and you don’t want to damage the boat.
Hooray – the pin is perfect!
Once you’ve got the pin exactly where you want it, you can move onto setting up the pitch of the actual gate. This is a much…much simpler task. Grab yourself a pitch meter (or if you are old school and want to be super accurate a plumb bob…again…find an older rower or coach to ask what we’re talking about there), place it against the face of the gate where your blade rests and take a degree reading. Make sure the gate is either facing parallel to the boat, or directly away from it, and take each measurement you make on each gate at the exact same spot (particularly if you’ve put pitch into the actual pin). You’re probably looking for about 4 degrees pitch….if it’s lower than 3 degrees, you’ll want to add more. To do that, remove the gate and check the little (usually blue) inserts in the gate itself. You’ll see they have numbers (7 and 1, 6 and 2, 5 and 3, 4 and 4). The difference between the numbers is the important part (7-1 = 6, 5-3 = 2), to increase your pitch, go for a difference in numbers that is higher than what you’ve currently got in the gate. And remember – this is IMPORTANT – the top insert needs to be put in the opposite way to the bottom insert (so if you have 7-1’s, you’ll want to make sure the 1 is closest to the top of the pin at the top, and the 7 is closest to the pin at the bottom). This subtle difference in sizing at the top and the bottom of the pin either pushes the face of the gate forward, or back, giving more or less pitch.
Check it and check it again
It’s really easy to get these small changes wrong, so just be sure to check and double check every gate – with it both parallel to the boat and facing away from it. You can of course rig each seat slightly differently, but it’s always a good bet to at least start with everyone’s pitch the same.
So there you have it. Pitch…simplified…sort of! Definitely ask around for lessons from people at the club, and have a think how pitch might be affecting your stroke.
Pitch. It’s a funny little word that you’ll hear rowers and coaches throw around at the boat park. Some will complain that their whole rowing stroke is being ruined by the pitch of the boat, while once we were lucky enough to hear a coach indicate to his crew that “pitch is a simple adjustment of the wrists”! But what is pitch, and is it having a huge effect on how you are rowing? In this article we try to dig a little deeper so next time you hear a ‘pitched argument’ in the boatpark you’ll know what’s being discussed.
First up, let’s get back to basics. Pitch can be measured at a couple points – it’s either the angle of the face of the blade as it runs through the water, or the angle of the pin. What most of us know as ‘the pitch’ is really the ‘stern pitch’ – the angle of the blade as it runs through the water. Most of us measure this pitch at the gate these days, but taking a pitchmeter and placing it flat against the back of the gate to figure out what angle it is on. You’ll see pitch ranging between 3 and 7 degrees (more pitch – means the top of the blade is tilted more to the stern than the bottom of the blade). All things being equal, the more pitch you put on the blade, the easier it will lock into the water at the catch, but the harder it will be to pull out. If in doubt, 4 degrees is a reasonable bet. Depending on the gates you are using, you’ll usually be able to set this pitch with the inserts that come with the gate. You’ll find little numbers written on the top of each insert, one number on the front and one on the back – we’ll talk about those a little bit later.
The second type of pitch, which is the type that is easily forgotten, is the lateral pitch. That is the angle of the pin – basically how much it is leaning away from the centre of the boat. You’ll always want your pin at zero degrees (straight up and down) when looking down the boat towards the bow or the stern, however, if you want to get a little bit tricky, you can put a small amount of sideways pitch on (push the top of the pin away from the centre of the boat). Usually you wouldn’t push this more than a degree, as adding that one degree of lateral pitch will increase the angle of your blade at the catch, and decrease it at the finish – meaning better lock at the catch, and an easier extraction (wash out!) at the finish.
So that’s pitch in a nutshell. The angle of your pin and your blade can definitely have a dramatic effect on your boat feel and performance. If you’ve a pin leaning towards the bow, you’ll be bound to washout, if you’ve got it leaning to the stern, you’ll be catching a bad case of the crabs! So next time you’re in the boat park you’ll be able to shake your head at the thought of ‘changing pitch with your wrists’, and maybe join in on the conversation. If you want to take it one step further, head to our next blog, where we take a look at putting the above theories into practice.
The most obvious (and quickest) place to start when rigging for athletes of different heights and sizes is the gate. In fact, a lot of crews will now set their boats up with spacers that can pop in and out to make a quick height change between rows or on the water. As always, before making a change to the gate it’s important to understand what the change will mean for both the rower and the crew.
There are really two levels to think of when you change the gate height. We’ll call them the drop out and the catch. The drop out is the lowest point the handle drops in the boat. That point needs to have the blade clearly out of the water, while the handle is in a comfortable position for the athlete (not digging into their quads for example). The catch on the other hand is the ‘high’ point the handle reaches. It’s a bit more variable because there aren’t body parts to stop it like the drop out, but it’s equally important to the balance of the boat.
When you change the gate height, you’re effectively moving both the drop out and the catch height up or down. That’s really important to remember – if you raise the height to make your drop out more comfortable, that will also have an effect on how high your catch, drive and finish height will be. For that reason, a bit of a balancing act will be had – and for some athletes you may need to look to other parts of the rigging setup to help out.
Let’s take three different athletes as case examples. The proportioned rower, the tall lean rower, and the short stocky rower:
Overall the gate height is a great place to start for different body shapes. Whether it’s giving more clearance for a rounder stomach, making an athlete more comfortable at either end of the stroke, or aiming to help the boats balance issues in general, it’s a good, simple place to start with rigging. Next up we’ll look at stroke length – so check back soon.
Weight Range: 85kg average
Construction date: January 2016
Reason for selling: Want to sell this to purchase another eight to match the newest eight brought over the 2016/2017 season.
Great performing hull in great condition, would be a great asset to any club.
This hull won the Boys U16 Eight at the 2017 Maadi Cup in the second fastest time of recorded history.
Price: $25,000 + GST and SL Racing will help with delivery as this is currently stored at SL Racing's workshop
We are always trying to make our boats faster, smoother and easier to use for you as customers and for us as manufacturers.
Here at SL Racing we build all our own componentry, from the seat chassis to the pin and backstay. We use our local machine shops to produce items that aren't only cost effective but also work extremely well. These are not stock items and we pride ourselves on continuously thinking outside the box so that no else builds a boat like we do.
Foot steers are a component that is sometimes overlooked but is very important. After a few years of trial and error, in September of 2016 we developed and released something that not only looked great but works perfectly as well.
Our foot steer is made fully of stainless steel so fatigue and corrosion isn't a problem as it is with aluminum.
A packer on the non steering foot ensures that the rowers legs are driving off a level platform.
The locking hole let's you lock the steering in place when you don't require steering.
Importantly, our foot steer uses a 10mm bolt to lock the wire in place so you can use your 10mm spanner.
For the rowers out there - you'll be really happy to feel a very smooth steering motion.
It is a separate component so the steering system is bolted to the foot plate. This can be brought separately to fit any shoe plate.
This month we're excited to offer two second hand boats which are basically new for sale. With each only being rowed six times each at the World Masters Games - they are a real steal & can be delivered with our next trailer load of boats.
For more information please see below, or contact Simon on 027 424 3831.
Rowed a total of 6 times at the World Masters Games.
Selling for NZ$9,200 including GST, so a very sharp price.
We can drop off the boat with our next trailer load.
Heavy men's Coxless Four/Quad
Rowed a total of 6 times at the World Masters Games.
Selling for NZ$22,168 +GST Normal RRP NZ$25,200
We can drop off the boat with our next trailer load.
As part of our commitment to the rowing community, we're always happy to post notices on behalf of clubs who need to get a message out. This month North End Rowing Club has got in touch and want to get the word out about their 125th celebrations - see below!
We're constantly looking for new ways to make our boats faster and more enjoyable to row, and today we're please to announce the full launch of our latest piece of innovation.When we first created SL Racing one of our big focuses was making fast boats that rowers really enjoy rowing. We put a big focus on the little things that would make a difference to us as rowers, and as we move into a busy winter of boat building, we are pleased to announce that every new shell from 1st May 2017 will be fitted with our new, innovative, Carbon Fibre foot stretcher.
The key lies in the leg drive. The foot stretcher has a 10 degree angle change in the lower half of the footplate, allowing the heels of the feet to push down earlier in the drive, increasing your athlete's power output by activating the larger rowing muscles sooner through the leg drive. We have also made the shoes wider apart to give a better platform for boat stability. Like everything in our boats, it's about combining comfort with performance, and already St Peters U-17 8+ has shown that you can get great results with the new stretcher - taking out gold at National Secondary School Champs.
Orders are coming thick and fast into our workshop, so make sure you don't get left behind over the winter and get in touch with us soon about improving your fleet with an SLR.
If you've just finished your last year of Secondary School Rowing you'll be in a really exciting time of your life - the world will be your oyster. But that raises the question about what happens next with your rowing? Globally there tends to be a real drop off in participation in most sports after High School, and that definitely applies to rowing in New Zealand. We think that's a shame, and really want to encourage every high school athlete to stay involved in rowing in some way post Maadi. Right now Maadi Cup no doubt seems like the biggest event in your rowing life, but there is so much more to be gained if you stay in the boat in some way...it doesn't need to be hardcore or elite, but try to keep your rowing ticking over for a couple more years and we guarantee you won't regret it. Here are a few ways to do that...and a few reasons why you should!
You want to make a New Zealand squad
This is the most obvious reason to keep rowing - but too many athletes just think it's out of their reach. What you'll quickly learn is that no matter how many races you won (or didn't win!) at High School...that doesn't mean a whole lot once you move into Club rowing. They say it takes 10 years to row properly, and for some of you, you won't get your strength, your endurance, or your boat feel until post High School. In fact, if you look at the top rowers globally - people like Mahe Drysdale - a huge amount of them didn't necessarily do amazing things at High School. We are lucky to compete in a sport where results come from hardwork...so stick with your goals for a few more years - Maadi is just the first step on the ladder.
If you're already at the top of the pile and in the selectors' gaze, then that's even better! Our big piece of advice would be to seriously consider a move to Karapiro over winter. You can still break into the system if you study and work elsewhere in the country, but you'll give yourself the best opportunity if you can be in front of the NZ coaches and athletes regularly up north. If you are at that top level now, then strike while the iron is hot - you've got your whole life to explore the world, but a limited window to be a professional athlete and row for New Zealand.
You want to get your University degree
After High School, often the first thing to tick off the list is your University degree. It's a great time - you'll meet new people, no doubt party hard, and come out the other end with a tertiary qualification. It's also somewhere that alot of people stop their rowing...as socialising and study takes priority. Well...don't let it. University Rowing is incredibly fun. Even if you are just in it for the social side of things, it's a fantastic way to meet new people in a new place, and the training can be as easy or as intense as you make it. Throw in the fact that alot of the Universities send crews all over the world, and it makes for some of the best memories at uni. Plus...it's a great way to stave off the fresher five kg that every new uni student seems to stack on!
You want to do an OE
More and more our first step post high school is to do an OE or work abroad for a year. Hat's off to you if you are thinking of doing that - it's a brilliant life experience. But again, there is no need to ditch the rowing, and in fact it's an easy way to make local friends that will show you around your new town as only locals can. Let's be honest, rowers tend to be good sorts, and that goes worldwide! Along with keeping fit and having a blast, you also might get to race in regatta's like Royal Henley in the UK... and if you thought Maadi was fun - wait until you see how awesome racing at some of those regattas can be. Be sure to use your rowing to your advantage. Lot's of places around the world will pay for kiwi coaches - from Camp America, to London, to Australia, our rowing pedigree is known, so keep rowing, and you might end up earning a dollar from coaching as well.
You've got a trade and want to stay in your hometown
Congratulations - you've just become the life blood of New Zealand club rowing! If you've set up shop in your home town, you've now got a great opportunity to become a leader in your club. While the uni students are off boozing, you can up your strength and get on the water every now and then over winter and get ahead for next summer. You'll make some great contacts at rowing clubs that will set you up for anything from jobs, to a place to live, so if you've only rowed for a school, don't be shy in heading to your local club now.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that no matter what your next step in life, continuing to row is a great way to enhance that step. Some of the closest friends you make in life will be made in a rowing boat, and one day they'll be the people who you visit all over the world. They'll help you in your career, make your travels more exciting and generally just add to your life. If you keep rowing you'll be one of the fittest people wherever you are, and you'll continue to have that great satisfaction that comes with a beautiful row. You'll also learn that there is something called social rowing out there in the world - so you can be as intense or as cruisy as you like in our brilliant sport.
Throughout our lives we have met lots of people that have rowed at school and not continued. They always look back at rowing with the biggest fondness and most say they want to get back in a boat now...but if you stop, it's that much harder to get back. So we like to think that you'll never regret continuing to row...you'll never regret a training session, but one day you'll definitely regret not continuing on for at least a few years post high school.
So from those of us who have been there and done that - wait until you are at least twenty before you decide to pull the pin on rowing - at least then you would have gained some mates, stayed fit, and found out what rowing post high school is all about. It's only two more years right?!
Over the years our team has sat at the start line of many a 2km race, plenty of 5kms and even the odd 20km one! Some are one day regattas while some are held over a whole week, so along the way we've found out just how important diet can be to the final results. Just like a car, if we get our fuelling wrong, we can run out of gas at the most crucial times - so it's important to at least have a basic understanding of how the food you eat affects your energy systems. Below are some of the little snippets of advice that we have picked up along the way - we certainly aren't dietitians or nutritionists though, so if you are serious about knowing how YOUR body can perform better with nutrition, it would definitely be worth contacting a local expert in the field.
Carbs - the conventional thought
For as long as we can remember, we've been told that the important thing to do before race day is to 'carbo-load'. The logic behind this is that by eating carbohydrates you maximise the storage of glycogen (energy) in your muscles, ready to explode into use on race day. A true carbo-load would see you increasing the amount of carbs (foods like pasta, fruit juice, potatoes, vegetables and the like) over a 2-7 day period while reducing the amount of protein you're eating. This comes with a bit of a proviso though, in that as rowers we are only racing for 2km, so never really get into the true endurance zone that a full blown carb loading approach is designed for. Knowledge is power though, so make sure you have a read of some articles about the science behind carbo loading so you understand what you are doing before you do it. Below is a wikipedia article just to get you started, as well as a little extract from the BBC:
When you do start reading, you'll definitely gain an understanding that given the length of our races, rowers don't need to be super extreme in our approach. The rule of thumb we used at club and school level rowing was to not change what we ate too much in race week. Having a healthy diet the rest of the season was important, and so by maintaining that good quality diet that our body was used to (and slightly increasing the carbohydrate elements of that diet), we avoided any stomach surprises! Everybody is different - for some people a high fat diet is currently in vogue, while others are all about paleo living...so again, we'd just remind you that this isn't our area of expertise and a dietitian or nutritionist should be able to give you an insight into how your body operates.
Recovery and hydration
Regardless of what diet you do end up going for on race week, two hugely important factors (particularly in a full week regatta) are keeping hydrated and eating for recovery. From a hydration point of view, just keep an eye on your urine - make sure it's not dark and murky - but again, don't go overboard and drown yourself in fluids to the point of making you feel off! Just keep a drink bottle in your hand, be sensible, and aim not to get to the point of being super thirsty.
From a recovery perspective, a good rule of thumb is to have something with a hi GI factor (white bread, jellybeans...basically something sweet) - at hand as soon as you get off the water. You've got a 20 minute window to really benefit from that energy input. If you can't rush that food in, just make sure you eat something in the 2 hours after your race.
What about caffeine and supplements?
When you hit the top level of rowing you'll start to notice some of the athletes will use things like caffeine, sodium bi-carbonate and other supplements to boost their race day performance. For a club or school rower, taking these supplements is a risky business. Even the veteran rowers who have used those supplements for a few years still run the risk of not getting the dosage, timing, or method of consumption right. Get any of those things wrong and the supplement goes from giving a slight boost, to leaving you possibly needing bowel movements in the boat, or completely zonked out and crashing. We've included them in this blog because we know that they get discussed around the boat park and athletes might decide they want the boost they give - but we just want to emphasise that there are definite downsides involved and certainly at club or school level the juice may not be worth the squeeze. If you do look to use any type of supplement, consult a dietitian or nutritionist, and be sure to have done a dummy test of using it well before your big race day. Personally - we never went near them!
Know your own body
The bottom line for us with food and drink on race day is it's something you have to figure out for yourself over time. The top athletes in New Zealand have had years of experimenting with what works for them and even they are constantly tweaking what they do to get it perfect. As a club or school level rower, just be sensible come race week. Hopefully you will have had a high quality diet all season, so when race week comes around don't change it too much. Keep your fluids up, eat a few hours before your race, and top up with something straight after and you should be on track to keeping your body fueled through a race week. Again, these are just things we have picked up along the way, and your local dietitian or nutritionist will be able to give you far more specific expertise for what will help you in particular.
With a single on the way to Australia and three heading to the South Island, we thought it was important to let you know that SLRacing will now freight directly in NZ.
No more waiting for the trailer to be full to be sent to the South Island. We will freight directly to you, and best of all - it's all included in the price of the boat. We'll continue to make little improvements like this to continually improve our service to client's right throughout the country, and, in time, the world.
THIS WEEKEND'S REGATTAS
With the major regattas of the year starting to get underway, we'll be aiming to have our repair tent at as many as possible. This weekend, Hamish Lack will be at Karapiro - his number is 027 306 4441 if you need to get hold of him.
Unfortunately, with such a busy workshop, Simon is unable to make it to South Islands this weekend but we'll be sure to see everyone down south at Nationals and South Island Secondary Schools in the coming weeks.
We reckon one of the best things about rowing is that no matter where you go in the world you have an amazing community of like minded people to show you around and help you out whenever you're in need. Yesterday at our workshop we were proud to be able to help out our friend and double Olympic Champion, Hamish Bond, when he came in need of some carbon repairs. If you haven't seen some of the headlines in New Zealand, Hamish has shifted focus since the Olympics - trying his legs at cycling. He's been in Hawkes Bay making his last preparations for the New Zealand National Road Cycling Champs - which happens to have a time trial running straight past our workshop. Unfortunately, with just a few days to go before the race Hamish hit the deck while practicing on that time trial course, not only fracturing a few bones in his body, but also doing a bit of damage to his bike. Luckily, rowers are made of tough stuff, and Hamish hopped back on his bike, finished out the ride and brought it our way for a little bit of patch up work.
We certainly don't get many bike repairs come through our workshop, but as far as we're concerned, once a rower, always a rower - so there was never any doubt we'd get to work on that cycle. Helping out rowers wherever we go and wherever we can is a big focus of SL Racing - it's why we always have a repair tent at regattas...fixing any type of boat that comes our way. While we won't be setting up a bike shop any time soon, it was awesome having Hamish through the shed, and our money is on him doing extremely well in that Time Trial tomorrow. You can't keep a good rower down!
As an extra bonus Steve from Rowing Celebration just happened to be floating around our sheds when Hamish brought the media along with him. He took a few photos that we've shared on our Facebook page - and has an amazing knack for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to getting incredible photos of the rowing world! A few of those pics are shown below.
Who are SL Racing?
We’re a rowing boat manufacturer that set up shop in Hawkes Bay in 2010. It’s a family business, owned by myself and my brother Hamish. We built our own workshop at the bottom of our family section.
Why did you set up in Hawkes Bay?
We love Hawkes Bay. It’s a beautiful part of the world and it seemed the natural choice when starting SL Racing. Boats are coming into New Zealand from all over the world now, and there isn’t that same need to be based in Cambridge as there used to be. By being in Hawkes Bay we can keep our overheads lower (which means more affordable boats), have access to a port for exporting, and utilise some of the forward thinking and smart manufacturing companies that are in the Bay. It’s also a lifestyle choice – with friends and family based here, we have an incredible support network that lets us focus on making a top quality product.
Why did you start SLRacing?
A lot of the rowing community knows that my boatbuilding career started with KIRS, but what they might not realise is that in 2009 I was looking to purchase that company. After 18 months of discussions, my offer was turned down, and in retrospect, that was the best thing that could have possibly happened. I realised that I wanted to start my own company and start producing boats that I could be proud of. I thought I could produce a better NZ made product than what was available, and do it for a lower price.
SL Racing boats are now seen throughout NZ and Australia, how have you got to this point?
Hard work. We have built and paid for every part of SL Racing including moulds, machinery and infrastructure from boats we have either sold or repaired. When SL Racing opened it was just myself and Hamish working through very long hours to make sure the boats went out. Over the years we’ve been able to hire 3 full time employees, along with a few part timers and a great group of contractors who have specialties that assist us from mould making to engineering and RnD. With our current growth rate it looks like we will need another two employees per year.
What makes SL Racing different to your competition?
Because of the attention to detail and performance of our hulls.
We invest in keeping our production consistent, taking steps like building laminating rooms which are climate controlled, so every boat is built in exactly the same conditions no matter the season. Because of our lower overheads, the smarter way we make our boats and the way we have grown the company, we are able to offer boats at the most competitive prices. We then combine that low price with a commitment to quality that we stand behind (every hull that leaves our shed has a 5 year warranty).
Finally, Hamish and I are both rowers, so that means we understand all the little details – what feels good, and what doesn’t, as a rower in a boat. We’re constantly investing in research and development to make both the little details and the overall boat better and faster. We will never rest on our laurels.
What is SL Racing’s approach to business?
It all starts with not being ‘showy’. The ‘head down, bum up’ approach is one that rowers throughout New Zealand bring to their training every day and we’ve brought that attitude into our business. We won’t post a photo of every boat we make because we have our focus on getting the next boat out, not patting ourselves on the back.
We like all our staff to ‘think smart’ about any issue they tackle in the workshop and have a very hard working ethic. We push them to be client focused because we take pride in the fact that every boat that comes out of our sheds is a boat we would love to row ourselves. From day one we’ve always made sure we have a forward thinking approach to what we are doing. Along with constantly developing our boats, that also means we have made a huge investment in holding stock. Ultimately that comes at a big cost to us, but it means that we can build any boat at any time without waiting on suppliers.
So where to next for SL Racing?
Right now we’re focussed on two things – improving our service to our current clients, while expanding our sales both in New Zealand and overseas. We’ve just hired travelling reps in both the North and South Island to make sure that if a client has something that needs attention, we have someone that can come to them and provide that one on one support we think is so important. On a global scale, our Australian and American sales reps are just getting into the swing of things and over time we will slowly look to expand into overseas markets. We’ve adopted a slow and managed approach to expansion, and whenever we do grow we always want to make sure the service to our current clients is a priority. A recent goal we have set ourselves is to make sure we have SL Racing boats being rowed by top international athletes at the next Olympics. We know our boats are quick, so we’re now just in the process of identifying the right talent to represent SLR on the international stage.
Any more words for the rowing community reading this?
Yes, two big ones – thank you. Starting any business is a risk, and without the rowing community getting in behind us we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’ll always be hugely grateful for every new client we get, and every smile we see when someone hops into our boats. When it comes down to it, we started SL Racing because we love this sport. It gives us so much pride seeing an athlete grinning when they get out of one of our boats, and that’s what makes this company tick. So, to everyone that has been involved in our journey, THANK YOU…and to any that are yet to experience the SL Racing difference, we look forward to meeting you!
We’ve had some really interesting conversations with rowers and club members recently about painting rowing boats and why we predominantly produce white boats for our customers. This blog we’ve decided to give you our opinion on the decoration of boats and why we suggest a single colour – preferably white – as the best option when it comes to rowing boats.
Over the last couple of decades that we have been involved in the rowing world we have seen a few trends in paint and boat design swoop through the rowing ranks for short periods. In the early 2000’s a ‘two tone’ colour palette was all the rage, with KIRS in particular producing a lot of boats with coloured tips fading to a central part of the boat. That fad seems to have died out a little bit now – and whether that be a matter of taste, or just the changing of the guard in boat builders around the country, we’re not too sure.
What we are sure of is that only using one colour makes a lot more sense than an intricate paint job. Fundamentally, that comes back to the fact that clubs and schools around the country row their boats for kilometre after kilometre up waterways that often have the odd hazard in them, and take them in and out of sheds where riggers and ‘pointy’ objects have a tendency to snag a boat. What this means is that every season boatmen, coaches and rowers inevitably end up having to repair holes and damage to their boat’s hulls.
More often than not, a quick patch isn’t necessarily the biggest issue, what becomes an ongoing problem is if the paint job is complicated or in a colour that is different to the repair-work. All of a sudden a beautiful looking boat has a patch in the paint that is a different colour, which stands out.
Painting and fading out a coloured patch is a simple task for a seasoned professional in the right conditions (like SL Racing's spray booth) but in club rooms it is a very hard job to get right. White is with no doubt the easiest colour to match. Even if the colour white is slightly off, you will not notice it as much as another colour, especially a red, yellow or blue.
Taking that practicality a step further, we also build our boats to last a long time. At a minimum our boats all come with a 5 year hull warranty. When you then take a boat that is painted in a dark colour out into the elements for five years (I hear New Zealand’s sun can be brutal!), it has an impact. Paint shouldn’t fade if its darker, but the darker the paint colour on the hull, the more impact it has on the hull over time. Try putting your hand on a dark coloured car in the middle of a summers day, we all know you can’t keep it on.
While we are not saying that you have to keep to one colour (and we are happy to paint any boat any colour - it doesn't make much difference at our end) but always feel it's important to keep our customers in the know. There is a reason that a company like Empacher has produced their boats in a light, single colour for decades - it’s just the smart thing to do.
If you are serious about racing and serious about longevity in your equipment, then first and foremost consider a light single colour paint job for your boats. It will be cheaper and have less complication's like colour matching when it comes time to repair and lets be honest, there will be a time.
As the clock ticks ever closer to that first race at the Olympics, we continue our attempt at predictions with the heavyweight doubles and pairs.
Mens Pair (M2-)
New Zealand..............................Great Britain, Australia
The Men's Pair has been absolutely dominated this Olympic cycle by the Kiwi Pair. We can't see anyone heading them off for the gold, but the really interesting racing will take place for the minor medals. Our pick is that the Great British pair will come closest, but watch for Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands fighting it out for silver and bronze as Murray and Bond defend their Olympic title.
Womens Pair (W2-)
Great Britain, New Zealand, USA
This is shaping up to be an absolute humdinger of a three horse race. Yes, the Brits have dominated the last few years, but the Yanks and Kiwi's have been rapidly staking their claim for a possible gold medal spot. We have picked the British to take this one out, but this could easily be an upset.
Mens Double (M2x)
Croatia, New Zealand, Lithunia
The Men's Double is another event that has had a dominant crew leading the way the last couple of seasons, but a determined chasing pack have been getting closer and closer. The Croatian's have been the pacesetters, with the New Zealand crew of Harris and Manson taking out the last World Cup while the Croatian's rested up. Our NZ leanings tell us the kiwi's might get up to threaten the Croatians, but no matter how it unfolds you can be sure this event will be hotly contested, with Lithunia and Germany not to be written off as gold medal prospects.
Womens Double (W2x)
Lithunia, New Zealand, Greece
Of all the picking we've done so far, the women's double was definitely the trickiest to pick a top three for. The Lithuanians and Greeks have been strong this season, as have Poland and Australia...then creeping their way up regatta after regatta have been the New Zealanders. The Dick Tonks coached crew will have done some serious kilometres this Olympic cycle, it remains to be seen if that will lead to broken bodies, or a legendary last race like the Ever-Swindells in Beijing.
Those are our quick picks. Comment below or on our Facebook page and let us know where we have got it wrong...and where we have nailed it.
The SLRacing crew has now touched back down in New Zealand after a phenomenal time over in Rio supporting every rower and athlete competing. As always, there was a real mixture of jubilation and heartache this time around, particularly on the rowing course, as New Zealand Rowing did incredibly well, but didn’t quite hit the targets they had set themselves.
We threw our picks into the mix before the regatta and it's only fair we go back and give a recap on how we did. Below are what we picked, and what actually happened – with 1 point for putting a crew as an ‘outside chance’ in our picks, 2 points given for correctly choosing a crew in the medals, and 3 points for correctly choosing the right medal.
LWM2x (5 points)
Final result: France, Ireland, Norway
Our picks: France, Norway, South Africa
We got the winner, but the big surprise here was Ireland. They rowed a fantastic regatta, and an inside word we heard on the course was that their last training block had them rowing phenomenal km's and pushing their bodies far harder than most athletes would be able to.
LWM4- (5 points)
Final result: Switzerland, Denmark, France
Our picks: NZ, Switzerland, Denmark
New Zealand dropping down the placings cost our picks here. The entire order shuffled up and the Swiss (coached by kiwi Ian Wright) showed their class.
M1x (5 points)
Final result: NZ, Croatia, Czech Republic
Our picks: NZ, Czech Republic, Cuba
A bold pick by us to choose Cuba over the strong Croatian meant we didn’t quite nail this podium. How about that finish though?!
M2- (3 points)
NZL, South Africa, Italy
NZ, GB, Australia
Well we got the winner right, but who didn’t?! A dominant display yet again from Bond and Murray. Italy and South Africa held off the chasing pack for the minor medals.
M2x (5 points)
Croatia, Lithunia, Norway
Croatia, NZ, Lithunia
Another NZ crew not making the podium meant our picks were off for the men's double. Croatia were typically dominant, although for a few strokes there we thought the Lithunian’s might take them. If the kiwis had made the final, who knows how it could have gone.
M4- (7 points)
Great Britain, Australia, Italy
GB, Australia, (Italy/Netherlands)
Our best result – picking all the winners but being too cautious with the bronze medal pick to take home all the points!
M4x (3 points)
Germany, Australia, Estonia
Australia, Canada, (GB, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, NZ)
The tightness of the M4x field really shows in that we picked 7 different boats we thought might make the podium and still didn’t get it right with Estonia taking home bronze.
M8+ (5 points)
Great Britain, Germany, Nederlands
Germany, Netherlands, USA (GB)
What can we say here – Great Britain showed some class and completely debunked our fourth place pick for them. The Germans and the Dutch pulled through though, so we at least get a few points.
LW2x (5 points)
Nederlands, Canada, China
NZ, Canada, Netherlands
The Nathan Cohen coached Chinese crew zipped up to take bronze, keeping the kiwi lighty double out of the mix, but other than that we weren’t far off. The smart money was probably on the Netherlands after they qualified, but sometimes you just have to make that risky pick!
W1x (2 points)
Australia, USA, China
NZ, Australia, Czech
Being over in Rio with Emma Twigg’s support crew, this was one of the hardest results to stomach. A strong tailwind meant the shorter race (time wise) suited China, the USA and Australia, and ET just ran out of water to reel them in. The class of Mirka Knapkova didn’t even make the A-final, so only a lowly 2 points for us in the women's single.
W2- (6 points)
Great Britain, NZ, Denmark
GB, NZ, USA
The womens pair almost went to script with the dominant GB crew taking out gold and the NZ crew chasing them hard. We hadn’t even noticed Denmark going into the regatta, but right from the heats they proved to be a hot contender and took out the bronze over the more favoured American crew.
W2x (2 points)
Poland, Great Britain, Lithunia
Lithunia, NZ, Greece
Unlike the women's single, the women's double results were helped out by the first decent headwind in a final all season. The strength of Great Britain really showed, while the Greek crew with an ex-lightweight in it struggled into the breeze. Again, if NZ had made the final, it could have been all on.
W4x (5 points)
Germany, Nederlands, Poland
Germany, Poland, Austria
Not far off getting these picks right, we were amazed at the tightness of the racing. Germany were really pushed and the Netherlands raced a fantastic race.
W8+ (3 points)
USA, Germany, Romania
NZ, USA, Canada
A little bit of over-patriotism in our camp had us pick the kiwi girls for gold in the women's 8. That wasn’t to be, as they struggled to fight for the podium and perhaps a condensed schedule hurt their chances with two top rowers doubling up in the pair.
Overall, that left us with a score of 61 out of a possible 126. If this was an exam, we would have failed with only 48% of our picks correct! It really does go to show just how tough the Olympics are, and how close all the top crews in the world can be on any given day. In 2020 we might have to create a picking game and extend it out to the public so you can see just how much better than us you are at predictions.
For now, we’ll stick to boat building!
The eights have become such a popular event at this year’s Olympics that you’ll struggle to find a ticket to the packed out grandstand anywhere…trust us, we’ve tried! Full of excitement, and with some young New Zealand crews staking their claim, here are our picks for the big boats.
Germany, Netherlands, USA (GB)
The men’s eight turned seriously interesting this year. For most of the Olympic cycle the German’s held dominance…punishing the rest of the field in race after race. Slowly the British crew started to creep up closer to them, stacking more of their top rowers into the boat to make a difference. Then, this year, the Dutch struck. The Netherlands have popped to the front of the field this year, but our gut tells us that the clinical Germans will be back as the ones to beat come Rio. The USA, always strong in the eights, will move up to attack that third spot…and our pick is for the Brits to be in that close but no cigar fourth spot!
NZ, USA, Canada, (Great Britain)
We’re going to throw this out there…New Zealand will win an eight. Even better, a New Zealand women’s crew will win the eight! It would have been odd to be writing those words four years ago in London, but the kiwi womens 8+ has stormed into contention this time around. If they can stay close to the States and Canada we are backing them to come through in those crucial last couple of hundred metres and take all the glory. The Brits will be in the mix as well, but like the men, we are picking that they’ll have to settle for fourth.
That’s it folks! All of our picks for the Rio Olympics done. Post Olympics we’ll have a look at how well we picked or how far off we were.
We've narrowed down our picks for the fours and quads, but we have one big bolter to watch that we haven't mentioned below - the Russian four. With the majority of their rowers being sidelined due to the country's drug infringements, the remaining rowers have all been put together into a four. We're expecting that four to go pretty well...logic dictates that combining four of the countries better rowers should result in a powerful unit - so it will all come down to how well those four guys gel together in this short timeframe. You watch...there may be some raised eyebrows if that Russian four competes for the podium.
Great Britain, Australia, (Italy, Netherlands)
We love the men’s four. Combining the finesse of the pairs with the power of the eights, it’s one of those events that you see different styles and sizes of crews battling it out and doing well. This year looks like it is coming down to another classic Australia v Great Britain face off. The smooth, flowing style of a slightly smaller Australian crew, versus the raw horsepower of the Brits. So far the GB crew has had the better results this season, but if the Aussies can get a lead and hold onto it until the last few hundreds…it’s anyone’s game. Fighting for the bronze, look out for the Netherlands and fast finishing Italians. Extremely good crews in their own right, we don’t think they’ll quite manage to knock off the commonwealth duo.
Australia, Canada, (GB, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, New Zealand?!)
This Olympic cycle the Men’s Quad has been an absolute nail-biter of a field. Every crew in the field could make the final, and every crew in the final could take out the top spot. We’re picking Australia to take out the Gold and Canada to go close, but our heart lies with the plucky New Zealand crew that got given last minute qualification a few weeks ago. There’s something telling us that their experience in not making the cut will have driven them even further in training these last few weeks, and that they perhaps freshened up a bit post World Cup. Either way, let’s cross our fingers for a fairy tale story.
Germany, Poland, Australia
A constantly reshuffled German crew are the ones to pick in the women’s quad. With such a strong squad in general, the German’s seemed to have focused their sculling power into the quad in the last few regattas and that has made them almost untouchable. Poland will be there, and Australia should threaten, but look for a little bit of German dominance.
This week we put a spotlight on the lightweight events. By restricting the weight average in the crew, the max power output of each crew is kept remarkably similar – creating events with some of the tightest and most exciting racing at any regatta. Get ready to throw a blanket over all of these fields…
Lightweight Men's Four
New Zealand, Switzerland, Denmark
With a proposal floating around to axe the lightweight men’s four from the next Olympic Games, there is an added significance in taking out Rio’s title. Year after year this event produces spectacular times and neck and neck racing, with this year set to be no exception. Our NZ lightweight four took home a couple of gold medals from the World Cups this year, all with a reserve filling in for injured Pete Taylor. We’re eager to see if adding the stalwart back in propels the boat even further forward in the field, or if the Ian Wright coached Swiss crew can pin the kiwis back. Denmark’s always a favourite for this event as well, and China presents a huge ‘watch out’ factor.
Lightweight Men's Double
France, Norway, South Africa
With no kiwi crew racing in the lightweight double this year, the racing has nonetheless kept us riveted. The French have been dominant and looked good while winning races, but the Norwegians and South African’s definitely shouldn’t be written off. We wouldn’t be surprised to see another storming run from the South African’s, emulating their lightweight four victory in London.
Lightweight Women's Double
New Zealand, Canada, Netherlands
Several years ago in the Beijing Olympics, a Dutch lightweight women's double snuck through in the last chance qualifying regatta before storming home to win gold. This year the stage is set for them to repeat those same heroics – qualifying earlier this year, and dominating proceedings in the following World Cups. Our money though is going to go on the gritty New Zealanders. They’ve risen to the occasion before and will be hungry to be back on the top of the podium. Watch out for Canada to be coming back into the racing scene and asserting their dominance, and for Great Britain to turn around a woeful season by their standards and get back to the top. All in all though, this is one of those Olympic events that could go anyway on the day.
With the Rio Olympics looming on the horizon and international crews in the last stages of their training, we thought we'd lay it on the line and put our picks for each event out there. Here we go...
Mahe Drysdale (New Zealand), Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic), Angel Fournier Rodriguez (Cuba)
Our patriotic leanings put Mahe at the head of the mens single pack, but this is going to be a ding dong battle. With Synek not racing at the last world cup, Drysdale had a real fight against Damir Martin from Croatia, he just snuck through, but looked controlled and focused in doing so. Rodriguez might be the wild card here, if any of the top scullers can be said to have a home field advantage it might be the Cuban. Top level racing rarely heads to South and Central America, so we're keen to see if this gives the powerful Rodriguez a boost. Our pick - Mahe by a canvas.
Over the weekend we saw some amazing racing from some incredible athletes. At the same time, George Bridgewater was reflecting on his past few years pursuing his Rio Olympic dream and reality of not quite making that regatta. It's a tough transition, and the reality is more rowers experience the hard grind than that ultimate glory, so upon reading George's words we had to ask if he would let us share them on our website. Below are George's musings, they are poignant, insightful and incredibly relevant to anyone who is currently rowing and who will ultimately find themselves on another path in the future. George, we can't thank you enough for letting us share this very personal post of yours, it's a fantastic reflection of you as both a rower and a person.
"Well, I said that in time I would write more...
Sport can be very black and white. At least in contrast to many other things in life where there is a lot in between. Often we are encouraged early in life to get as much sport in as possible. Perhaps parents feel it teaches their kids things that theory cannot and how to deal with situations or how to deal with people. But often this stops as the teenage years roll on and school finishes – organized sport is no longer as easy stepping out of class and onto the field. Work takes up more time and if we’re lucky exercise becomes something that is squeezed in between nights at the pub to resemble a human being that’s healthy enough. Not many experience sport as an all-consuming roller coaster ride that most full-time athletes will.
Functioning in this world that is so black & white, so immediate in its feedback every day, has been exhilarating. Can you imagine four years of work coming down to one six minute performance, where you need to be physically, mentally, emotionally en pointe to measure your effort for the last four years? What if just one member of your team got injured or sick? For something that is so physical, the contrasting delicacy of the situation is so stark that it’s almost comical. In training, you can win a session in the AM and feel confidence is sky high, and then come back later that day and lose a session to the same opponent. Your body and mind sharpens to being in a competitive environment and you begin to be ready for anything because that’s what you are practicing for.
For me, after I left rowing competitively, I initially embraced the life of an office worker. Sitting in a chair for 12 hours a day on the 36th floor in Hong Kong, gym after work two weekdays plus Saturday mornings, weekends free to do what I wanted, bars, restaurants, holidays etc. The novelty lasted for a bit, it was great to be getting an income and have a ‘job’. But after a few months, I realized I wasn’t near to being world class at this new job and it became disappointing to deal with the fact that ‘you’re not good at what you do’ (of course I am not so unrealistic to think that I would, it’s the contrast between the two worlds and everything that goes with that which was a sea-change). I don’t think this was specific to the job or industry I was working in, just when you try something new and worthwhile, you’re most likely not to be good at it to begin with. After a couple of years I figured out how to get by, but also realize how people change according to your standing in the hierarchy – which obviously changes significantly from organization to organization. The learning was ongoing every day, which was one of the big upsides, but after two years I had learnt enough to not say stupid things and which people were to be avoided. From that point on, as I came up for air and took a look around, my confidence grew but satisfaction did not come with it. As a cog in a machine, any member of our team could take a day off or be on holiday and the rest of the team functioned perfectly well. This didn’t sit particularly well with me and I sought something else, something more lucid.
It’s my belief that, for many spectators, sport is craved on a primal level because of its physically, emotionally charged unpredictability. And it’s very clear who is the best at the end of the day. Humans are outcome-oriented creatures; watch a movie and there is always a sense of closure at the end – and if there is not, we will usually lament the fact. Sport offers the ultimate non-fatal short timeframe outcome – and we like to believe it is played fairly and to the best of individual ability. With corruption, or doping, sports become infected – outcomes become scripted and predictable, and sport will gradually become less and less competitive. Our international governing bodies and committees hold so much responsibility in keeping things on the right track, and in these times its just so difficult to have faith across the board that sport and sport management is pure.
To me, one of the beautiful things about rowing is that money hasn’t quite corrupted (although the wolf is never far from the gates when the sport is brought into the Olympic fold). International rowers race maybe twice a year and those races are generally dead-beat boring-to-watch – even ever-supportive parents usually only fly to the destinations that have the better holiday bolt-ons. It’s not a spectator sport so therefore it is not a sport that generates a lot of money. Like many things, the presence of money determines the size, shape and direction of the sphere. And with higher cash stakes involved, the more likely doping lurks beneath the surface.
The people involved in rowing generally aren’t naturally gifted athletes, often large people with limited coordination which has ruled them out from other more popular sports. They don’t play for money, they play to challenge what is possible from minds and bodies that otherwise would have gone out and got an office job somewhere. They’ve put starting a career, or a family, substantially on hold to follow a passion in which ability peaks only too early in life. What else could you be the best in the world at age 25?
Its been a hell of a journey returning to rowing after five years away – and after the first step of making the decision to return, not a day has been daunting.
So despite my failing to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio, which will be held in a couple of months' time, there are no regrets about putting career on hold. The journey has been rewarding and most days have been exciting, rather than arduous.
It’s hard to explain a lot of the learning’s, particularly the minutiae, but understanding what makes me feel happy has been particularly practical. I’ve realized that I am a person who needs to understand what my role in the big picture or mission is, and while this sounds obvious, in some settings it’s not really apparent. Learning can be from both positive and negative situations, enhancing the arsenal which we can complete tasks with, but to be around passionate and courageous people who are clear in purpose is especially endearing and something I will continue to prioritize wherever it is a possibility." - George Bridgewater