competition · racing · Rowing

My first ergatta!

This weekend I took part in my first ever ergatta, like a rowing regatta but indoors, using rowing machines. It was a very nice, locally organized event for high schoolers, the London High School Invitational Ergatta, to which we’d added a Masters’ class event. It was just our local group racing + one person from away which also made it less nerve wracking.

I enjoyed the mood and the atmosphere: the young racers, keen coaches, and excited parents.  It was fun to watch their technique and see some of the blazing fast times of the seniors just finishing high school, on their way to university rowing teams.

Our masters group arrived early and we had ample time to warm up with the ergs set aside in the space we usually use as a kitchen and meeting room.

We received some terrific advice from our coach in the days leading up to the race. He told us to pick a 500 m split time for which we’d aim in advance. Don’t try to wing it. “Pick something that you think will be challenging, but — importantly — something you’re confident you can hit.” His advice was to settle into that split time as soon as possible–ignore the adrenaline rush from the start (very hard for me–I’m a go out fast and collapse kind of gal!) and save the energy for the final sprint.  2 km is longer than you think, he wrote. And yes, indeed it is. You can’t all out sprint for 8 min but 8 min isn’t quite an endurance event either. It’s a tough distance. (You can read more about 2 km tests here.) He advised us to wait til the last 250 m and take up the pace then, going all out with everything we have left for the final 50 to 100m.

Terrific news. It worked!

My 500 m split times have been going down in the monthly 2 km tests we’ve been doing, from 2:11 for the very first one to 2:07 most recently. I picked 2:07 as the pace I’d maintain and while I couldn’t quite resist the urge to sprint a bit off the start I did remember the advice and held it steady at 2:07 for a long stretch. I had lots left in the tank to sprint at the end, finishing with a 2:04 split time. A new personal best.

I also won the women’s masters category. I finished first after the guys. I have a new hat. See photo below. But really the new PB matters more since there were women who would’ve beat me if they’d raced. Winning in a time trial like that is partly a matter of luck about who shows up.

Also, for some people it was their first time racing. It was my first rowing race but not my first race. I’ve done lots of running, triathlon, and bike races. And knowing how to handle getting ready for a race and how to deal with pre-race jitters helped, I think.

This time I finished in 8:16. My goal is for a sub 8 min time which seems doable. I wasn’t as wiped out this time as I have been in other 2 km tests. I think I could have picked something lower than 2:07 to hold but I didn’t know if I could do that so I didn’t try. Next time…

7 thoughts on “My first ergatta!

  1. Now the trick will be transferring the power on the erg to an actual boat in actual water! Without the proper technique and a smooth style, I’m told it’s all for naught.

  2. Masters is over 25, I think. And if you look it up, there are subcategories too. As of next year, I’ll be in the category beyond what I’m in now. Not that it matters, since I can’t imagine putting myself in a genuinely competitive situation.

    1. Yeah, I looked at the National rankings and they were broken down by decade which makes sense to me. In the context of erg-racing, it seems to me it really is a race against yourself. And you can be fiercely competitive with your past self I think without caring about how others do.

      In sailboat racing and bike racing there are things you do to make your opponent do worse (steal their wind, force them to sail off course by keeping right of way, or shaking people off who are trying to draft) but with the erg it’s just a one person drag race….

    2. Wow. It’s younger than that even!

      “A rower may compete as a Masters rower from the beginning of the year during which he or she reaches the age of 21.

      A Masters rower is placed in the age category corresponding to the age that he or she attains during the current year. The average and minimum ages exclude the coxswain.

      Mixed crew events may be held for Masters crews in which half of the crew excluding the coxswain are women and half are men. The coxswain may be of either gender.

      Age Categories:

      A: average age 27 or more
      B: average age 36 or more
      C: average age 43 or more
      D: average age 50 or more
      E: average age 55 or more
      F: average age 60 or more
      G: average age 65 or more
      H: average age 70 or more
      I: average age 75 or more”

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