Interview: Edouard Blanc, Assistant Coach CUBC

Edouard BlancRowperfect caught up with Edouard, the newly appointed Assistant Coach working at Cambridge University Boat Club with Chris Nilsson.

When did you first become interested in coaching? 

I started coaching as a volunteer at the age of 20 in my home club "Rowing Club Lausanne" at a national level first. After a couple of years coaching I achieved good results with the juniors and senior group and was offered a professional coaching position in Geneva. Soon after I went to take the Swiss Olympic coaches course and successfully passed this qualification. In result I moved on to be the Head Coach of the Société Nautique de Genève.

Where have you coached and what type of crews?

Being still quite young I thought that some international experience as a coach would allow me to learn more and to develop faster. I applied on the internet for the coaching job in Durham, and got it.  This was for me a good way to learn and see another rowing system. I have learned a lot there and had the opportunity to coach an U23 women's pair to a bronze medal whilst in Durham.

Wade Hall Craggs really helped there by having the confidence in my skills and letting me move forward with this boa club. This good experience made me understand that rowing is much bigger in the UK and that it was the place to work in the future.  The assistant coach job in Cambridge is a next step forward and I hope to be successful in this new position. I started coaching after having rowed myself at international level. A serious back injury meant I had to stop rowing internationally but as I really loved the sport I got involved into coaching.  One thing leading to another I got more and more involved.


You work with Chris Nilsson at CUBC, can you tell me how you learn working with another coach?

I see coaching rowing as a job that I really enjoy and where I can bring something special to the athletes I coach. Working with other coaches is exactly what I am looking for because it is the only way to exchange ideas, share experience and learn new things.  I am always open to new ideas and trying to understand different ideas of the rowing stroke allows me to implement new things in my day to day coaching.

Being open minded and ready to ask yourself if you could do things differently is what I believe to be most important in coaching. Obviously working with Chris is a great opportunity for me and I will take everything I can on board. 

What advice do you have for young coaches about how to improve their coaching skills?

My advice to people starting coaching would be to believe in what they do, and do it with passion. If you are not 100% going for it you will not achieve success… As a second thing I could say that the coach should always put the best athletes forward and reward them instead of spending too much time with the ones that do not improve.  The bottom people will then soon understand that they need to move forward too if they want to get some attention. 


What are your favourite skill drills and what do they teach?

One of my favourite drill is to row with your hands on the loom (wide grip / sculling) or inside hand only (in sweep boat) because it teaches the rowers to time their stroke with the boat speed.  Many rowers just want to push harder to make the boat go faster and often just end up with a big wash on the blade.  Only because they forget about the basics.  Applying power should be done very carefully and gradually because the speed of your work needs to match the speed of the boat. Only once the shell is moving faster you can apply more pressure.

A good drill also is to have 2 people in the eight just dropping their blade at the entry (catch position)  and just watch and feel (without touching it) how the blades comes back to you and how it actually accelerates (moves)… once you understand that you can begin to do it with your hands on and repeat what you saw and then add more pressure and gradually increase it. 

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