Duncan Holland writes;

I promised yesterday to tell you how we got on today in the Cambridge Town Bumps . The answer is; very well.  We managed to get our third bump of the week and stand on the edge of a clean sweep and the right to Blades.

It was an instructive afternoon for me.  Again I found myself having to do what I normally tell others to do.  I have a fixed pre-race routine and it got disrupted yesterday when some guests we were expecting got lost and were late arriving.  This threatened to make me late.  It wasn’t a real threat as we had a Plan B, but I found myself exhibiting classic pre-race nerve symptoms.  I had to use some of the skills I try to teach to athletes and remind myself that there was an alternative, that we had a built in time reserve.  A good reminder that even the most experienced of us need to remember the basics, and that a plan with built in safeguards is worthwhile.

The crew performed well.  We managed to execute the plan we had made, managed to structure our race better, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  Now we have a chance to achieve what would be, for us, a significant step.  Blades would be a good effort; we have to make sure that we don’t slip up at the last hurdle.  Just as a crew that has won a semi-final at a Championship will try to focus on what to do in the final, not on the possibility of winning, we must try to live by the mantra ‘process not outcome’.  If we go out to race thinking of what might be we risk losing.  We must again think of what to do, listen to the cox’n, the coach, and think of what makes the boat fast, not what we want to achieve.

The event is local, the absolute level not great, but the skills we need tonight are the same ones the big boys will need at the Olympics.  And we are having fun, I hope they do too!


One thought on “Nerves.

  1. Dot says:

    It’s interesting to hear the views of someone who has a foot in both camps: the local club scene on one hand and the top athletes on the other. There seem to be many similarities in the build up and the mental preparation for an event.
    Clearly there are huge differences. We are a bunch of Old F*rts – aptly names “Blazing Paddles” by one of our crew – Dick Wallin, with a reference to a film which, if you don’t remember, then you aren’t one yourself! – if you do it will all make sense. However we have been approaching our mountain with lots of discussion, lots of thinking, lots of nervousness too. Top athletes would view our mountain as a molehill on the way to base camp of their own peak I am sure, but for us it’s definitely a mountain.
    We have had the singular pleasure and advantage of counting amongst the crew Duncan Holland, and also, and of equal importance his partner Raf Wyatt.
    So there we were, a bunch of old guys (apologies to Johnny youngster bowman). in the lead up to the bumps, well-coached by our club coach Dave Watson, when Raf volunteers to add her bit on top for the last 4 sessions (with us this means 2 weeks, not 2 days as it would be for top boats!). The difference has been startling and quite a lesson for any poor, reasonable or good crew to take note of. We were, naturally a ready audience. The highly targeted coaching from Raf has snapped us to attention in the boat and enabled us to achieve a position of focus and stability previously unthinkable. In effect her short spell of coaching must have added 5% to 10% to our speed – and this has not involved fitness coaching, work on strength etc, simply improvement of technique.
    Duncan probably expected this could happen. The rest of us didn’t and have enjoyed the experience immeasurably.
    David Levien

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