Archive for February, 2009

Speed 5 with Mahe Drysdale

Fresh off his win at the NZ Championships this past weekend I am happy to bring you Mahe Drysdale

Wolf -We all know you were here at the Head of Charles party this past year, now one of my fellow RBC members won the club four and he had a few too many drinks. Do you remember this sort of big dorky guy coming up to you and bragging that he won the Charles and you did not?                

 Mahe- Sorry I don’t remember this exact incident, He will need to try and harder next year to do something I cant forget! I was a little disappointed with my performance at the Charles last year, being 16KG over my race weight and spending 3 days training (since the Olympics) wasn’t the ideal preparation, and with Nathan Cohen and the NZ woman’s double winning it was easy to forget about the race and just enjoy the rest of the event. I always love coming to the Charles and this year I will be fit and looking forward to trying to take the title again, it has been my boogey event performance wise with 1 out 4 wins. The Party always makes you quickly forget the disappointments on the race course though.   

Wolf-  I have to ask and I am sure you hear it all the time , so what is the plan for this year for you, hell what is the plan for the next four years in regards to you rowing the single for NZ?              

Mahe- Good question and its been one its taken me awhile to answer. Initially I was going to take this year off from international racing and just go to “fun regattas” After my trip around to the fall regattas and some time off I started to get the rowing bug back. I was thinking I can sit around for a year waiting to get back into it or just go for it. I have now been back training full time for a month and am absolutely loving it. I have made a few changes and while its early days things are going great at this stage. I will be in London in 2012 and my goal is to be best I possibly can be. I still think I have some improvements to make and so will be working on those this year as I aim for the world championships. I have just won the National champs and on Sunday our trials start where I will try and secure the single sculls spot for the Worlds this year.    

Wolf-- All what is a typical training day like for you? What is your workload like?     

Mahe- We train 6 days a week and usually do 2-3 sessions a day for a total of around 14 sessions a week. Most of our time is spent on the water with a couple of sessions in the gym we would look at averaging around 200KM per week with each session being anywhere from 16-30KM long.  

Wolf - So in the past four years what has been you best race and what made it so?   

Mahe - That’s a tough one. I have 3 stand out races and they are my 3 world championship finals races. 2005 was most surprising and I have never felt more elation than after winning, being my first worlds medal was also special. 2006 2nd 1000M was my most gutsy and I call it the “get out of Jail” race, I made some errors early but felt relieved at the end that I had come back and made up for my mistakes taking a very tight win and world best time.  Probably my most satisfying and when I think about it probably my best ever race was Munich 2007. I was confident, rowed well and at no point felt like I was going to loose. I always felt in control and when I took off at the 1000M mark there was no one that could keep up, that was very satisfying and I think it was all the more special for me because early on in that year things didn’t go well with a 4th place at the 2nd world cup.   

Wolf- I have to ask this one as well or it just would not be me and my readers would kill me, why not a double with Waddell and let the little guy Cohen have a go in the single for a year? Just one year?!      Mahe-Never say never! I think we are both too set on the single. I love the single and that will always be my first choice but would be interested to try the double one day to see how it goes.  

Extra 1 Wolf-So you have traveled the world and seen many people and places, where are the best looking women?  What do you think I was going to say where is the best race course?     

 Mahe- That’s a tough one because everywhere we travel we usually have people from all over the world. I have to say numbers wise the Head of the Charles attracts the biggest numbers of stunners but the Dutch and the Swedes are always hard to beat.

Posted on February 23rd, 2009 by sean  |  1 Comment »

Speed 5 with Bo Vestergaard head of training for the Danish Center of Rowing

Good morning all  

I thought would do my best to touch base with someone on the international level for a special Speed 5.  One of our avid users put me in touch with Bo Vestergaard.



Bo is head of training for the Danish Center of Rowing, providing workouts to the Danish rowing elite. - Bo’s work includes: developing targeted seasonal time- and training plans, tailored to the practitioner’s age and level, and developing detailed objectives, action plans and evaluations for / with individuals and teams Bo also teaches the understanding and use of sport psychology tools

  Simply put Bo trains that really fast dude Henrik Stephansen, you know the guy who broke 6:00 min as a lightweight!!!  You want to know what this guy is on he is on   Check it out and learn how to train like the Danes !!!  


I would like to thank Jakob Øjvind Nielsen for hooking us up. 

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 Cheers Sean Wolf www.rowingillustrated.comWhere real rowers talk real rowing.    

Wolf  ”What workouts do you feel are the most essential for any training program, 
what are his favorites/most productive for the athletes power?”


BO- It is important that the athletes know the purpose of his training program – what he wants to achieve - because no training program is inherently good for everybody. A good training program is one that mixes large amounts of low training and a relatively small amount of high intensity - that’s how you get the different energy systems in the body to supplement each other. But exactly how you should mix intensities is entirely dependent on the goals of each individual athlete and on his or her fitness level. In Rojabo, we’ve developed a method for testing that level and planning your training program accordingly. You can read more about it at


Wolf- ”Rumor has it that the Danish lwts do higher intensity and power training 
more than the avg team, or more consistently throughout the year. Is this 
the case?”


BO-Yes. In Denmark all athletes even at the highest levels either study or work, so even though people try to adapt their work-hours to their training schedule, there is a culture of training shorter at higher intensity – especially in the winter - to make it all fit together. 


Wolf- ”What is Rojabo? And who are they, how did they get started w/ Danish 
Rowing, & what is their role now?”

BO- Rojabo is an online training scheduler for serious rowers founded last year by me, Bo Vestergaard, and my partner, Jakob Øjvind Nielsen.


Starting with the ‘who’ - I myself won seven WC medals, two of which were gold, and later on – as a coach – I’ve had different teams win both WC and Olympic medals. In the last eight years I’ve been developing and supplying training programs for the Danish National Team. Jakob Øjvind is also a former elite rower, who won a WC bronze medal under my training. Equally important, he is also a brilliant IT-developer.


The ‘what’ of Rojabo is a concept for developing individualized training programs using a set of testing procedures and a whole lot of math. This is the concept I’ve been developing and using in my work with the National Team, and it is the same concept which our customers can take advantage of. We currently support 25 Danish elite rowers with individual training programs. The goal, of course, is to create more WC and Olympic wins.


Wolf- ”There are a lot of very strong lwts in Denmark despite the country’s size. 
What contributes to the success of lwt rowing in Denmark more: The training 
program and coaches, or because rowing is viewed as a high profile sport 
and the best athletes want to row?”


BO- Good question! We’ve often asked ourselves what exactly is the key to the successes of Danish lwts. I like to think that the training makes a difference, of course. But there are also other important factors to be considered.


Denmark is a small country – really small – and Copenhagen is the only major city. Because of that, all national level athletes are easily persuaded to move to Copenhagen where not only the National Team but also most of the major educational institutions and many major employers are located. That way all members of the National Team can easily train together on a daily basis and it is easy for the trainers to follow their development closely, which really gives their development curve a boost.


Rowing is certainly not a very popular sport here – especially not in the open classes where recruitment is a real problem. But it is a respected sport in the sense that those that practice it take it very seriously and are admired for it.


WOLF- ”Do you feel Henrik Stephansen will break the 5:55 time in the next year ?”


BO-Henrik Stephansen has the potential to row 2000m at 5.55 – definitely. He is only 20, and if he remains uninjured and continues training optimally, it is not unlikely that he might break the time next winter.


Wolf- ”How many gold medals do you see the Danish team obtaining in the next 
Olympics and in what events?”


BO- Denmark’s focus is on getting an LM4-, an LM2x, and an LW2x to the 2012 Olympics. The target is two gold medals in the LM4 and LM2x as well as a medal in the LW2x.


Posted on February 18th, 2009 by sean  |  2 Comments »

Speed 5 with Linda Muri - President of CRASH-B

Hi all,  With CRASHB’s upon us I welcome Linda Muri to the Speed 5. Linda is currently the president of Crash B’s and when she is not organizing the “World Championships” of indoor rowing she spends her days coaching at a dumpy little liberal arts school on the Charles.  For more of a history on Crash B feel free to click on the link below.  And if you’re a lightweight women in the sport you had best recognize, or turn in your scale!   -Now on with the speed 5       -Wolf- So why did they decide to a “weaken” the event and get rid of the qualifying format?   -  MURI- I am going to qualify this with it was a board decision and I was not president/commodore at the time.  I say, bring back the 5-miler.  Bring back the 2500m piece.  Bring back the 500m petites.  All kidding aside, we’re victims of our own success.  With over 2100 entries and 15-minute centers for the most part, we can barely keep up with the volume of a finals only format as it is.  This whole operation is run by volunteers save for an office/web manager and our timing and registration services.   

Wolf-Why doesn’t Crash-b tell you who is coming from satellite qualifiers or overseas countries?  Seeing big guns entered could be a big draw or add to the cache of competing there.

  Muri- C.R.A.S.H.-B does tell you who is coming from the satellite qualifiers and overseas.  It doesn’t show up until the complete list of heats and ergs is posted which is after we incorporate that so-called “missing” information fromConcept2 with our Ronin registration data.  C2 handles the satellite and overseas competitors for the most part since there is sponsorship involved with them.   

Wolf-I’ve heard that on the start of computer erg races, you lose your reaction at the start of the race - does that make it harder to PR or does that make erg racing more realistic to 2k rowing?

  Muri-I’d have to say I’ve never lost my reaction at the start of the race.  Only less training and possibly age have made it harder for me to PR.  If I were to compare it to rowing, I’d have to say the electronic start is more like the boot system used to hold bow balls at the start line of some of the higher level racing.  As for more realistic, I just read something which I’d like to quote, “An erg test is not a race, but rather a metaphor for rowing,” thanks to Todd Jesdale via Dr. Rowing.  It’s certainly given me pause for thought as we set the monitors for another 2k, but I believe the erg can hold its own just the same.   

Wolf- Who in all the years of crash’s B is best defined by being called a “hammer”?

  Muri- How could it be anyone by Tiff Wood, the Original, or shall we say, Classic Hammer.   

Wolf- Why doesn’t crash-b utilize the sliders and have colleges and countries race against each other in an eight format?  It would be so much more exciting.


Muri-I would love to bring up the possibility of adding events.  If I could find the room in the day to add events, I would.  The skulking specter of the NCAA would continue to make short work of anything fun collegiately, but an international event could work.  On the other hand, when we ran our mixed doubles event a couple of times a few years back, we had a hard time filling the spots.

    Extra 2-Only a coxswain would ask for an extra 2. 

Wolf - What are the true stories from the Crash-B “banquet”?

  Muri -Stories from the after party?  When we get together after the race for dinner, we tend to be so giddy that we’re easily amused and nothing bears remembering let alone repeating. I’ve found that the “true stories” are of people trying to get into the event after registration has closed which are probably the most interesting.  Suffice it to say I’ve seen a lot of creative excuses to get in, but the ones from parents trying to get their son/daughter in take the cake. This year alone, the beg, borrow, or steal routine has produced offers of volunteering all day on race day, driving to Boston to hand deliver the entry to me the next day, and paying whatever extra fee it would take.  Additionally, I’m amazed at how many computers crash around midnight just before entries close.  Someone should do a study.  Computers crashing, and illness, too. Apparently, the immune system appears to go on the fritz starting in mid-December when entries open and not kick in again until entries close in mid-February.  Again, another one for analysts.  I’ve actually been thinking about holding one spot open for the most creative reason why someone missed registration.  Everyone else, try the Bull Pen.   

Wolf- Why do you allow non has-beens into your organization?

  Muri- Are you jealous, or are you looking for a seat on the Board?  Ouch.   Lindanot quite Commodore-for-Life

Posted on February 16th, 2009 by sean  |  No Comments »

Speed 5 with Tom Paradiso

Good day all I am please to introduce today’s Speed 5 with Tom Paradiso, Tom has been a member of the USA lightweight team for MANY years  and recently competed in the 2008 Olympics as a member of the lightweight four, Tom also won a World Championships this past summer in the lightweight men’s eight.  Click below for his US Rowing bio. -

Hey Sean,

I am flattered to be chosen for a Speed 5 interview.  While I do post occasionally on Rowing Illustrated, it is not usually because some asks for my opinion :)

I like what you have been doing with the site, keep it up! 

Wolf - You the true lightweight of the USA program, for you rowed both sides last year leading up to the Olympics, (and I know you to be a good sculler as well) and you have no real issues of making weight, how do you do it, what is your secret?

Tom P -I think I just got lucky in High School that I had some great coaching from my first rowing practice.  We were a sculling program mostly, but when we did sweep we rowed both sides.  My coach used to tell us that if you can row both sides you have eight seats available to you in the eight instead of four.  During summer rowing in high school I would try and row a different side every time we swept.  My weight has never been a problem since I came down from a high of 177 my sophomore year of college.  I never put on that much in the winter, so getting back to 150 is not a problem.  There are advantages and disadvantages to that, however, I will never be a 6:10 guy on the erg and in selection I always have to seat race the 6:11s and 6:12s multiple times - even if I win the first one.

Wolf  OK you know this is coming, your a UPENN alum, what the heck is going on there? Some of the alums are up in arms and the program has lost some of its luster, how can they get it back for we all know Tom Paradiso is not walking back thru that door anytime soon?

Tom P-I graduated from Penn a couple of years before the transition from Coach Bergman to Coach Honebein.  It was a rocky transition, as can be the case when a program with a history like Penn’s decides a 20+ year coach with a history of success should step down.  I don’t think it was handled as well as it could have been by athletes, alums or the administration.  Right now Fred, with the heavies, and Mike Irwin, with the lightweights, are doing a great job rebuilding the mens programs.  The days of getting 20 recruited rowers are gone and they have to get guys who are going to row for four years interested in rowing at Penn.  The team has grown in numbers the last couple of years and we should see some of the results of that soon.

Wolf-  Can you give us a break down of how the light eight race went at Worlds last year?  Hell it must be nice being a World Champion!  

Tom P- Having been in the light eight in 2001, 02, 03 and 04 it was interesting racing that event again.  It also was great to see eight or nine crews at Worlds this year.  The race went as planned for us.  We were not very quick off the line (as we only rowed together less than 20 times before the final) and knew that it would be important to emphasize the start and then shift into a solid base.  I don’t remember our position exactly, but we were in second or third through the first five hundred and until around the thousand.  No secrets here, around the thousand Ned made a call to take the race and we did.  No flutter or rate shift, we just hit the gas pedal and moved into first.  We came through the last five with the lead but aware the germans were moving and the dutch were not too far back.  Our sprint was controlled and again called on power more than rate.  We crossed the line and that was it.  It was somewhat anticlimactic as four of us immediately shifted our focus to Beijing.  More on this in my answer to the next question.

 Wolf- The big scuttle butt on line last year was that with the USA light four going to Worlds and racing in the eight, affected you at the Olympics, did it?

Tom P- If I had to revise our post June 25th training plan this past summer I would not change a thing.  During training over the course of the winter we rowed the eight every so often to change it up and row in a boat moving at a faster speed than the four.  Trials was literally the day after we finished selection that included lots of seat racing.  After trials we rowed the eight a few times but mostly rowed two fours.  I do not think racing in Austria in any way changed the course of events in Beijing.  Here is one perspective:  we got 11th in 2007 at Worlds.  in 2008 we raced at worlds and got 11th again in Beijing.  Same result.  I don’t actually think of it that way, but that is one way to look at it.  I think that our performance in Beijing was determined by the training we did over the winter and the selection camp that occurred from May 1st (not sure about the exact date there) until June 25th.  Without going into it too much, we did as well as we could given the system we have in place.  I personally think May and June is way too late in the year to be running seat races for the Olympics but I will save that argument for 2012. 

Wolf -  Back in the day we were at ARCO together for a training trip and St Patrick’s day came about, we were supposed to go out for a beer or two that evening but you and the rest of our flat mates never woke me up and left me at the center in all alone with all my Irish heritage and no beer, how did that happen?  Was it NYAC vs. RBC thing?

Tom P- I think we all know whose fault that was.  Sam Stit.  He said you were sleeping and we should just go ahead without you.  Seriously though, I don’t remember that.  All I remember from that trip was when someone got in a fight with the coach and left.  I do apologize however and will buy you a Green San Adams if it happens again.
Wolf- So how much longer do you plan on being in the elite rowing game? 

Tom P-I think I will keep rowing at this level as long as I am having fun.  I actually like rowing the single so as long as I can train in that boat and still be in good enough shape to go to camp or win trials why not keep going?  I was lucky to be on the OJOP program from 2003-2007 and that really helped.  Right now I have a great part time job that is really flexible and if I can pay the rent rowing and working there, I think I’m in for another four years.  I also am interested to see what it is like with Tim McLaren heading up the coaching staff.

 Extra One
Wolf-  What is your favorite racing venue?

Tom P- Has anyone not answered this question with Lucerne who has raced there?  You can’t beat Lucerne for 2k racing.  For head races I like anything with lots of turns and bridges, they are a great distraction from the pain of racing 5k.

Posted on February 10th, 2009 by sean  |  No Comments »