Rarely does everything always go to plan as we discovered in Munich at the third and final World Cup regatta. Here we were beaten by Australia, our main and closest competition, ending a 15-race winning streak for me in the coxless four. We were beaten in a very tight race by a very fast, efficient crew who look good together and row very well. These Australians have a very effective rhythm that allows them to use the power they produce in their stroke to maximum benefit and lets the boat travel a great distance with each stroke. In contrast, we have a powerful stroke and put in a lot of effort but so far we haven’t been able to transfer that into maximum efficiency and boat speed. We need to be more patient with each stroke and allow the boat to move for us, flow from stroke to stroke and resist the temptation to rush the hull. There is a balance in rowing that is nearly impossible to see from the bank. It is a feeling of relaxed movement and flow, reducing the negative forces on the hull while putting every ounce of energy into the stroke. It sounds like a contradiction but to a rower makes perfect sense. So far this season we have got away with our way of rowing but coming up against a crew with such pedigree and experience as the Australians, we need to make improvements.
This result was not actually a shock and as much as we were disappointed as a crew not to maintain our winning ways, we came off the water feeling positive about the result. It was nothing but a good thing for us to get beaten, better here than in the Olympic final, and it forces us to make much-needed technical changes. It is so easy to win a race and be happy with what you have and with what you are doing but you may not be reaching your potential. I have learnt that most improvements come from the mistakes we make and so this has come at a perfect time. We have new fire in our bellies and desire to significantly improve. We are not far off where we need to be, no doubt the Australians will gain more speed in the coming weeks but I am confident that we will too. There is one thing for sure, an Olympic gold is not an easy thing to come by, and come the 4th August on Dorney Lake, there will be an almighty battle to the finish line. The important thing for me and my crew is to enjoy every second of these coming weeks, we are facing a huge challenge but it is something we relish. We now head off to Austria for a gruelling altitude training camp where the last big push in strength and fitness will be made.