Luke’s summer racing.

As promised, only about a day late, here’s Luke Epain’s account of his summer of racing in France.  He describes it very well and I think it’s best to let him do the talking, so here’s the story, only slightly abridged and edited for blog length. . .

Luke's light four. He's in three seat.

“So we qualified for nationals after going undefeated in the southwest region regattas.  In this senior national championship, there are only the long boats because the national trials for the 1x and 2- were in April.  Our club, Société Nautique de Châtellerault (SN Câtellerault), only sent a light four.  Our first race was the heats on friday evening, and we finished 2nd after a difficult start.  We were kind of disapointed because we didn’t feel like we had had a nice row.  However, we had the 4th time of all the heats, 6sec behind the top 3 that all finished in 6’17”.  These 3 crew all dominated their respective heats by open water.  This was predictable because of the guys in the boat.  Nantes has France’s top light pair, that recently beat the 2010 lm2- world champions at trials.  2 seat is a former world champion in the light 8, and has been finalist at worlds in the light pair.  Bow seat was medallist @ U23 worlds last year.  The other boats, Lyon and Grenoble also have mainly former or present national team members.

We skipped reps, and decided to race the semis with less pure force, and let the boat glide.  We rowed so lightly that we were last off the start.  However the boat was gliding, and you could hear the bubbles flowing past the side of the hull.  We slowly moved back to 5th, then 4th, then 3rd and were 2nd by the 1500 meter mark.  Ahead of us Nantes won the semi, demonstrating their mastery.  None of us felt tired after the semi, it had been an easy race.  Our start was horribly slow, but we were clearly better on the rest of the race, coming easily 2nd.  In the final, we were set for lane 2.  We were facing only elite national team or under23 national team boats except for another boat. Our goal was to go for 4th place, any higher would have been unrealistic.  We had never raced Lyon 2, they had beat our time in the semis, but we were ahead in the heats. We decided to “mix” our first 2 races: keep the glide and lightness of the second one, with a bit more power off the start like the first race.  The plan worked and we actually we were only half a boat behind the podium after 200m. But we quickly realized that were in a different race, a race for 4th.  The top 3 were battling up ahead.  At 1000m we were 5th, paying for a slow start (better but still on the slow side).  At 1500m, I started to see stroke seat from Lyon 2 coming back next to me.  Our bow seat made a call as we pushed level, and we detached with 200m left.  We end up in 4th place, the best we could possibly do behind 3 world class crews.

Great end to a long season, 2 months after WIRA.  Certainly one of my best racing experiences. It was pretty cool being able to talk with some of the members of the french light 4 while waiting at weigh-in.  They told us how they really want to medal at the London Olympics, after the disappointing 4th in Beijing. These guys are so skinny it’s freaky!

Having no coach in our small club, I can only thank the awesome coaching staff we have at Lewis and Clark.  Lincoln basically taught me sweep, having only been coached sculling back in France.  The great conditions and awesome team atmosphere at LC clearly influenced my performance this year.”

A great performance for Luke and it’s awesome to see one of our athletes performing on the national stage– in this case the national stage in France, but the competition there may well be better then in the US!  Luke’s brought a lot of skill and speed to our team and he’s been a big part of the men’s team raising their game.

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