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What does it take to become a World Champion?

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We spoke to Emma Cox, cox to the Looe Mens A Crew that won the World Pilot Gig Championships in 2018 and 2019.

Is it more difficult to win a title or defend it?

Well, it took Looe so long to win it, that when the crew finally won in 2018 it was as much a relief as a feeling of ‘ Yes! We have done it!’. Winning also gave us the confidence to believe that we could do it again.

How did your preparation change going into the 2019 Championships?

We had one crew change and a different training programme, but we set about defending the title with real determination. It becomes increasingly difficult to knuckle down and put the hard yards in on the ergo all winter, but the crew kept the metres ticking along. There is a very fine line between confidence that is built on knowing that you are fit, strong and technically sound, and arrogance and I like to think that we were confident in our ability. Personally I was more nervous last year, but the victory was much more enjoyable.

And how were your preparations going for this years Championships?

This year we have sleepless twins and house building to factor in as the training started to intensify and as sweet as a hat trick would be, we were certainly not taking anything for granted.

The run up to the first race of the season, The 3 Rivers at Saltash went well training wise. Competition for seats was hotly contested and  the crew had a one new member, who had worked really hard and showed massive progress on the water to earn his seat. 

As usual getting boat time was difficult with a run of really windy weather and being limited to rowing around the tides at the weekends only. However, the crew were crushing the ergos and were feeling good.

Going into the first event of the season is always an unknown, as all top clubs train hard through the winter and it sometimes throws up interesting results. However, it sets a real marker down for Scilly and a good result at 3 rivers means the last few weeks of training have real intensity for crews that did well as well as those who were disappointed with their result. The distance too, is not at all representative of the Scilly sprint course, but it demands a high level of fitness due to the duration of the race.

Looe approached the event with real professionalism. There were the obvious nerves, as it was the first time this crew had raced together, but the ‘old pros’ were calm and focused and a good start enabled Currah’s Pride to be in the lead after 4 minutes despite all crews being pushed up the course by a strong tail wind and tide.  Looe covered the 9 mile course in 47 minutes 41 seconds. This was nearly a minute faster that the second placed crew, Coverack. Although there were a couple of crews who decided not to race, and other crews might not have been at full strength, it was a performance that was very rewarding and encouraging. 

The crew (minus 2) then went to Helford the following weekend and won the mini Scillies competition.

How did you feel when the World Championships got cancelled?

When the news came through that the World Championships were not to be held, we were all devastated, although it was not really un expected in the light of what was going on internationally.

We also couldn’t meet to discuss how to cope with nothing to train for.  Messaging on our chat followed and the whole crew wanted to keep ergoing and training. John Healey from Dark Horse Rowing was very keen to continue to work with the crew and therefore the training off the water intensified and we continue to train towards the first event whenever that might be. There is also an indoor virtual ergo competition around the beginning of May, where the crew are intending to put in very strong individual performances. It has been so rewarding to see the fitness of the crew continue to improve and they are showing massive amounts of power and mental toughness as the ergos get more challenging, with high rate intervals replacing longer pieces.

Individually, the crew have faced individual hardships due to lockdown, employment wise and they have still managed to train with the necessary single mindedness. I’m continuing to train to so that I am in the best position to cox them, whenever that might be. So, it really is business as usual minus the boats. We look forward to continuing our dominance on the water and keeping our reputation as a ‘great bunch of guys’ off the water. watch this space!

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