Harry changed the rowing movement
I’ve got a lot to thank Harry for and, and still do because he’s still in the back of my head, and he’s still in my subconscious, and he’s still in my notes, and he’s still in the videos that I use for the kids.
And I bring up his name regularly with the kids, you know, these 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds, they don’t know who he is, but I think it’s important to remind these young people where it’s come from, you know, and why New Zealand rowing is where it is today and where other countries are today, you know, British rowing and Swiss rowing.
Wherever Harry’s been he’s created – like a number of other good coaches, of course – but he’s one of those key men that’s I think has changed the rowing movement. .
The New Zealand Olympic champions who preceded Harry
My experience with Harry was in his early days of coaching. So he picked us up when we were getting near the end of our international career.
And so we had had pretty successful years, winning many national titles for our club. In fact, we equalled the record in the same coxed four for the same four guys and coxswain for three years on the trot. And then we went on to win it a fourth year. So we had a pretty good background, and I’d rowed also with… that was with the Avon Rowing Club… and I’d rowed with Whakatane Rowing Club a few years before that.
And those men in that eight were Olympic champions, and they really moved a boat extremely well. I learned so much then from those – Wybo Veldman, Warren Cole, Dave Molesworth, Tom Reid, Noel Mills, they were the key men.
My move from rowing to coaching
But so, then I went on after my rowing career, went on to coach at the club level, and coach some of the rowers that I’d rowed with for five years, and then went into school rowing.
But at the same time I was… going from rowing to coaching was quite a change, and you really have to think about what was making those boats move fast.
And because I was fortunate enough to be involved with Harry, Tom Reid, Cyril Molesworth, my father, [and] Rusty Robertson, I had a great array of different coaches came at it from different angles. And so I’ve gradually cemented in my mind, you know, what I think is the way to move a boat.
The GB men’s eight in 2000
And I also followed Harry’s success with the Swiss, with Cambridge, and, you know, to top it off, the finishing coach with that Great Britain eight in 2000. You know, I’ve used that clip, that race, with all my young kids many, many times now.
The fluency of the Swiss men’s quad
And I’ve used another clip of Harry with a Swiss quad – I’m not sure of the lake, but it was a Swiss lake – and we’ve used it as a final preparation for crews over the years in the previous… in the two days leading into the big event. And also the Cambridge eight training on the Thames. And it’s been used by other coaches in New Zealand.
But it was more the fluency that he created and, particularly in the quad, it was… you could see the reflection, the lake was so flat, and it was an effortless movement that these Swiss… four Swiss men were doing. I think they went on to medal at the Worlds. But it’s… there was no, there was no harshness in their movement, it was just picking up a running boat all the time.
And, and Harry just oozed out of that, that video of that crew.
Rowing in a masters crew for the benefit of my coaching
And now I’m doing a wee bit of masters rowing and every time I go out, when I train with some of these guys, in the boat myself, I don’t take too much notice of what they’re doing, but I’m just focusing on the movement and the application of power and acceleration for the benefit of my coaching – because that’s all I want to do now is coach, you know, I’ve retired from the business.
And, and when you get it, when you get that feeling, and when it’s together, it’s just like poetry in motion. And we had it in ’77 in our four, under Harry’s leadership, and we’ve had it in other boats too.
Learning from Spracklen and other coaches too
And I’m still using videos of Harry talking, and other coaches, but you know, I’m very closely… a close friend of Mike Spracklen, who comes at it slightly different, but also an expert in his field, probably one of the greatest, I think, in this period. And I hope to spend more time with him later this year, and in the UK, and other coaches in the UK, hopefully, just to share experiences because I don’t think you ever stop learning. And there’s always something there, some fine little thing that’s going to help you crystallize it in your mind, that feeling. And people come at it differently.