How to be the voice behind rowing racing
Earlier this year, World Rowing was on the search for a commentator and tried something new: a commentator competition.
Applicants were asked to submit recordings of their commentary. The winner was rower, commentator and rowing enthusiast, Camilla Hadland from Great Britain. This gave Hadland the chance to commentate at a World Rowing event and also the chance to learn more about Hadland’s road to rowing commentary.
Hadland began as a rower, starting with a British Rowing programme called Project Oarsome.
“It was a scheme by British Rowing to get school children into rowing with local rowing clubs, people that wouldn’t have access to rowing usually. I went and did rowing once a week. I wasn’t very good at many other sports but sitting on the rowing machine and being told that actually I was quite strong and quite good at it, I ended up just falling into it,” says Hadland.
She went on to set a British indoor rowing record for her age group when she was 13. From there Hadland ended up on the British junior national team and eventually began rowing for her university squad in Durham.
When she didn’t make the British under-23 team, Hadland decided it was time to take commentating more seriously. In 2015, she commentated the British University Championships and it all took off from there.
“That kickstarted everything,” says Hadland. “That year I ended up doing the British Junior Championships, the Henley Women’s Regatta and the Henley Royal Regatta on the YouTube stream. It pretty much just snowballed and I’ve done most of those events for the last four years.”
So, how does Hadland ‘have what it takes’?
“I think every commentator is different and that’s the beauty of each commentary team you’re a part of. For me, enthusiasm is my biggest need to have. It comes across so much in your voice when you’re passionate about it. You can get people excited with you and that’s what you’re there to do. You’re there to facilitate the excitement about the racing,” she says.
“Commentating at the international level was always my goal,” says Hadland. “So the competition was a great opportunity to give it a try. I didn’t know I would get it, but it gave me the chance to try. When I got the email that I’d won, I was ecstatic. I was at work and I was just so, so happy. It’s what I’ve been dreaming of doing, taking the next step in my commentary.”
At the first World Rowing Cup in Belgrade, Hadland had the chance to commentate alongside World Rowing regulars, Sam Price, Martin Cross and Peter O’Hanlon.
“It exceeded my expectations and more,” Hadland says. “Just to be there and see how it all worked. Then to meet the guys from Sports Presentation Services and have them explain how they are trying to create an atmosphere and that I play a really important role in that. And then I got to commentate some really great races, it was just fantastic.”
Commentating is not without nerves. Hadland describes it as similar to racing itself.
“You get that same sort of before-the-start nerves as when you’re racing. You have no idea how a race is going to pan out. I always still have a worry that I am going to say something that’s not appropriate or that doesn’t make sense, but once you start and get into the flow, those nerves tend to disseminate,” she says.
For now, Hadland will continue with her busy schedule, working as a recruitment consultant during the week and commentating rowing events on the weekends.