Two of these featured the best of Britain and the Netherlands where the best battled it out in their respective national indoor rowing championships in front of record crowds at each venue.

Unlike rowing on the water, indoor rowing races are unaffected by weather. A direct comparison between performances at different venues is not only possible but inevitable as rowers compare themselves. There are also selectors and national coaches checking on their athletes with fewer than 600 days until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Dutch National Indoor Rowing Championships (NKIR)

Being one time zone ahead of the British, The Dutch National Indoor Rowing Championships in Amsterdam (NED) was first to start the day. Nearly 2000 competitors and many thousands of fans cheered as the Dutch record books were rewritten in several individual events over the 2000m distance.

Significant results include:

Niek van Venrooij : 5 :58.8 (Men Elite)
Jose van Veen: 6:39.3 (Women Elite)
Lisa Bruijinincx: 6:54.9 (Girls 18) *Dutch Record
Jelle Bakker: 6:14.6 (Boys 16) *Dutch Record
Marieke Keijser: 7:02.6 (Lightweight Women U23) *Dutch Record
Obbe Tibben: 6:14.7 (Lightweight Men U23) *Dutch Record
Wilbout Rustenburg: 5:58.4 (Men U23)

Most notable, perhaps, was the winner of the Women’s Veteran 90-94 age class, Marijke van den Berg, whose time of 12:25.5 established a new World Record and was raced in memory of her late husband and former Dutch Olympic rower (London 1948), Han van den Berg.

Another highlight was the presence of so many current members of the Dutch elite squad. “Almost the entire Dutch Women's National Rowing team competed at the NKIR,” says Daní Oldenmenger, one of the event managers affiliated with host organisation Student Rowing Club Nereus (A.S.R. Nereus).

Currently in its 29th year, the NKIR has grown in both size and level of competition over the years. They even played host to the European Indoor Rowing Championships (EIRC) in 2018.

“Our goal is to keep expanding nationally and internationally,” says Oldenmenger. “By doing so we hope to be able to host the World Rowing Indoor Championships within the coming three years. We are also looking forward to our 30th anniversary next year.”

Results can be found here 

2018 British Rowing Indoor Championships, Pete Reed with junior winners © British Rowing

 

British Rowing Indoor Championships (BRIC)

While Dutch Records and a World Record were falling on the continent, a similar scene unfolded cross the English Channel, at London’s iconic Lee Valley VeloPark where competitors set 17 British and three World Records for indoor rowing.

Among the crowd of competitors were nearly 40 members of British Rowing’s national squad.

Significant results include:

Ellen Buttrick: 7:38.2 (PR3-PD Women 2000m) *World Record
Sean Gaffney: 6:28.3 (PR3-PD Men 2000m) *World Record
Alice Mason: 1:44.6 (PR3 Women 500m) *World Record
Moe Sbihi: 5:45.5 (Open Men 2000m)
Alice Baatz: 6:44.0 (Open Women 2000m) *BRIC Record
Mike Hurley: 7:38.2 (80-84 Men 2000m) *British Record

Also notable was Graham Benton’s 5:57.1 time for 2000m in the 40-49 Men 2000m event, where he became the oldest racer in BRIC history to break the 6-minute mark.

As an event for the best on-water and indoor rowers to come together and race, the BRIC (like other indoor rowing events) has a far broader competition base than a standard regatta, something not lost on the even the fastest race winners:

“It’s really awesome for us to race with people who have come from clubs or gyms and actually really push us,” says British Rowing national team member Alice Baatz. “Hopefully it gives them an incentive to keep going or maybe even pushes them to join a club and try out on the water if they haven’t already.”

"I had the mentality that I knew I could win this race but I wasn’t going to do it by trying to do a PB and risk blowing up,” says Olympic Champion Moe Sbihi. “It’s rare to get a PB or record here so my aim today was to know where Josh (Bugajski) and Adam (Neill) [fellow British team members] were and temper what they were doing. I felt I still had another level to go if I needed to, but if you don’t judge it right you end up suffering."

Results can be found here