Separated by an ocean, racing each other. Watch the Netherlands vs University of Washington
On Wednesday 29 January 2020 the Dutch men's 'talent 8+' and the University of Washington (USA) men’s eight will race each other. There will, however, be no long-haul flights for the teams to meet up. For the first time they’ll be doing it virtually and you can watch the race from anywhere in the world.
The race, which will be live streamed on World Rowing’s Facebook page, utilises a complex system of data integration to provide real-time scores to the athletes on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Eight members of each team will step onto RP3 rowing machines that have been mechanically attached. At 8:15am Pacific Time, from ‘Attention, Go’ they will row 2000 metres synchronously. The mechanically attached machines will act like an on-water boat, favouring the team that can row better together.
The scores from individuals are linked together and the resulting speed of each ‘boat’ is calculated in real-time. The athletes, physically nearly 7,800 kilometres apart, will be able to see the race progress on the screen. If their competition makes a move, they will be able to respond. Coaches and coxswains will be urging them on.
The result: a true winter-season race.
RP3 Rowing CEO Jan Lammers says the idea started because rowers have such a limited number of possibilities for competition.
“You might get about six chances to race internationally per year, if you’re lucky,” Lammers says. “Training is nice, but when the athletes actually line up against each other, it shows the coaches how the athletes are progressing in the winter. The competition gets higher.”
Lammers says that using a weight-adjustment for the athletes, meaning each athlete is weighed before their race and that data is added to the speed calculation, the programme is able to get to nearly 0.5 per cent accuracy of on-water boat speed.
The combination of the almost-accurate boat speed calculation and the real-time competition atmosphere is a tool for coaches to see how their athletes perform under pressure during the winter months. The University of Washington and the Dutch men’s 'talent 8+' are using it as an opportunity to test their speed. And you can watch it live.
Date: Wednesday 29 January, 2020
Time: 8.10am Pacific Time in Seattle, USA and 17.00 CET in Amsterdam, the Netherlands