The rise and rise of Henrik Stephansen on the erg
When it comes to indoor rowing records for lightweights there is one man competing against himself – Denmark’s Henrik Stephansen.
Five years ago, as a 19-year-old, Stephansen broke the lightweight men’s indoor rowing record for 2000m by setting a time of 6:02.2 at the CRASH B’s Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston. A year later Stephansen went 6:01.8 at the Euro Open in Rome.
Then, less than a month later at the Danish Indoor Rowing Championships, Stephansen became to first lightweight to go under 6 minutes. He knocked a huge three seconds off his previous record setting 5:58.5 as the new World Record.
It then took Stephansen three years, but he again broke his own record by going 5:57.4 at the 2012 Danish Indoor Rowing Championships. This record made Stephansen the fastest lightweight on the water and on the erg as at the 2011 World Rowing Championships Stephansen became the World Champion in the lightweight men’s single sculls.
This year at the Danish Indoor Rowing Championships in Copenhagen, a rather relaxed looking Stephansen again set the new standard with a time of 5:56.7.
Stephansen used his technique of a very high rating start of just his body and very little legs, and then building up to half slide, then full slide before settling into a 34 – 36 stroke rate for the body of the piece. Towards the end of the 2000m Stephansen took his stroke rate to 39 then 40 then 42, peaking at about 45 strokes per minute.
This latest time of 5:56.7 sees Stephansen inching towards the Danish heavyweight record of 5:55.5. The time has remained unbroken since 1996 and Stephansen has hinted that it may become a target for him.
Finishing second at the Danish Indoor Rowing Championships was Stephansen’s teammate Steffen Bonde Jensen who completed the 2000m in 6:02.8. Bonde came to the Danish Championships after competing, and winning, at the Amsterdam World Ergohead a week prior.
Denmark’s Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist are the reigning Olympic Champions in the lightweight men’s double sculls. Quist had hung up his oars since the London Games while Rasmussen has signalled that he will take a break from international competition and so Stephansen and Bonde will be hoping to move into the double sculls for their nation.
Watch Stephansen complete his World Record time here.