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How the Dutch used RP3s to Dominate at the 2020 European Championships

The Dutch managed an impressive haul at the European Championships in Poznan including an incredible 8 gold medals. Their efforts saw them top the medal table, collecting twice as many golds as second and third placed Italy and Romania.

(Image sourced from world rowing).

The 11 total medals included:

  • GOLD: M2x, M4x, M4-, LW1x, W4-, LW2x, W4x, PR2 Mix 2x

  • SILVER: W2x

  • BRONZE: M8+, W8+

Its no secret that the Dutch national team uses RP3s in training, this post looks at how using RP3s contributed to their success.


1. Training at Race Rates on a Rowing Machine

Rating high has become part and parcel of racing on the international stage with crews commonly averaging ratings in the high 30s or even low 40s over 2k.

On a static rowing machine, equivalent ratings are impossible while maintaining power and form but on an RP3, they are entirely possible. This is because the RP3 utilises a dynamic rowing motion that closely replicates the dynamic system of a boat on the water.

The result is an experience that, to the rower, feels much more similar to a race on the water.

The Dutch team use their RP3s for testing as well as just steady-state miles which allows their athletes to develop indoors in a way that is directly transferable to the water.

The RP3 2000m world record is currently held by Simon Van Dorp of the Dutch M8+, achieving a time of 5:28.95 at an average stroke rate of 43 spm.


2. Crew Synchronisation

The only event in rowing that does not feature rowing in a crew with other people is the single. Every other event involves 2 or more individuals who must work in perfect harmony to ensure their boat is traveling as fast as possible.

Indoor training is a great and often overlooked opportunity to improve crew synchronicity as coaches can get up close and see data instantly on the rowing machine display in a controlled environment.

The Dutch are able to improve the ways their crews row together indoors by using RP3s linked together. In this scenario, each athlete can feel the movements of other athletes at every point in the stroke, understanding where they apply pressure or what speed the legs go down, the rating, and so on. This gives them an advantage over other crews as they can develop speed as a crew while training indoors.

A good example is the Dutch M2- of Niki van Sprang (187cm) & Guillaume Krommenhoek (202cm). They went into the European Championships as underdogs having formed the pair not long before the competition, both having come from sculling, but they managed to achieve an impressive 4th place. They developed together quickly despite a 6-inch height discrepancy between them.


3. Force Curves

Another tool available on the RP3 is the software, and specifically the detailed force curve.

The force curve returns information regarding the peak force (in newtons), the stroke length, the position of the peak force along the stroke length and also the overall shape of the curve.

Athletes can use this to improve their rowing individually by setting targets to improve certain aspects of their stroke, for example, to improve power by consistently increasing their peak force.

Coaches can also use it as a tool to get crews synchronised. The software allows you to easily programme a static curve to the graph which athletes can then use as a guide for where they apply their power during the stroke.

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