Bruno Cipolla, the ‘Rower Whisperer’

by Giuseppe Lamanna (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

He who rules the waves, writes history. This quote entered the collective memory via the British Naval Admiral, Horatio Nelson, but which is now more closely linked with one of the most important but least considered roles in rowing: the coxswain. What’s more all eyes are on the rowers during races and not on the ‘little’ great men who ‘whisper’ from the bows or the stern.

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The legendary Bruno Cipolla

The rowing stroke is like an unbroken chain of instants and rowers live from one to the next, without really taking much notice of what has just or is about to happen. A luxury denied to the cox, because their job is not to ‘enjoy’ the journey, but to predict the future and to change the final outcome by using their voice. And this is just what Bruno Cipolla did in 1968 at the Mexico City Olympics, who as cox steered the coxed pair of Renzo Samba and Primo Baran to Olympic gold.

The ‘Rower Whisperer’

Bruno Cipolla’s story is not just one of the past, it is even more valid now. After almost half a century has passed since that medal, this great athlete continues to have fun in boats; his purpose is to pass on his passion and experience to the youngsters who have recently taken up rowing.

Are coxswains born or made, Bruno? Continue reading

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Rowing in New Zealand

by Maria Giulia Parrinelli (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

With a surface area only slightly smaller than Italy’s, there are less than one tenth of the inhabitants.  Its climate and environment are very similar to Italy’s too. Yet, while boasting a not insignificant population of sheep and one of the strongest national rowing squads in the world. Obviously we are talking about New Zealand.

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Two young women have come onto the All Blacks rowing scene: the charming Holly Fletcher, whom I met in China and this year is an Under 23 athlete; and the lovely Caroline Pearson, who I got to know through the magical world of blogging. Between us we were able to compare both sides of the same coin: rowing at national level from Holly’s perspective, class of ‘94, and that of junior rowing from Caroline. Draw your own conclusions while I pack to move there. Continue reading

Francesco Cardaioli: merits of the 1x

by Giuseppe Lamanna (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

Amongst the many problems that can plague the amateur rower, the sculling-related ones are the most tricky: particularly that of finding reliable crew mates. Very often, I am the only one around to row with.

Merits of the 1x

So who better to help me understand than the single sculler in the Italian squad: is solitude in rowing a blessing or a curse? In this sport, the ones who really do battle are those who train alone; those who have chosen to train with only their own demons for company. And only those who train alone, really know what those demons are.

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Francesco Cardaioli: “Taking on the single was almost out of necessity rather than choice.  I first competed in a single in my second year as a junior, and I have never stopped since. My first experience of international racing in a single was in 2013. At the start of the four year cycle it had to be the boat class to gain experience racing against seniors. Then, little by little, the single became mine. Continue reading

Memories of an old racing vest – rowing will always give you a second chance

by Mario Scalella (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

My name is Mario and I am 60 years old. People of my age play cards, go out cycling, collect stamps, but rowing is my passion. Although sometimes when I look in the mirror, I ask myself if I am too old. Yet my heart tells me to carry on and the medical check-ups alay any worries.

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Mario Scalella, seat number 2, won the Lysistrata Cup, 1973.

My rowing story started at 17 when I joined the ‘free rowing course’ organised by Naples Rowing Club (Circolo Canottieri Napolihttp://www.circolocanottierinapoli.it). At the time I was a big lad – a bit overweight – so I decided to take up a sport to make me feel more confident. To get the ‘look’, to get the girls. I loved football and the sea, and I admit that the free part of the course was the bit that lead me to Molosiglio, where the rowing club is still located.  Continue reading

Rowing: what I have learned, and what I have yet to learn

by Giuseppe Lamanna (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

There are moments in a rower’s life when you have to stop and weigh up what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and where you’re going. An existential crisis? Not exactly.

Some situations push you towards important moments of reflection – the result of cumulative experience. Someone once said that you learn to really live just when here is no longer any point in living. Life’s often like that. But then it is also true that sharing your own knowledge is vital, particularly when it is what you have learnt. Continue reading

Rowing: Don’t say “I can’t!”

by Anonymous Rower (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

My name is Fabio and I, like many others wanted to be a rower. I was born and grew up in Sardinia and I enjoyed water sports as a youngster. I lived near a large lake, which is where I began to row, when I was little more than a child.

The feeling of being in a boat made me fall in love with the sport there and then. Yet, I was to give it up all too soon. At 19, I left home to go to university. At 31, straight after graduating with a PhD, I dropped everything and moved to Oxford.

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Don’t say: “I can’t!”

Continue reading

Murray beat Pinsent, but is it a verified record?

by Vincenzo Triunfo (translated by Gillian Shaw) source text

For a sportsperson, beating a record is the pinnacle. Limits are defined by records, in sport. Yet, while records are there to be broken, sometimes we find ourselves facing up to records that are the result of a technological or environmental change.

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In rowing, for example, records are generally set over 2000 metres. The reason for this is simple: there are too many influences on conditions where we race, but thanks to the ergometer (indoor rower), rowers can test themselves against the records set over various distances.

Murray beat Pinsent: but is it a true record?! Continue reading