Perfect crew timing

March 2017, London

There is a certain level of predictably in rowing; the patterns of movement by the athletes, the relative timing between oars in or out of the water and the overall motion of the boat through the water. Much like an engine, all the parts have to mesh together perfectly for it to work. There are however a myriad of things that can influence or upset the components involved and as a result have a dramatic affect on the run of a boat, and ultimately it is how a crew overcomes these obstacles to reach their goal: speed. There is a high level of precision and timing required in order to make any boat move as fast and efficiently as possible. 

It can be hard to find order in the chaos of shapes and patterns made when rowing. Thanks to the camera’s ability to make photographs in fractions of a second, a well timed shot can unmask details not visible to our eyes, minor flaws and discrepancies stand out as much as revealing the harmony of the stroke, elements magnified in the instant they are frozen by the camera. During an afternoon outing with a boat from Oxford University as they rehearsed tactics prior to the Boatrace, I was looking for something that stood out against the noise. I followed alongside the crew for some time and then the launch swung directly behind it, in doing so and to the exclusion of other distracting elements, I focused in on the blades hoping to arrange them into the frame somehow. For just a brief moment as the launch manoeuvred, everything lined up, a near perfect composition of repeating dark shapes, droplets caught falling off the smooth dark surface into water below. A moment of stillness within the motion. My launch continued in its arc behind the athletes, the view gone all too briefly, but I was happy with what I had found.

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