Getting under the skin of rowing

Daniela Nachazelova can remember her first exposure to the world of rowing, 29 years ago in Racice in the Czech Republic.

“I was 11 years old. I was this little girl standing on the banks of the course, watching Vaclav Chalupa and hoping that he would finally get his world title,” Nachazelova says.

The legendary Chalupa missed out to Canada’s Derek Porter, but the experience also showed Nachazelova another side of rowing – “backstage”.

“It was something that I was drawn to, I just wanted to be part of it. I was always fascinated what’s happening behind the scenes,” she explains.

Now Nachazelova has delved into that hidden world of rowing for her second book.

In 2020, the former international lightweight published “Women’s Voices in Rowing”, which showcased the stories of 14 influential female rowing leaders. In the follow-up, Nachazelova has talked to another 12 rowing influencers – people who have had an enormous but unrecognised impact on the sport.

“Over the years I just had amazing chats with people. I was always fascinated by the fact that nobody’s taken advantage of talking to these people, they have so much knowledge,” Nachazelova says of her decision to write the book.

She points out most rowing interviews focus on athletes or coaches, rarely looking at what makes things tick behind the scenes.

Nachazelova’s interviewees include German boat designer Klaus Filter, Concept2 general manager Bruce Bearman, Hudson co-owner Craig McAllister, Australia’s boatman Urs Graf, and US coach Larry Gluckman, who passed away last year and to whom the book is dedicated.

“With some of them I already knew their stories and I just wanted to get it on record. I was just asking all those questions that I thought the rowing world should know about,” Nachazelova says.

She also wants to shine a light on unsung rowing heroes. For example, she talked to Filter about his 1965 research on boat engineering.

“These data are still valid today, he’s still going back to it. After 60 years he finally feels that he might have the athletes who are able to row his boats,” adds Nachazelova.

But the book does not only look at the technical aspects of rowing. Other interviews focus on issues such as safeguarding, performance, and rowing companies’ diversity and inclusion efforts.

She says the second book has been harder to write than the first, which “pretty much wrote itself.”

“This one, I knew what I wanted to say, I was more in control of the whole process. It took over two years, it’s been a long process. I had long breaks in between. I used the time to help me shape it out. I needed to think a lot of things through,” Nachazelova says.

The book will be formally launched at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice by Czech Olympic Committee president Jiri Kejval. It is a beautiful volume, illustrated with black and white photographs from Czech photographer Ondrej Kroutil who, Nachazelova believes, brings a different viewpoint of the sport.

Nachazelova says the book is aimed at “aspiring elite athletes who have questions and they couldn’t find the answers to them, if they would like to have a deeper understanding of the sport.

“There’s a lot of urban rowing legends, it’s sometimes good to straighten up,” she concludes.

Scroll to Top