Gold medalists shuffle seats on race eve

General / Aug 7, 2014

For the first time since well before the London Olympics, the tight-knit four will change their seating plan.

It’s only a small change, with David Smith moving to the front seat, and Tate Smith swapping to number two.

“Things like that are always my idea, I guess, so if it doesn’t work I’ll be the one who gets the blame,” Tate Smith said.

“We’re quite a versatile crew. With our crew I’m always trying to push our boundaries and trying to improve us as a crew, I’m never satisfied with where we are or get complacent.”

One of the reasons for the change is the conditions on the Moscow course, where the wind can be particularly challenging.

“Last time we raced there was a really strong headwind, and having Smithy at the front, he’s a bit lighter, he can tick over the boat a little bit better and I can sit back and provide a bit of extra power to the middle of the boat,” Smith said.

“I’ve been in the front of the K4 now for four or five years, so that’s why it’s such a big decision for me to move to number two. But I’m pretty confident he can do a good job in number one and I can do a good job in seat two, and potentially we could go a lot better.”

After finishing third at last year’s World Championships the K4 are looking to make a statement this year.

They’ve never won a World Championship gold, but after winning the final World Cup event before this weekend Tate Smith believes this year could be the year.

“We’re actually a little bit ahead of where we thought we’d be,” Smith said.

“The times we’ve been doing at training indicate we’re going to produce something similar to 2011 and 2012, so if everything goes well on the weekend I think we’ll be right up there.”

While much of the focus will be on the K4, crew member Murray Stewart will also be out to make his mark in the K1 1000.

While winning a medal is his ultimate goal, he also admits this week is also about convincing people, including himself, that he can do both races at a big event.

“Definitely,” Stewart said on the eve of his K1 heat.

“It’s two years out from the Games now, next year’s a qualification year so for me this is a big challenge to try and do both at a world class level.

“And this year there’s slightly less on the line than next year or the following year.

“It’ll be a good learning curve to see that I can do it. I believe I can.”

Also sure to turn heads in Moscow will be the brand new combination of Beijing gold medalist Ken Wallace and speedster Lachlan Tame in the K2 1000.

Although the pair have done very little racing together, coaches believe Tame’s raw early speed coupled with Wallace’s powerful finish will make them a formidable combination.

Wallace, at his 13th World Championships, is excited about the challenge.

“The last time I raced K2 1000 at a World Championships was 2002,” he said.

“We raced at one local regatta in Australia, so it’s going to be a bit of an eye-opener and step up to race here.

“If we can find that medium ground between Lachy’s speed at the start and my finish we’ll go well, but a lot of the teams we’ll be racing have been together for a long time.”

Wallace’s younger sister, Bernadette, will also be in action as the experienced hand in the women’s K4 500.

It’s also a relatively new crew of Cat McArthur, Jaime Roberts, Alyce Burnett and Wallace.

“We’ve spent the past month together, and did the World Cup series, but we are still a fresh boat,” Bernadette Wallace said.

“Jaime and Cat, this is their first senior worlds, so as a crew we’re pretty excited. Our training lead-up has been good, I’m really happy with it.

“Whether we have a good race or a bad race, we’re going to have a PB, it’s going to be our starting point. We just have to keep cool, calm and collected.”