Troubled waters for the Yale-NUS Crew
story Josh Ragbir
The Yale-NUS College rowing team lost a combined total of twenty kilograms in three weeks to make regulation weight for what would have been their second rowing competition—but their competition ended before their boats touched the water.
The competitors, Nicholas Siew ’18, Bernie Chen ’18, Shaun Tan ’17, and Captain and Founder Linus Seah ’17, were scheduled to compete in the fours 1000m at the Asia Cup 1 Rowing Regatta last week, an event organized as a trial event prior to the 28th South East Asia Games 2015. They were prevented from doing so due to mistakes made by their current team manager, according to the team.
The team currently signs up for competitions under the EASTer Rowing Club (ERC), a club that organizes both social and competitive rowing training. Their team manager comes from the ERC. According to Seah in an email interview, this is because “Yale-NUS Crew [does] not have the funding nor the resources to hire a personal team manager (which most rowing clubs do)”. Coordinators of events relay information to team managers who in turn inform their members, in order to streamline the dissemination of information.
Seah said that the team manager from the ERC “did a very bad job” of communicating with the team, referencing two specific cases. Firstly, the team was originally supposed to enter in two events, with Chen and Siew also competing in the double scull 500m, but their team manager failed to register them despite multiple reminders from the team members. Seah said this was “entirely due to the unprofessionalism of the team manager”. Secondly, information “relayed shoddily” by the team manager regarding the location, coupled with the manager’s failure to inform them of a change in the race timing resulted in the team’s disqualification from their only race, Seah said.
Seah thinks that this could have been avoided with better administrative structures. He said, “The most frustrating thing is the lack of accountability. There is no one that [the team] can turn to to hold [the manager] accountable for his mistakes.” Although appropriate feedback was given to the Singapore Rowing Association, who organized the event, Seah is skeptical about whether anything will actually be done about the problem.
Seah admitted that there was little that Yale-NUS’s Athletics Department could have done, but was hopeful that increased funding for competitive teams to engage a coach or manager will help avoid similar mistakes in the future. Seah explained that, “Every athlete really just wants to train and play their sport.” The Athletics Department is working toward “ramping up its protocols and trying to provide more support to competitive athletics teams,” according to Seah.
Despite facing these setbacks, Yale-NUS Crew members remain committed to competing for Yale-NUS. Seah said that competing with teammates he was familiar with was the main reason he started a rowing club at college instead of applying to the National Team.
The rowing team’s first competition was the the 73rd Amateur Rowing Association of the East and Far East Amateur Rowing Association Regatta, where they made it to the semifinals in both the double and the single sculls.