asiad 18 – female lightweight rowing – gold medal

âu chuyện “cổ tích” khởi đầu nhiều năm về trước, khi có một ông “Bụt” người Úc, cựu VĐV chèo thuyền, du lịch Hà Nội, ngụ tại một khách sạn ven hồ Tây và thấy đội tuyển tập chèo trên hồ. “Ngứa nghề”, ông già này bèn xuống “chỉ đạo”, “hỗ trợ”, sau đó trở lại Hà Nội nhiều lần, “viện trợ” nhiều mẫu thuyền đua Olympic mới nhất, những phương pháp tập luyện mới nhất. Thế là mọi chuyện bắt đầu thay đổi, những giáo án và thiết kế thuyền cũ kỹ từ thời Sô-viết không thể vô địch, nhưng các loại mới thì có thể. Đội nữ thì như thế, các nam VĐV vẫn còn đang ngồi khóc chờ Bụt hiện ra!?

rowing machine – 3

aving some more time this week to finish this very small piece of work: a pulley system for lifting the weights up and down. Then ensemble everything together: the sliding seat, the rotating foot rest (note the pair of sandals tied on it). Initial testing gave satisfactory results, though some adjustments are still needed here and there! 😀

Rowing the machine is quite like riding a bicycle on long distance, it seems light and easy at first, but it gets more and more demanding the longer you row. That’s a perfect machine for exercising many of your body’s muscles. I made a quick video capture with my phone to show how the machine works below (sorry for the poor lighting condition).

rowing machine – 2

ave some times this week to continue working on my rowing machine. First is the basket used to contain weights (just some bricks instead of those iron weight plates). It runs on 4 small plastic wheels lying on 2 wooden rails. A system of line and 3 blocks is used to move the weights basket sliding up and down in an near – vertical manner (75 degrees).

It’s only when I first try running the machine that I’ve found out it is making so much noises, the 8 wheels on wooden rails. I decided to change from the slanted design (4th image) to an upright one (5th image). The weights would run up and down by a system of lines and pulleys, rather than running on rails. Proceed slowly as I have little free time for the moment.

rowing machine – 1

hy a rowing machine!? First, it is among the best exercising methods which helps building the most groups of muscles. Second, to be used as a complementary way besides kayak paddling, especially when I don’t have time to go to the river, or when I do have, but the tide does not permit a convenient sortie. Below is my on – going building progress.

Most of the rowing machine’s frame is made from cheap MDF, glued, stapled and screwed together, then painted outside with thinned epoxy to strengthen the MDF a bit. Some important parts are made from wood, e.g: rails for the sliding seat… I use 4 small white hard – plastic wheels with ball bearing for durability, and for the sliding motion to be smooth.

seagames 2015

arely I recap newspapers but I do this time, to tell about our ‘golden girls’ at SeaGames 2015 (South East Asian Olympics), which is being held in Singapore. Everybody knows these already, so just mention a few:

Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên: 18 year old, going on 19, participated in 11 swimming events, won 8 gold medals, broke 8 records, all within her 6 days session at SeaGames this year. Her feast is simply ground – breaking, in addition to the fact that, for the last 50 years, Vietnam has not produced any big name in swimming compared to other countries in the region. She stole the show and has no match in all contents: freestyle, butterfly, medley, backstroke, breaststroke, a ‘rare bird’ Vietnam can be proud of. It’s so fascinating to see her at the finishing line looking back at all her opponents half pool’s length behind! With these achievements, she would be surely promoted from an (army) captain to major, the youngest in our history!

Trương Thị Phương: gold medal (canoeing, single, 200 m), leads the silver by 2 seconds, more than one boat’s length. There’s has been debating whether the girl can swim or not, cause after finishing, her boat capsized and she frighteningly stick to the canoe waiting for the rescue team to come. I’ve been following closed enough to know this: more than 1 year ago, when joining the team, she was nearly dismissed by the coach finding out that she can not swim. It was only for her talent that she was kept in, with a promise to learn swimming immediately. But even so, to all the debating: so what… she is only 16, and still learning… those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!

Phạm Thị Thảo, Tạ Thanh Huyền and Lê Thị An, Phạm Thị Huệ: five gold medals in rowing, 500, 1000m. Our female sculling teams are exceptionally strong, they’d won gold and silver at Incheon Asian Games 2014, and secured tickets to compete at World Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the next year. There’s a long interesting story behind the progresses made by our sculling teams, but that’s another story. I’m so happy to see that Vietnam gradually become stronger in water sports: swimming, paddling, rowing… the recent years. But looking at the table, women are winning more than 70% of all gold. Where has all Vietnamese men gone!? Well, the majority of them are busy drinking and talking bullshit, I guess.

hello world – 1, part 7, rowing kit

oating progress has been stagnated lately… But really I’m interested in experimenting with rowing, another way of propelling the boat besides paddling. Rowing can help building other groups of your muscles, it could produce more torque to push the canoe forward under unfavourable wind and current conditions, it should increase sustainable speed significantly, furthermore, it’s good for long – range tandem trips: with two hands aboard, ones can take turn to row and to rest. First, I make a pair of 8 feet oars: 5 planks of wood is glued and screwed together to form the oar’s handle and blade. Next is scraping and planing them into their final shapes using my new, very useful tool: a power planer. Then the 4 feet 8 inches outrigger and flotations.

For the oars, I use a lighter wood, Vietnamese name: thao lao (Lagerstroemia calyculata Kurz); the white, fine grain wood traditionally used for building paddle, oar and rudder. Having density at about 0.9 (900 kg/m3), the wood is not as heavy and hard as căm xe (Xylia xylocarpa), but resists better to water. The oars handles’ ends would be attached with short aluminium tubes, which serve two purposes: 1. lengthen the oars to the full length of 2.4m (8 feet) and 2. the hollow tubes will be casted with about 1.5kg of lead each, to better balance the oars once they’re put onto the oarlocks, and hence reduce rowing effort. I’d also decided to use ready – made plastic fishing buoys for flotations, to make the outrigger construction simpler and easier.

Today, I took Hello World – 1 to dry dock for inspection, maintenance and more fitting. After almost 2 months on open water and under direct sunlight, mistakes in the building phase have been shown: 2, 3 small cracks on the outer fiberglass and epoxy layer at bottom aft, water has leaked into the aft watertight compartment (about a gallon), and the paint has been scratched at places… 😢 Also, I should have taken more care on the canoe’s storage and usage. Now I need to make some repairs: find the seal the leaks, repaint some small areas, lower the seats to improve stability, before being able to fit the rowing kit and other miscellaneous accessories: cleat and anchor, the light pole… It could take the next 2, 3 days to finish all these things!

Today, we tested the preliminary rowing kit, the result is very unsatisfactory 😢, but somewhat encouraging still. I’ll need to rethink about the designs, various flaws are spotted and to be rectified: the oars are too long and heavy, the oar locks are placed too low that they limit the rowing movements, flotations are not done yet… The only promising thing is that speed would surely get a huge improve, we was expecting to be able to sustain somewhere around 4, 5 knots (7 ~ 9 km/h), a great advantage (compared to paddling) for long – range cruising. But that would be the jobs of the coming (Lunar) new year, for now, all boating works will be temporarily suspended, as I’ve already got in my TODO list many other stuffs which have higher priority.