Team sports unite people, and employees of EkoNiva have proved their readiness to deal with any tasks shoulder to shoulder. In celebration of Russian Navy day in Voronezh, Peter the Great’s Regatta has been held. The competition was run in the waters of the Voronezh reservoir.
While some EkoNiva employees were fighting against the element, others were actively rooting for them on land. Team fight songs from the waterfront reached as far as the opposite bank, Petrovskiy (Hare’s) island, spurring the oarsmen to victory. Representatives of EkoNiva-Media managed to capture the race from the water, the land and even the air, enabling us to comprehensively cover the regatta, including an insider’s view!
Taming the dragon
The dragon is a large canoe with the head and the tail of the mythical creature. EkoNiva acquired one for itself – in corporate white and green colours — as a symbol of staying afloat. A total of 16 crews lined up at the starting line, among them — the colleagues from Prodimex and Voronezh State Agricultural University.
Each crew consisted of 20 paddlers, a coxswain and a drummer setting the rhythm of the stroke. After a draw, it was decided that EkoNiva would compete in the first semi-final. During the parade, the crew overcame nervousness about starting the race and marched proudly. They had prepared for this important hour! The crew — all of them amateurs introduced both to rowing and to each other for the first time — had exercised twice a week for a month and a half.
‘The training took place on the premises of the Burevestnik sports club,’ remembers Victor Bargotin, a journalist of EkoNiva-Media and a crew member. ‘A short coaching before the break-in, and we are already rowing coach-led along the Voronezh river. I must admit, it was scary at first: the canoe was rocking, with waves from passing-by power boats hitting the sides. It was not all smooth training at first, but later, when we got a hang of it, the rowing gained synchronicity. The coach laid great emphasis on perfecting rowing technique by each crew member. We were told how to place the blades in and out of water, what the proper blade angle should be at backstops, the way the core and legs should work. As the training progressed, it became obvious that we were making headway. During one of the training sessions, we had an accident and the boat nearly sunk. As we were racing against the clock, the dragon rolled to one side, then to the other and began pitching. Panic among the crew ensued, a few crew members yelled something along the lines of “Batten down the hatches!”, “Bilge water!”, others just laughed. Of course, this was said in jest, but when the boat actually capsized and we found ourselves in the water, with the bank around a hundred metres away, this was no laughing matter. That was when our grit surfaced and we proved to ourselves that we were a team. Swimming towards the bank with one hand, we dragged the heavy dragon along with the other. Having bailed all the water out of the canoe and caught our breath, we headed off to the training camp. That day’s practice was over for us.’
The crew consisted of twenty-five employees from EkoNivaAgro, EkoNiva-APK Holding, EkoNiva-Chernozemye and EkoNiva-Media. Anastasiya Silenko, Administrative Assistant to Director of EkoNivaAgro-Levoberezhnoye, who practices jogging and power walking, was chosen for the role of a motivator with a drum.
‘My task is to boost the morale’, says Anastasiya Silenko. ‘In case the crew tarries a little, I call: “Move it!” at once. I see everyone, their mindset and output. Everyone is so different, yet they all worked as a sole body. And that is what matters!’
At full speed
‘Our mindset was to defend the company’s dignity,’ shares Victor Bargotin his impressions. ‘Everybody took their seats, the boat moved off from the bank, and we slowly rowed towards the starting line warming up and taking in the last instructions of the steersman. The entire waterfront was full of people excitedly anticipating the start of the first semi-final. Amid the noise of the crowd, cheers of the EkoNiva support team were distinctly heard. Few, if any, crews had such devout fans. It is not for nothing that they say supporters are equivalent to an extra crew member. Maybe it was thanks to them that the crew performed so well. The dragon boats lined up side-by-side. “One minute”, announced the chief referee, speaking through a megaphone. We focused on giving the main rivals — the VSU and VSTU varsity crews — a hard fight. Other strong crews racing in the same semi-final included those of Emergency Situations institute and Gasprojectengineering. After the start, the strokes and the drummer increased the stroke rate and everyone began working as one. We were the second for a while, and, according to the spectators, it was plausible that we would accomplish a feat and get into the final. But we lost pace in mid-course. The VSTU varsity crew gained the lead, with the VSU crew working steadily close behind. A hard fight for the third place was on. The varsity crew of Emergency Situations institute made an attempt to move through us, but we sprinted found a new gear close to the finish and crossed the finish line one metre ahead. Hurray!
The competition was divided into three semi-finals, based on the results of which the top six crews advanced to the final. The EkoNiva crew covered the 300 m distance in 51.03 sec., finishing third in its semi-final and seventh in the overall standing. Artyom Petrin, the banner bearer, a Herd Manager and Deputy Head of Vysokoye Dairy Unit and formerly a handball and volleyball player, took up rowing with a healthy competitive spirit.
‘In my opinion, we performed very well’, says Artyom Petrin. ‘We didn’t hear the “start” command all that well. After a mediocre start, however, we made a leap and caught up. We are happy that we competed side-by-side with the strongest crews.’
There were 2 females among the paddlers. One of them, Darya Dorovskaya, lawyer specializing in labour law, keeps fit by attending jym classes and cycling. Dealing with employee conflicts on a daily basis, she is skilled at keeping balance, yet even she found it hard to contain emotions after the finish.
‘It was very exciting, the adrenaline rush is incomparable to what I experienced during the practice, I am still under its effects’, says Darya Dorovskaya. ‘We are clerks working in agriculture, who would think that we could beat athletes. The EkoNiva men are the best. We are pleased with the result, and we will build on it!’ Ivan Melnikov, Head of Vysokoye Dairy Unit, is sure that everyone is equal in rowing. And, despite all its heterogeneity, the EkoNiva team has proved to be very cohesive. We all strove to deliver steady, consistent strokes’, says Ivan Melnikov. ‘I have discovered perseverance in myself through this kind of sports. I am proud of the crew and myself!’
Both the contestants and the supporters got a surge of positive emotions before the hard week’s work. EkoNiva team is not going to rest on its oars, instead it will take part in the regatta to celebrate the City Day of Voronezh this September and maybe even improve the best time of 2 min 20 sec. at the 500 m distance.
By Tatiana SIMONENKOVA and Viktor BARGOTIN