CW Challenger Will Satch is no stranger to challenging conditions, but rewind just five months and the reigning Olympic champion was preparing for heart surgery. Having staged an incredible return to fitness, this weekend Will will be back in the men’s 8 at his favoured stroke seat at the opening round of the World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia. We grabbed a quick word with him to find out how he’s feeling – and about the prospect of facing an old foe…
How has your season gone so far?
WS: It’s been interesting to say the least… full of firsts! My winter block of training was extremely strong but a huge hurdle was on the horizon. Considering I had a heart ablation procedure and my first DNF at a trial, this season is actually starting to look rather exciting!
How are you feeling about your first international race of the year?
WS: I’m extremely eager to get out amongst it. It’s what I enjoy most and what I do best. The nerves are building but that goes with the territory and I can use it to my advantage.
Does Belgrade hold any good memories for you?
WS: Belgrade was my senior debut in 2012 with George (Nash) in the pair, so I have very fond memories of the place. It’s also a holiday hotspot for the locals and has many bars, which, sadly, we are unable to frequent.
Does the venue make much difference? Is it not just water and a straight line?
WS: Ultimately, it is, yes, and that’s the best way to think about it. I don’t need the fuss and fanfare, I just want to get out there and do the job. Sometimes big, flashy venues can distract from the job in hand.
What is the biggest challenge Belgrade will present?
WS: The most difficult thing is the unknown. We know that the 8 is Germany’s top boat and will never be too shabby. They are the current World Champions and they’ll be hungry. The 8 is the blue riband event and competition will be stiff.
Where does the World Cup stand in terms of your season’s goals?
WS: I’m ultra competitive. This race doesn’t differ from any other – I want to win. If we don’t I won’t be happy.
Having been a big part of the GB setup for a while, how have you dealt with the physical setbacks?
WS: The realisation that I’m fallible doesn’t sit well with me and I have struggled with that. However, I think going through the hard times makes the good times sweeter, and I’m definitely back stronger and hungrier than ever.
You’ve also been in lots of different crews over the years. How do you cope with the change?
WS: A four year cycle allows for strong relationships to be built and the camaraderie is second to none, with everyone pulling towards the same goal day in, day out. Starting again feels like a rebuild and can be initially unnerving, but that challenge is an enormous part of the whole picture.
You always row at stroke in the GB 8. What’s so good about it?
WS: Fundamentally, I don’t enjoy following! I like the feeling of leading and being in control of the rate and rhythm. The 8 is a totally different beast from any other boat type. It’s aggressive, noisy, punchy and very exciting. There is nothing that compares to being in the fastest boat on the water.
Is there anyone, sporting or not, that you admire or are inspired by?
WS: My mother, for being my rock; Tyler Hamilton, for winning at all costs; and David Attenborough, for being an all round good egg.
Finally, which CW watch will be going with you to the World Cup and why?
My Christopher Ward black C1000 Typhoon.