Brittain brothers: Thinking.Pulling.Together for the Buffalo Regatta

We all know Lawrence Brittain as one half of SA’s silver medal-winning duo from the Rio Olympics (along with Shaun Keeling). We’ve seen the guys in the RMB Thinking. Pulling. Together. ad and taken them on road shows around the country to talk about their journey to the podium in Rio. But did you know that Lawrence’s entire family is involved in rowing? Team ‘Great Brittain’ will be rowing together for the first time ever at the Buffalo Regatta in East London in February – sponsored by CN&CO clients Rand Merchant Bank and EasyEquities.

We last heard from Lawrence on our blog in November, when he sent us a piece called The Great ‘Brittish’ Boat Race at the 2017 Buffalo Regatta. With the date drawing near, Lawrence sent us the following update…


By Lawrence Brittain

In rowing it’s not uncommon to see siblings racing together. They often have very similar mindsets and attitudes towards training and racing, which makes them particularly dangerous when they get together. On the world stage there are some famous siblings who have many medals to their names, usually in the pair or sitting together in some of the bigger boats. After doing some digging I have found no evidence of a four ever racing that is completely made up of brothers, especially on the Buffalo River.

The four is about fitting into your role on the boat and having complete trust that the rest of your crew are doing their jobs to the best of their ability. Being four brothers, we have a huge amount of trust and respect for each other, so that aspect of the boat we have under control. But as brothers we are also not afraid to let each other know what we think, which has led to some tense moments on the water.

December saw us get into the boat for the first time to test our speed. There is no better time to fit in some secret training than in December. At that time of year, Roodeplaat Dam is empty and deserted, and training when everyone else is on holiday always feels more hardcore and gives you that little bit of extra motivation.

Once we all arrived in Pretoria we were excited to spend as much time in the boat as possible. But first we had to set our boat and decide who would sit where.

Anyone who knows the Brittain brothers knows that each of us has spent a lot of time sitting in the front, setting the rhythm and stroking various boats. We have all raced international regattas sitting in the front. This, of course, meant that when it came time to decide on the seating order of the four, each of us naturally thought that he was the best person for the job. After much debate, our coach Roger Barrow had to step in, put his foot down and dictate where we should sit. It turned out to be an unconventional rig and seating order!

Another concern we had was our older brother Matthew. While we had been training well together in sunny Pretoria, Matt was returning from a cold and wet London, where he had been training by himself. We were nervous to see how his preparation had being going. But while he wasn’t quite at his Gold Medal winning best, his time out of the boat hadn’t dulled his edge. His lonely training had clearly been going well. He was lean and mean and still had the skills to keep up with his “little” brothers – and indeed, to put us under some pressure!

The Brittain brothers, Lawrence, Charles, Matt and James, training at Roodeplaat Dam for the upcoming EasyEquities Brothers’ Challenge

After the first session we were slightly disheartened. The boat wasn’t flowing through the water as we had hoped and tensions were running high. So we got on the water for the second paddle… and things started to click. I think we just needed that first session to blow out some cobwebs and settle into things. One of our best sessions had to be on Christmas Day, getting up early and heading to the boathouse on a that day most normal people take off. We pushed off the jetty as we wished each other Merry Christmas. It was fantastic! The boat sang that day as we put it through its paces, up and down the track.

It was an amazing opportunity rowing with my brothers. Each of us brought a serious competitive edge to the boat, and it is clear to see why we have all taken to rowing so well and have celebrated such success at home and on the world stage. We took a while getting all our different styles synced up, but once we did, our boat really started to shift and our confidence has grown. We are hungry for the Grand Challenge and excited to see what the Buffalo throws at us this year.

We are also very excited to be partnering with EasyEquities for the Brothers’ Challenge. Just as they do, we don’t think success is very complicated. It just takes hard work and discipline. It is awesome to have EasyEquities to help us lift rowing’s profile in South Africa.

Of course we are also eternally grateful to RMB CIB for their incredible support and commitment. Rowing in South Africa would have a much harder time hitting the water without you. Thanks for Thinking.Pulling.Together. with us! That’s how winning works.