This past weekend I did not accompanied my competitive men teammates to row in the Head of the Ohio. Too far for me. Instead I stayed on the Occoquan and rowed with our Fitness rowers. The best description I have for the Fitness rowers are that they are a group that likes rowing, see it as an excellent way to get and stay in shape, but have no desire to compete in races. It's a mixed group of men and women and boats are formed up at practice depending on who shows up to row. As it turns out, they had enough to field an 8+ both on Saturday and Sunday. They spend a lot more on drill work then I'm use to so from that perspective it gave me an opportunity to refocus on my stroke and what I do right and what I do wrong. It was also different from the point that when I'm with the Men, being a lightweight, I'm far from the strongest rower. This weekend I was one of the strongest rower with the Fitness group. There was no power in the boat at all. The boat felt so very heavy and I can feel it in my lats from pulling such heavy weight. The fact that they tend to row at such low stroke rates contributes to the heavy feel of the boat. Still it was a way to get out on the water, even though we got rained on both mornings. Not downpours, more like a light sprinkle. Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, it looks like the men got two seconds and missed a third place finish in another race because they missed the finish buoy. Sounds like some bad coxing there. The Women got a third in their 8+.
After practice on Sunday, I was approached about coxing the Men's Club 8+ entry in the Head of the Charles. Apparently since it's a club entry, there is an eligibility issue with using high school coxswains in this category. Something about high schoolers competing against college crews. Anyway they needed a coxswain and I was asked. Now I have no real experience as a coxswain. Sure I've taken boats out a few times during practice, but never in a race. The Head of the Charles is probably the most challenging race for coxswains that I know of. Given the level of the competition, the various tight turns and the numerous bridges that have to be negotiated, it's difficult and requires a lot of quick decision making not required in most races. I accepted the offer, but I did encourage our coach to continue to look for someone a bit more experienced than myself. Another point is I'm hardly coxswain size. True I'm a lightweight rower, but at 160 pounds, I'm pushing the upper limits of being a lightweight. Our current coxswain probably weighs about 115 pounds, if that. That's 45 extra pounds of dead weight. If I remain the coxswain, I'm sure it will be exciting to say the least. Clashing oars between boats, collisions between boats, and hitting bridges as boats jockey for position are not uncommon. Hold onto your seats and pray I can get our boat through in one piece. More to follow on this.