Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Ya know the AC/DC song "Thunderstruck"? It's what a good row in the 8+ feels like. Energy and tension building, anticipating explosive release, then two bone pulverizing beats.

We were in mixed (ability level) boats this morning, which meant I got to row 4 seat. I'm rarely worthy of rowing in the middle of the boat, where one places the biggest and strongest guys. By conventional standards, I am big and strong. But I'm small for a rower. The middle of the boat is the most stable part of the boat. I call it "rowing on the couch". You can flop around quite a bit, and the whole thing stays stable. Which means you can really unload on the oar.

We started out a little shaky, and my teammate with the Olympic bronze from 1960 was crammed into the coxswain seat. He got us to bring our timing together, and we clicked.

Our final piece of the morning was to start off at 20 strokes per minute, then 24, then 28 over perhaps 3000m. We opted to row full pressure at the 20, and moved away from our other two 8+'s. At 24, we moved out even more. So our coach ordered a change of plans:

"Two boats behind, up to 28. Lead boat, hold the 24."

Sweet. A chance for utter domination: To hold the other crews while under stroking them by four beats. It's like walking next to someone who's running and going the same speed.

We stayed patient, and continued to remain sharply together in our timing. On every stroke, all blades entered the water quickly and in synch with a "whap" and everyone unloaded at that precise moment with their legs. Controlled rage. It was excellent. The water was calm and flat. The only instability in the boat was that which we caused, and we weren't causing much.

We finished about a length up on the other crews, after having been permitted to go to a 28 for the last 10 strokes.

Good morning.