Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What I say, what I mean

This week my coach has been humoring some of the older oarsmen on my team and trying an experiment: Taking the oldest guys and putting them in a boat together, to see if, after the age adjustment, they are, in fact, our fastest boat. They've been grumbling that they don't make the top 8.

I am far from one of the old ones. Which means I've been in the boat of our youngest, strongest, best boat movers. Fine with me.

At practice we do long 8-10 minute pieces at 28 strokes per minute. A fair test for relative boat speed.

Coach sends the older 8+, makes us wait the age adjustment difference, then sends us after them. If we catch them, we've made up the age handicap.

Yesterday we were faster than they were, but short of our potential.

Today, one of the oarsmen on the team who is younger, and in my mind, more full of himself than he should be, was missing. And my boat flew. We made up the 30 second margin we needed on the older boat, and then moved out by another 30 seconds by the end of the piece.

And my teammates felt the difference. I moved from stroke yesterday to 4 seat today, taking the place of my mouthy teammate. And every guy in the boat rowing behind me told me after practice they felt I made a huge difference.

I say the polite thing. That he's just a few years out of college and hasn't made the transition to club rowing which requires a greater flexibility in style. Which is true. But what I mean is that he rows wrong, thinks he's right, won't change, and as a result, slows boats down.

He's the only guy on my team who gets on my nerves. Guys with 8 times the bragging rights he has also have 8 times the humility. I want to seat race him, let him see how much I kick his ass, see how I'm not mouthy about it, and hope he gets the hint: Shut up, pull, adapt, learn.

Coach did note that our 8+ this morning was one of the fastest lineups he's seen all year. He thought about it and realized we were very much like my 8+ that won in San Diego. Only three of us were in that boat, but, yeah, we were screaming fast today.