Imagine waking up at 5 thirty in the morning on a weekend far away from home. A few of your teammates, about two or three, share a hotel room with you as the alarm goes off. You have about thirty minutes to get dressed, have breakfast in the lobby and check out before the charter bus leaves. Although you are exhausted from traveling the night before, you get out of the silk sheets and get ready to race.
After leaving the hotel, the sun hasn’t risen yet. Most of the team is trying to get sleep in as much as they possibly can to prepare for the long day ahead. You do the same.
This scenario is quite common on rowing teams across the country. Most people believe the stereotype that rowing is like kayaking and canoeing, but they would be dead wrong. Crew teams devote their time to constantly working out both on and off the water, using the rowing machines (called ergometers) to stay in shape. The competitions, known as regattas, are days where teams prepare from hours on end. Going out of town is quite a process, and getting ready beforehand is crucial.
I know a reader like you won’t enjoy reading paragraph upon paragraph of my blabbering, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. When leaving home for an away competition, a trailer brings down the slings and Ts used to hold the boats. A truck hauls the strapped down boats to the regatta sight. It takes fundraising money and donations to pay for charter buses there and back. As you can see, everything takes time and effort.
There are two types of racing: head racing and sprint racing. During head racing, which takes place in the fall, the boats row single file until one comes up from behind, passing the other. These courses are longer in length, usually around 5000 meters. On the other hand, during sprint races in the spring, all of the boats start side to side at the same time. These courses are much shorter, about 1000 to 1500 meters in length. All the teams can see who is ahead and who is behind, so competition is in full swing.
Don’t even get me started about rowing up to the starting line. My role as a coxswain, the smallest person in the boat, is to steer the boat, give commands (often technique fixes) and motivation to the other rowers. Many times, we are stuck sitting in one place while making the necessary adjustments when the current moves us. Before reaching the starting area the teams are very disorganized. A ref tries to move them into position, which takes time and patience.
However, once we are off, none of this matters. The adrenaline of racing flows through our veins as the exhilaration heightens, and everyone wants to win for their team. Because of all the preparations made from hours on end, our boats are sure to succeed.