006 | Bowloaders: Communication & Technique

Transcript

 

Welcome to CoxPod, a podcast for coxswains. I'm Breana, I'm Sally, and I'm Anne, and we're three coxswains with a combined 50 years of experience in the seat. We decided to share our knowledge with coxswains everywhere via this podcast and ultimately we hope to create a community among our audience - you - where coxswains can learn from each other.

 

SALLY: This is the second part in our discussion about bowloaders. After sitting down and trying to record the first episode, we realized we had way more than would fit in one episode, so today we're back with Part Two of that conversation. If you haven't heard Part One yet, we encourage you to go back and check out Episode 004. In that episode, we've covered all sorts of considerations about safety and comfort in a bowloader.

 

BREANA: And we know that episode had a pretty gloomy tone because we wanted to make sure our listeners were aware of those key considerations in this type of boat. But in fact, the three of us actually like coxing bowloaders.

 

SALLY: No, no, no. I don't just like it, I love it!

 

ANNE: Me, too.

 

SALLY: There's a difference, Breana - there's a big difference. One of the things we wanted to bring out is communication, because communication in a bowloader is a whole other animal than it would be in a sternloader. In a bowloader, you aren't visible to your crew - you're the silent voice crying out from the diaspora and they might have an actual problem not being able to see you, so that's something we really wanted to address and consider. There's also communication with the coaches - it's going to be again a whole other animal because laying down in a bowloader, you are a lot lower ... you can't hear sound waves as well ... you're a lot closer to the squeaky seats, the oarlocks, the whatever is happening ... the thunk of the pry - it's very difficult (at least for me) to hear over it. To me, bowloaders are amazing but they are a different animal and we just really need to be aware of that when we're communicating.

 

ANNE: I agree Sally, it's - as I think I said before -I really, really enjoy bowloaders. In fact, I think it's possible I like them even more than eights, but there is a shift that needs to take place in terms of communication and there's definitely a shift in communication with rowers.

 

SALLY: You are sitting in a completely different place - you are going from the stern of the boat to the bow of the boat so in theory, if you're laying in a bowloader, you should be the first one to cross the finish line unless something has gone horribly wrong. But it's really important to be aware of the fact that sometimes rowers are not comfortable if they can't see you, and that's critical.

 

BREANA: Yeah, it's definitely a very different feeling in a bowloader given all these things that you guys have said. It's very easy to become disconnected from the crew and start to feel like they're an entity doing their own thing ... and then you're also there lying totally isolated by yourself with no connection to what's going on and maybe you're making calls, but when it does come together in a bowloader, it is so gratifying. That feeling of, you know, even though you can't see each other the way that you can in an eight, you are one unit that's working together to make this boat move. So that's the plus side of this that can await when coxing a bowloader.

 

ANNE: Exactly. I feel the same way about that feeling of being a unit, but when you're not an established unit, in particular I like to think about the importance of (sort of) some pre-work before we even get into the boat or as we're preparing to go out in a bowloader with a crew that I don't know well. And one of the things is sort of an educational and clarification piece that I like to go through - and I have a specific conversation with bow seat because that seat is pivotal to successful coxing in the bowloader. So I like to say, "You know, in other boats, you will not be talking but in this boat, this is vital for the functioning of this crew. And you are my eyes and I need you to be able to communicate with me ... and let's develop a shared language". And every time I have a new bow seat, I go through the same conversation - and I usually even get so specific as to say, "If there's a safety situation you need to tell me immediately. However, when I ask you a question, I'm going to try to ask you 'yes' and 'no' questions. So I will say things like, "Are we clear to stop?". And they can say 'yes' or 'no' and then at that point then I'd let the crew know that we're gonna take a few more strokes or ... 'In two, way'nuff'...or you know, or 'In two, last two strokes and then we'll stop'. But I always try to ask yes/no questions. I do not want to hear from a bow seat a long verbal explanation because most of the time, I won't even hear half of it.

 

SALLY: It's exceptionally helpful when someone's trying to alert you that a boat is coming and they just go, 'Boooooooat', and I don't know if it's port or starboard or we're overtaking them or what, but developing a dialogue is really critical. And especially in the bowloader you have to learn how to trust your bow seats because we are in a place where we have reduced visibility and 'Boooooooat' is not as helpful as one might think it is.

 

BREANA: Yeah, these are really important points and I like to have that same conversation - and I try to get fairly specific about when I would like the bow seat to communicate with me. So, you know, maybe in a practice situation if you're the faster boat, you want to know anytime you're more than two or three lengths in front of the rest of the team so that you can add in a pause or something like that, and it's bow seat who can let you know about that. And maybe you can tell them, "I would like you to let me know when a boat's coming up if they've gotten within a length", because if you don't make those specifications, we could have an under-communicative bow seat who doesn't say anything and just lets you ... or says something vague like Sally was saying ... or you know, I've also had over communicative bow seats who are like, 'Okay, 17 and a half lengths away, there's an eight from another team and even behind them is a fishing boat'... (Like dude, that's so ... I don't care about them) …

 

SALLY: ...'and they've got blue spots on their blades and they look fabulous in the sunlight ... I wonder ...' 

 

BREANA: Like right! Like I've tried to be, 'Okay, we don't need to hear about them now but if they look like they're faster than us when they get closer, you let me know'. So same thing, you know - if maybe your team, the launch dies a lot - and so you're in the middle of a piece that is short and it's not going to take you very far, maybe that rower sees that the coach's launch has stopped moving and you know you could just finish that piece successfully, so you could tell them like, 'Let's wait until we're out of sight of the launch maybe, or we're about to be out of sight ... I don't need to hear like that they've stopped for one brief second ... like let's see if they get it back together'. All kinds of different things that you can request in different scenarios, and I also like to specify how I want them to communicate with me. So for instance, I've had this issue with a lot of bow seats who, you know, try too hard to use left and right as a marker ... and for people who haven't been in bowloaders yet, you're facing the opposite direction from the rowers (as in always) and you guys can't see each other and so I've had rowers try to do (you know), 'Oh something's coming up on ... uh ... your left ... no, my left ... no, you're right, ah'. And it's like we already have terminology - I try to help them understand - that is unique to each of us ... that refers to the same side of the boat, so like when I say 'port', that's your port, too. So we can all just use that terminology that already exists instead of attempting to manage left or right because, like you said Anne, you gotta reduce that cognitive load for them so that they aren't trying to spit out whole paragraphs as they're rowing. And these things can differ between practices and races as well. Like, I'm generally asking for a lot more information in a practice - especially on a busy body of water - because anything could be happening. You could have whole other teams that are about to split you as their practice comes by - launches, big boats, barges - you know, whatever's on your body of water. And so I may want more information in that situation whereas in a race scenario, I might tell the bow seat, 'You know, the only thing I need to know is if a boat is within a length so that I can legally do what I need to do to comply with the race rules and move to the side ... and you need to tell me which side they're pointed at because that's (you know) critical for us not getting a penalty'. Otherwise I don't care. Like there's very little chance that, you know, a launch is out there in your way or speed boat or something during a race situation. So we can differentiate between the kind of information you want from them in each of those situations.

 

ANNE: I completely agree that there needs to be more dialogue and pre-communication and discussion and agreement between the coxswain and the bow seat in a bowloader than I ever have with a stroke seat when I'm in a stern-loaded boat, so being as specific as possible given whatever scenario you're in - whether it's a practice or a race - and building that skill set and making sure that they're comfortable because they have a tough job, too. As an aside, when I get into a race situation or we're preparing for a race with a bowloader, I try to make sure that the rest of the crew understands that really one of the toughest jobs, is the person in bow seat because they are rowing and trying to watch everything that's going on behind you and communicate with you all at the same time. It's a really tough job, so I want to give a shout out to all the bow seats that have helped me do a better job as a coxswain in those racing situations. But I do have to say at the same time, one of the things to keep in mind is whether or not your bow seat can actually hear you ... or whether that person may have a hearing impairment. So one of my challenges one time was when I was at the Head of the Charles coxing a bowloader and we had had a practice with a men's four and all went well ... and then on race day, just before we launched, the bow seat took out his hearing aids. And it turned out that he couldn't hear me at all. So it's always a great idea to find out what the capacities are, and what your limitations and your strengths are of the team that you're putting together - the team of the bow seat and coxswain. Another thing that I like to make sure that I have an explicit conversation about is the role of stroke seat in a bowloader. So again, before we leave the dock, I explain what I hope the bow will be doing to assist me at the boat, and I also like to empower the stroke ... and I say out loud to everybody - to the stroke seat in particular - saying, "You are the one that I'm going to designate to have the privilege of shouting out if there's a safety situation ... shouting out at any approaching boat that is (you know) going to endanger us". So that basically there are two people in the boat plus the coxswain who are empowered, but they have specifics about when it is they are going to be talking. And then for race situations, just, I wanted to toss this out: I've kind of come up with a system where I designate two and three seat (in a racing situation) to be the ones to ID bow numbers, especially when it's like a head race and you know you're trying to sequence yourself in the appropriate sequence. I assign them, and so they might be talking, but they'll only be providing bow numbers. So that's my communication strategy. What about you guys?

 

SALLY: It definitely needs to be worked out before the 500 meter mark - preferably when people aren't anaerobic - is just my two bits. I think laying the groundwork ahead of time, y'all, is just brilliant and yeah, there are things you find out in the middle of the race piece ... you go like, 'Wow we really should have had a conversation about this before launching'.

 

BREANA: And I think the reality sometimes is also that you can't always, you know, we don't always have the luxury of controlling some of these things. So I've had a circumstance where I was going to a regatta and I only got one practice row and then the race with a boat that (you know) I'd never met the people in it before. And so I explained to bow seat as we're going out for the practice - 'This is your role ... this is what I'd like you to do' ... and then I had multiple instances of boats just passing me and bow seat hadn't said a word and so I realized, you know, this is not a job that this person can handle, but it's also the day before our race and (you know) we're not in a position to be changing lineups and you know I don't have any control over this, so I just knew that on race day, that was not a reliable individual for me unfortunately, and I just knew that I had to look back more often and make sure I didn't (you know) incur a penalty for blocking a boat's path that was coming up behind us. So again, you know, this is ideal world scenarios, but we acknowledge that sometimes things don't go as as you planned and you just kind of have to adapt - that's part of our job.

 

SALLY: For me, when you have a bow seat like that or there are times when you really need to sit up because there are complex coxswain calculations that I can't quite articulate to the boat - and shouldn't have to articulate to the boat - so I need to be able to sit up, look what I'm doing, and lay back down again ... and making sure that you are timing it with the rhythm of the boat and especially if your rowers have any modicum of skill, that you're letting them know you sit up because you are taking 35 - 40 pounds off the weight of the keel ... putting it higher up which is going to affect the set ... and you don't want them to compensate for your compensation which causes this horrible, horrible snowball effect. So when I need to look up (when my bow seat has gone to her happy place or his happy place and is no longer being useful), and I have to check behind me - when I have to sit up (which is few and far between) - doing it in a way that causes minimal disruption to the boat. It's hard to do ... you have to have a rhythm to it. I have screwed it up many times, but it's really important. That is also something you're communicating to your crew. Also, because I'm a little bit more aware of my environment, I can capitalize and use things like tide and current and wind to my advantage and laying in the bowloader, you can see it a little bit more and you can give your rowers just that much more of a heads up.

 

BREANA: That's very true.

 

ANNE: Yeah, there's so many ways that it's a slightly different animal and I think we're starting to really flesh out some ways that that's the case. Is there anything else that we wanted to talk about in terms of communication skills before we turn to talking about technical skills?

 

BREANA: One point I like to make also in terms of communicating with the rowers in a bowloader, is to emphasize that I cannot hear what they are saying. Like I can only make out vague noises, so (you know) if someone shouts something out in frustration in the middle of a piece because the set is off and they don't like it - in an eight you know, I can understand what's happened and just kind of move past it - but in a four, I'm hearing a vague yell from the middle of the boat. And so I've tried to convey to rowers that you cannot do stuff like that in a four. Like, if I'm hearing your voice, I'm going to assume it's an emergency and so that is the only circumstance in which I want to hear someone other than bow seat giving me information ... you know, shouting from within the boat. So that's really important to emphasize. That distinction is there - that it's - I don't have any way of knowing if you're shouting that there's something critical going on, or if you're just annoyed or trying to convey something you could convey later. So I think that's an important thing that I emphasize. And there are times, though, where it's appropriate to talk to the boat and, for me, that's in between pieces. If you're doing multiple pieces or even if it's a long row and you've just, you know, paused to do your river turn and get a sip of water before you head back to the dock, I think it's important to remind coxswains that you're allowed to sit up during that time while the boat is stable. And it's good to have a conversation with your rowers right there because you know they might get the sense (unlike in an eight where they have a direct line of communication to you) in a four, they might start to feel like, 'Well, I don't love the calls that she's making, but I just can't do anything about it ... I guess we'll just suck it up and have a bad row'. And so if you sit up in between a piece and talk to them and ask, you know, "How did that go ... like, what could I do better next time ... like, is there anything you're feeling that I'm not correcting?", those kinds of conversations restore the hope and restore the sense that you are all a unit that are working together. And then the rowers have the opportunity to offer input and you guys are more of a team and less of a totally disconnected person running things and then the people actually doing the movement, so I think that's important to emphasize.

 

ANNE: I think that is a terrific explanation of a positive outcome that can take place if you structure your practices and your communication really, really well. And again, it highlights the fact that you need to be adaptable to the bowloader boat and really figuring out - what do I need to do differently? And we're trying to point out a couple of things that you should keep in mind related to that. So we've been talking about adaptation of communication skills related to bowloaders and in the same way, we'd like to talk a little bit about now - technical skills.

 

BREANA: Yeah, we know this is probably the most anticipated section of this episode for our listeners. Every coxswain out there wants to know how to feel technical problems and how to make corrections in a bowloader, and part of the reason for that is that this is one of the things that has the least information out there ... about how to do it ... and it's also something that you're least likely to get coached on. Often coaches don't know how to help you gain these skills. So we're gonna take a stab at that today by focusing the remainder of our episode on feeling and correcting technique for coxswains of all levels.

 

SALLY: One of the things we will really kind of want to stress is that Breana, Anne and I have very, very different techniques and different skills and we bring very different things to bowloaders. And we would just like to emphasize that none of us had the same trajectory to learn how to do this, so when you are finding your way, your natural tendencies are going to help you see and feel and and hear things differently. And it's not necessarily a linear progression, but it's a cumulative effect. And it's really important that we embrace the fact that just because Anne says something (even though she says it in this really funny New England accent), it doesn't make it wrong, it just makes it different than how I would say it. And half the time, I can't understand Breana with her Allegheny talk, but it's just different - and that's really important because to be a very good coxswain - to be a great bowloader coxswain - you need to be confident and believe in yourself ... and know that your feelings aren't wrong, they're yours and kind of embrace that. One of the things that I do is over analyze (clearly) and you have to have more prescience than you would in a stern-loader. You have to kind of anticipate the emotional state of your crew because, you know, we've all been in eights where six seat leans out, rolls his eyes, and go, 'Oh yeah, they're exhausted'. Or you can watch five seat collapse ... you can watch the physical effects and the emotional toll it takes as the pieces drag on. In a bowloader, you kind of have to anticipate the fatigue. You have to anticipate the nervousness. You have to correlate what's happening with the blades, what's happening to the rowers both physically and emotionally, and unlike in a stern-loader, I can't use my non-verbal skills - I can't use (like) my face or hand gestures or things the rowers can see to help compensate and make sure the rowers are being heard and and felt. I have to use my words (like a big girl) which is very difficult, but for me, it's one of the most critical aspects of being in a bowloader.

 

BREANA: Yeah, this is such an important point and I think the audience will hear more as we go on about how we each had an individual kind of development of our skills, and how you can as well. You may have different strengths and weaknesses that come easily and other things will need more work, and yeah, it's definitely true that it's important to think about this fact - that we've lost all of these cues, that we probably don't even realize that we rely on (like) something as simple as just covering the mic and talking to your stroke seat. Now if you want to talk to your stroke seat, you got to turn around and shout four people back and everyone's hearing that conversation. So it's a very different environment and that's a really important thing for coxswains to understand. Another conversation we had a little bit, but we'll bring it up again, is related to how to sit in the boat. So often there's a misconception that the padding of some form that you see in there (close to bow seat) is a back rest for you, but in fact that's a head rest to the extent that it actually gives you any comfort for your head. So really, you need to be slid all the way down into the hull and really just the brim of your hat and your the tip of your head is what should be sticking out from from the shell. So you should not have your entire body still up (you know) over top of the gunnels, because your weight then is is much more poised to unbalance the boat - is the reason why we ask coxswains to do that. So one strategy that you can can deploy then - if you know you're worried about ... especially if you're just starting and you can't get a lot of information from the feel of the boat yet - if you need to see something while lying down you can tilt your head to the left or right and still get a sense of what's going on from the blade work. But in general, our advice is that you should be lying down pretty much all the time in practice - and certainly in races.

 

SALLY: And I think (as in with stern-loaders) locking yourself in place and if you can get a foothold which is not always possible with some manufacturers, but if you can get a foothold and brace your body. And every time they catch - or when you can get the average of the catches happening - you want to do a crunch on your abs and your quads and absorb some of the impact and some of the drive with your muscles. It's going to be easier on your body and it's going to help the fluid dynamics of the hull.

 

ANNE: Absolutely. The amount of connection that you need to have with the boat, especially using your core but sometimes I have to press laterally with my legs to keep myself from sliding forward - so there's sometimes that too, but being really connected to the boat and maintaining that connection through muscle contraction is pivotal. And also for your own physical safety as well. I was hoping we could also talk a little bit about pros and cons of bowloaders because I know we all enjoy them and I have a real love for them in the fact that especially with head racing, I feel like there's a big advantage to being in a bowloader primarily because of the visibility aspects of it ... I know exactly where the buoy line is ... I can see any kind of boats in front of me ... I can see how they are functioning ... and distance is much easier for me to know when I'm in a bowloader. How about all of you?

 

SALLY: I love bowloaders: they're fast, they're so fast and for me, I feel more tied into the boat so I'm able to feel changes - feel technique things - in a way that I don't in a stern-loader because I get distracted with, like, eight different oars and nine different catches, and the facial expressions of a truly haggard individual sitting in five seat. I just think that they are a really great way of competing. Breana?

 

BREANA: Yeah, I echo what Anne said about the visibility increases being one of the advantages that I enjoy in a bowloader, you know, if you have the kind that regardless of whether it's like a clear plastic splash guard or in a boat where the carbon fiber kind of comes to a point, you can use that splash guard - which is (you know) theoretically supposed to protect you from splashing but we talked on our last bowloader episode about how that's just not a reality - because it comes together to a point which is exactly in line with the bow of the boat, you can use that as a visual tool for getting your point ... unlike in an eight where you're stuck (kind of, you know) making do based on when rowers are at the finish and their bodies are hunkered down the lowest trying to see where your point is at ... unless you have some really tall landmark …

 

SALLY: ... based on the square of the hypotenuse, I can extrapolate my point …

 

BREANA: ... triangulating your point ... you have it right there, so that's one huge benefit for steering.

 

SALLY: I have to say that I do think I am a better coxswain in a bowloader because again, I'm not seeing things. I can feel the boat ... I can feel the timing ... I can feel the power and the rhythm, and I can hear the catches ... I can hear that squeaky oarlock that really should have been fixed three practices ago ... or I can hear the seats rolling up on tracks and know that errant wheel on two seat that's about to go and squeaks dreadfully ... like all of that - those cues - go into helping me cox a little bit more precisely. 

 

ANNE: Our skill sets just grow so differently. You know, the way we learn things depends on our personalities and our prior experiences and our level of commitment, right, to trying to master something. And sometimes our trajectory is slow and I know mine was because it was primarily all self-taught. What do you all think about that?

 

BREANA: Yeah, I think that can be really disheartening for coxswains. We're entertaining the scenario here where your team has started in eights and then one day your coach puts you in a four, and that could be a couple years into your coxing career. And so for the rowers, that's not that big of a deal - there are differences between how to row an eight and a four, but at the end of the day it's a very similar motion so they can migrate pretty easily - but for you, it's a completely different skill set (almost) now that you're deploying. Everything we've talked about so far - about how to position yourself, how to steer (the steering mechanism is a completely different thing), and so it can really feel disappointing to feel like you've been set back to square one where the rowers haven't. And so that's an important thing to just, you know, acknowledge and accept. And our hope here is that we can accelerate your trajectory via the information that we're sharing so that you don't have that experience for so long, but we just want to acknowledge that that's okay. And it may be a couple years in and you may feel like you're starting to get the hang of coxing and then you're just in this totally new environment - it's like you're a novice again for a while, so that's a very real possibility and a normal thing to experience when you first get into a bowloader.

 

ANNE: I think that's a great point and to help people be prepared psychologically for that feeling (potentially), and I know that I'd love to hear from any of our listeners who also have suggestions on you know how they made that switch, because it is a significantly different skill set. So how did you make that switch? What startled you? What did you like best about going into a bowloader? What did you like least and how did you overcome those early day hurdles? I know I'd love to hear from our listeners about that.

 

SALLY: I came up and came to my skills in an era where coxswains wouldn't talk to each other. We saw each other as a threat. We learned in a vacuum, so I think I would have benefited greatly from being able to talk to people like you when I was first learning how to do this, so I'm very grateful for this opportunity now.

 

ANNE: How about if we talk about boat feel a little bit?

 

SALLY: It feels cold and wet and hard.

 

ANNE: Amen, sister - yes, yes it does - um, but how about if we talk about boat feel now because again, to Breana's earlier points, sometimes it's just (you know) - one of the big questions is: how do you figure out what's going on when what's going on is open water (hopefully) in front of you? What do you think?

 

SALLY: I think that feeling is such an important part when you first get into a bowloader because, unlike in a stern-loader, I am well aware that there are four oars in the boat - I just can't see them - so rather than looking at them and counting catches or turning my head and craning (which will get you the worst stiff neck of your life, trust me), feeling the boat ... feeling the timing so you know when to count ... is I think like when you're first in the bowloader, that is the first thing to aim for: can I count? Speaking as a liberal arts major, I still can't count to 10 successfully consecutively.

 

BREANA: The ephemeral boat feel (you know) ... I think we've kind of framed this in terms of all of our senses that we have available. You know, we have our visual sense which we're very reliant upon probably in an eight especially as we start, but we can leverage our other senses a lot more, so in a bowloader - and have to - things like hearing ... what you can actually feel ... and our body's secret sense (is the way I like to think of it) of proprioception - of telling where your body is positioned in space - and using that as a tool. So for me, in terms of vision (as Sally said), you know if you're just starting out and you've transitioned from an eight and you don't have any other kinds of senses going for you yet, you can, you know, in a pinch (like) give it a glance behind you and just see on one side versus the other, how are the two people on both of those sides catching. Are they catching together? At least you can get a sense from that and hopefully you know in an ideal world you're starting to connect that to what that feels like. The splash guard, as I mentioned, also offers some visual abilities - so you can get a sense of the set based on how tilted the boat is towards one side or another. So that's another thing you can feel in your body - with proprioception - is which side of your body is (you know) dipped more towards the water than another ... but the splash guard visually can also be a clue to let you know about set as well.

 

ANNE: Yeah, I think that (you know) simple things that you've mentioned - just keeping them in mind, it's going to be very helpful to people. And in terms of catch timing, right, your peripheral vision will be able to catch (most of the time) bow seat's catch, so you will have both some kind of visual signal as well as something with hearing ... you'll hear it as well. And in terms of hearing, I mean, for me, that is (I think) my top go-to sense when I'm in a bowloader. That is where I think I get most of the feedback that I need to be able to make corrections or improvements in what's going on behind me. I'm very, very sensitive to the sound of the oars and the water and all the other things that are loading my sense of hearing, and it's my go-to. I can also hear breathing sometimes and I can judge some things off how the bow seat (in particular) is breathing. But as we have pointed out before, there are limitations to your hearing - there are a lot of distractions, a lot of things, so it takes some skill to be able to tune in the parts that you want to tune into your hearing, and to discard (or disregard) the parts that you don't. So I think, Sally, I liked your analogy at one point - when you were talking about the orchestra. You want to share that maybe?

 

SALLY: I can only relate this to music, but when you're listening to an orchestra there are people who hear the symphony and hear the music in its entirety, and then there are people who can say the second violin was off on the second movement, and pick out this subtle harmonic change and it's phenomenal. And I think again, in the bowloader, you're processing tons of information because your entire body becomes sensory input in a way that it doesn't in a stern-loader. You're literally laying on the hull and you just have to weed out the white noise - you have to hear the second violin - and it is entirely doable.

 

BREANA: Yeah, hearing was not my personal strength when I, as the coxswain - I was going to say when I started, but at any stage really - it took me time to develop that and I'm still working on it, you know. I eventually got to the point where I could hear the extraction of the blades and this is something that you can feel as well you know - at the finish if everyone extracts together and the blades are all coming out of the water together and everyone's feathering together, you hear this unified (like) thunk, but if they're not in time, it's four different thunks (you know) coming from behind you, so it's like ... and you can hear that ... and you can also feel that ... you can feel, you know, your body being pulled side to side quickly as everyone extracts the blades. So there's lots of things that you can build up to even if something is really not coming naturally to you. It takes time, but we're here again to just give you some ideas of how you could reach that point.

 

ANNE: Right. And I think that that's a great segue into sort of talking about levels of growing your coxing skills, right? And especially in a bowloader, (you know) when you first start out ... what are you going to do with that first time you get into a bowloader? Well, we've talked about (you know) positioning your body (and in review) kind of talk about how to sit there ... conversations that you need to have with your crew about their roles in communication and safety. But then there you are on the water - and you've launched and you're out on the water - what are you going to do then? I mean I think it's (as with any kind of growth and learning) - start with patterns. See if you can pick up any kind of pattern and then make your decisions based on what you're picking up from patterns. Like, does something feel differently on the drive when different pairs are in, you know, or does the timing sound different when different people are in? And then you begin to piece together in your mind and in your body what's going on behind you.

SALLY: My big thing is, I think, the pattern recognition. You're absolutely astute and you're spot on, Anne. But again, because bowloaders - you often have the feeling that you're alone (whether or not you are) - be confident. You are feeling real things, and and don't be pressured into saying or believing or doing things that you don't feel are safe, or that are beyond your skill set ... because it is very easy to fall victim to (or to be susceptible to) bow seat's input or somebody else's input when you feel you're out there and alone in a bowloader.

Just trust yourself. Keep your crew safe because you are going to be hit by so many different sensory things that you weren't aware that actually happened during practice, and you're going to get wet a lot - so just sorting through all these things ... getting comfortable with the seat ... getting comfortable with the patterns ... getting comfortable with the fact that you can actually (you know) ... there's a certain nihilism now because you're the first one to hit the bridge abutment, where before it was bow seat. Knowing that, recognizing that - there's so much to take into account. Find yourself, find your voice, be comfortable with the fact that yeah, I feel six different catches in a four - that can be a thing - and starting to trust yourself. So that, for me, is what is most important in a bowloader.

 

BREANA: Yeah, bowloaders can be kind of paradoxical in the sense that, you know, this may be your experience on your team ... it may not be the way your team is structured, but oftentimes I've found that a coach will set their top eight lineup that they want to practice with that day, and then maybe your team has a couple (you know) junk, super-old four shells and (their) the coach is just gonna round up the remaining couple of stragglers that didn't make that top eight. And they're gonna put you in there - in that four with them - and just send you off and you know, if you're lucky, you keep up with the practice and at least they're in your sights and you kind of still are on your coach's radar, but very often, it's the coxswains ... you know, when you need the most help, you're put in the most challenging situation. So we acknowledge that that can happen because that's happened to us and you're just thrown out there with the four (you know) sloppiest rowers on your team and how can you turn that around? You know, what can you possibly do in that situation? So what I did when that first started happening to me is (and you know you're not having the luxury of having your coach follow along and be able to help things) - so you could feel very hopeless in that situation like, 'How could I even start from here? I barely know anything about technique. I certainly don't know anything when I can't see anything and how do I move on?'. So one piece of advice I would give is: anytime you're in a four, you know, unless your coach tells you to do otherwise - switch people individually so instead of just doing stern pair and bow pair and switching back and forth between those, switch one port with the other port and then the next starboard with the other starboard so that all four possible iterations of rowers happen in the boat. And that enables you to start to feel these patterns, which is how I got my start with having, you know, no coach alongside to help me sort things out. I just started to get the sense - even if you don't say anything that outing - you know you're starting to get a feeling of like, 'Okay. So every time that two seat's in, you know, there's two of these pairings when I'm switching that contain two seat and two that don't - and every time they're in, I just feel this weird like hitch on the drive. And I don't know ... I'm gonna see if I can maybe tell them to press the legs down more smoothly'. And then you start to try things out like, 'Okay, I said it this time they happen to be in. They don't know I'm calling them out specifically. Let me just give it a try see if that improves the rowing with this pair. Okay, I rotate them out ... they come back in ... problem is back'. I try a different call - like, there's a very slow way (but possible way) to build things up - even if you are totally abandoned in this boat and you're just sent out on your own and you really don't have a lot of (you know) skills as you feel you do - as Sally was just saying. So that's a way that you can start to deploy them and start to develop a sense of boat feel - is isolating individual people. That's my tip.

 

SALLY: Building on that, so once you're getting comfortable with counting and the feeling and the cold and the wetness and the aloneness of it all, try one thing at a time. When you're feeling the hitch, like Breana said, try fast hands away to fix it. Don't try to do: fast hands and lighten your grip and this and this and this and this. Try one call and see the effect. And try another call and see the effect. If you try to throw everything on there, you're never gonna know what corrects itself - you're never going to know the impact of your words ... the impact of your suggestion. So just gradually try things you've heard the coach say, and sometimes the rowers will do it. Sometimes they will not. Sometimes you can feel the difference - sometimes you can't - but just slowly integrating what you've heard the coach says ... just parroting them and seeing the changes that make. I believe, Breana, you've got a story about when you wowed the varsity crew at Pitt.

 

BREANA: Yeah. I mean, this is just - it does speak to the the value of this technique though - is ... I had gotten switched into a varsity boat like it was some kind of very early in my novice year. It was like a Saturday practice where we mixed everybody up and they tossed me in, and I was mortified. It was this men's eight and I was (like) I'm gonna sound like an idiot ... like I don't know anything ... and I just kind of started (like) parroting things that I had heard my novice coaches say - like, "Oh, um, I guess we should press the hands down together at the finish". And probably didn't say them as confidently as I should have, but they were just kind of like blown away - or maybe they were just being nice, but they seemed surprised that I had this repertoire and was deploying it. And you never know, it might be right in that situation. So I think that's a great strategy, you know. The worst thing you could do is resign yourself and say like, 'Okay well, I'm just gonna clam up and this is just going to be a bad row in this bowloader ... it's just going to be bad'. You know, that's the  giving up aspect, but then they're saying like, 'Okay. How can I turn this around, you know ... even if it's like my first month and I really don't feel like I know much'. You do know some things and so reach in (you know) again as you get the steering down and you feel like you can safely add a second layer. Reach into your memory and just get a sense that like - rowers will be astonished that you could feel anything - so anything that you deploy is going to be really impressive. And from there you just build.

 

ANNE: Yeah, I totally agree with you and I think that a coxswain with excellent bowloader skills is a huge asset to a team, and it's something really worth working towards. As you both pointed out - sort of stepwise progression - building your sense of what's different in a bowloader. But it's not everybody's first go-to boat right, is it? It's (as you point out) a lot of times, you've been delegated to that because you're the bargain basement group that got left out of the 'A' boat - or at least that's the way you can feel. And most people are just chomping at the bit to get back into an eight. The benefits of being in a bowloader are innumerable and I think we're trying our best to articulate them here. I know that rowers who can really manage a four well ... when they go into an eight, it's smooth sailing. The fours bring out every pimple and bump and wart that could possibly happen, and when you can get a group of people going well in a four, that's really something to celebrate. It's very, very sensitive. It's a great feeling and honestly, we don't feel that they're an undesirable boat at all. I love it, right? What about you, Sally?

 

SALLY: Uh, the adrenaline junkie in me is just all about it - it's like being strapped to a torpedo. So yes, I like it. I suppose this is the adult way of saying it: yes Anne, I find it very incredible.

 

ANNE: I'm gonna ... I can also say because I'm such a chicken as opposed to you - the adrenaline junkie. I'm the chicken in the group and I don't …

 

SALLY: No, you're the feeling one in the group - not the chicken. You are the feeling one.

 

ANNE: I feel less fear in, you know, in a bowloader because I adore docking in a bowloader - it's so much easier than in an eight. Why don't we all say it out loud - that we are ... it's not something that we're terrified of for the last 200 meters thinking about, "Oh God, how am I going to get this big boat into the dock?" It's like, "Oh the dock is approaching ... here's how we're going to take it." I adore that piece about it, too, so..

.

SALLY: See, conversely, as I - in the bowloader - I am the first one to hit the dock. I go, "Huh, bow seat isn't listening to me anymore ... bow seat's gone rogue ... this is a problem and the dock is approaching and bow seat's gone rogue and two seat's doing their hair." So yeah, I think we're very different in that approach.

 

ANNE: Aren't we ever. We are really sometimes just two opposites here, so our listeners will get many points of view and then you can choose to identify with whomever you want. Breana, however, is so even keel she's kind of in the middle. Is that right?

 

BREANA: Yeah, fours are ... I enjoy the challenge of a bowloader ... that intellectual challenge is what brought me to coxing in general, so I still really love an eight. I do have - I enjoy leveraging what visual analysis can bring me as well and those little moments conversing with stroke seat. But there is something really special to having everything come together in a bowloader.

 

SALLY: I mean, there's nothing sweeter than an eight that clicks, but as you add more people the likelihood that something's going to go left or sideways in a bad way increases dramatically as you move down the boat. So you're more likely to get the nirvana that we're all chasing in a four.

 

ANNE: Well, we can even say that one of the benefits of bowloaders is that physical sense of proprioception ... that physical sense of 'being the boat' ... how often you can sort of melt into the boat and become one with it physically because so much of your body has contact with it. And you can take that feedback as you gain skills in (you know) sort of the intermediate ... moving towards advanced (you know) level of coxing ... in a bowloader. Sometimes it's just informational to the rowers because they have a totally different sense of what's going on up higher than you are (to the top of the boat) but you can tell them what's going on in the hull ... and right against the water ... and a lot of times, they just are interested to hear that because they don't sense it. And other times, you can make strategic corrections or changes based on what your physical body that's in connection with the boat is telling you, right?

 

SALLY: Well, and one of the things you really need to take in consideration ... trusting in the boat ... trusting in the hull is a good thing ... however, boats (like the rest of us) do suffer the ravages of time and they do begin to sag. As my friend and mentor Abby Peck used to say, "That boat has some jaunting curves". They sag and they get soft and it is actually possible for a boat to be down to port and starboard in the same pair. So when you're trusting the feel of the boat, acknowledging that the boat might not be as stiff and new and responsive to wind and waves and pressure as a newer boat might - it's still going to tell you something, but it might be a bit like a Boston accent ... a little muddled, very confusing…

 

ANNE: Hey now, that's a wicked …

 

BREANA: We never miss a chance ....

 

ANNE: I'll let that one go, Miss Sally. So about bowloaders though ... what other ... do we have any final tips to give our intermediate aspiring coxswains out there?

 

BREANA: One that I would say - which applies at any level - but you know, this is also pending the luxury of having this happen ... you can (if your coach is nearby and is following you and is monitoring your boat) ... you can make an effort to connect what you're feeling to the changes that they're asking rowers to make. So maybe you are starting to feel or hear those multiple thunks as the blades come out at the finish, and then you hear the coach say, 'Hey guys, finish timing is not looking good here ... like let's clean that up'. And you can say like, 'Okay, I was right. I knew I felt something was off and I bet that's what it is'. So next time you feel that when you're on your own, or the coach isn't there, or they're working on something else, you are now equipped with that as a potential call and correction that you could make. And you know, similar for anything that you happen to be feeling (like) if the coach is like, 'Hey, halfway through that piece the power really fell off', you can say like, 'Oh, I do kind of remember having a change in my feeling as that halfway point hit and I wasn't sure what it was ... so I didn't have the confidence to say it, but now I know'. And so that can be a really powerful tool if (again) you have the luxury of having your coach nearby, giving feedback that you can pay attention to. Moving into kind of our final level - we started as what can you do as a total novice in a bowloader - how can you continue to build those skills to more of an intermediate level - and then I just want to set the stage for you guys of the advanced level, with a story about when Sally was joining my master's team as a coach ... the one luxurious couple of months where I got to have the privilege of being coached by Sally. The rowers were like, 'Oh, we know Sally. She's coxed for us before'. And one of them told a story about a time ... she said, 'I wasn't back in like three or four seat, and then Sally was coxing and she just out of nowhere said, "Hey, I can tell that you're pushing off too much on your left foot more than your right foot, and you need to even that out".' And (like) this rower was just blown away and I was, too, hearing the story back ... that a person could feel that ... like a coxswain could feel that from all the way (in this case, it happened to be an eight, which is even more impressive) from all the way back in the boat. So that's where these skills can reach ultimately, and I'm personally not there ... I'm really working on it as I have the opportunity. So tell us - tell us how you get to this level, Sally.

 

SALLY: I have a high level of midichlorians in my bloodstream ... therefore, I tap into The Force. I would just preface this, too, with I still see myself as growing in my skills, too. I don't see myself as having a finite mastery of anything, but part of how I was able to tell that this woman was pushing off of one foot and not the other in an eight was: I watched the timing of her blades and I was watching the pressure and I was watching the angle and - again it was just pattern recognition - and I was watching the speed of the drive and ... I don't know ... it becomes a second language to me. I can't conjugate English verbs, but you put me in an eight - I can tell you where your pinky is supposed to be and ... I don't know, Breana. I wish I could explain it a bit better.

 

BREANA: One thing that might be productive is walking through one example. So something that I have always wanted to be able to feel better ... you know, I can feel the difference between a stroke that doesn't build at all and is (you know) ... we're just prying our blades slowly through the water just to get them to the other side and extract and go to the next catch ... or we're really applying power. So I can tell when that falls off, but what I would like to get to the point is saying (like) which of the four people in this bowloader is the person lightening up, you know. And how do I make an appropriate correction? So what's your strategy to something like that?

 

SALLY: It's pattern recognition and it's basically an appreciation of the physics. So each rower is prying on the oar and each oar is going to do something slightly different to the hull. In a happy, ideal world where all things are even and there's no wind and there's no current, you should feel this consistent pry ... this catch where everybody lifts the boat ... they are accelerating through and they feel their quads, and then they release and it should be the solid cathonk ... and then as they release, the boat (the whole boat) drops down a little bit. And the way coaches generally stack the lineup, they put the best erg scorer in stroke, right? So if stroke is dramatically out-pulling two seat, right, and then their power is such when they go to pry - when they go to hang on the oar - stroke is going to be pushing more water than two seat's, so there's going to be more weight on the front of stroke's blade than there is going to be on two seat's blade ... so that boat ... not only is stroke gonna cause the point to shift right, it's also gonna cause the lateral plane of the boat to shift slightly because more weight is going on to port side ... so it's gonna dip down to port ever so slightly. And two seat - because they're not moving as much water, because they're not moving as much weight - is going to be a little bit lighter. So think about it at the physics: if stroke seat is moving 180 pounds and that 180 pounds of water is weighing on the edge of the oar, and two seat's only moving 120 pounds, it's gonna be uneven on the scales, right? So it's going to shift just slightly and you can feel when they're driving who is prying and when, because bow is going to be moving well of course the bow of the boat and stroke is going to be moving the stern of the boat a little bit, so you can tell who's prying and when by how the hull shifts and to what degree it shifts.

 

ANNE: So Sally, do you experience that particular scenario as sort of a rolling of your body when you're in the bowloader? Do you feel like if it's being pulled to port ... do you feel like you're tilting your body laterally to port?

 

SALLY: Yeah, the hull is going to shift and sometimes the hull is going to shift stern and port ... sometimes the hull is going to shift bow and port ... and those very subtle - like, I believe in flying it's called the 'x' and 'y' axis …

 

BREANA: Roll, pitch and yaw ... in flying.

 

SALLY: That's it, yeah. So, but by paying attention to the roll, pitch, and yaw, you're able to deduce who's doing what - and when. In an ideal world you stay on a flat horizontal plane. I don't live in a ideal world, but you can feel like: stroke has got an amazing catch ... so it's going to pitch a little bit to stern and port side, but stroke rolls over the barrel and dumps into their lap so the boat's going to let up mid-drive ... but bow seat's got a much longer pry so you're going to feel it on the starboard side ... the boat's going to pitch a little bit to starboard. So it's a very, very subtle timbre.

 

ANNE: That, ladies and gentlemen, is more that ninja-level coxing that we aspire to, and hearing that's possible, that's making me even more excited to pop into the next bowloader I see drifting by.

 

SALLY: Use oars, don't let it drift.

 

ANNE: Okay.

 

SALLY: But I want to emphasize the point: I am still learning. I am still perfecting. The water, the current, the stiffness of the boat, the salinity of the water - all of this plays in the factor to how the boat moves, so sometimes I am really spot on and I can tell, "Three seat ... left foot ... you're not pushing enough". Other times I'm like, "Huh,I think I counted catches ... I can't be sure". So it's not a constant. It is something I work very hard on, too.

 

BREANA: We hope that was productive for our listeners and please share any and all things that you have about what you feel in the boat ... and what you hear ... and what you see ... please add to the conversation anywhere that you can find us online. And so we thought we'd conclude today with offering some tips for coaches (as we like to do). Just in the way that it's overwhelming for coxswains to have to transition to a bowloader, it can be for coaches as well. You may really want to offer some support for the coxswain - you may not be sure what you can do. So something we want to point out (as we've said), is that that trajectory of skill development can be very long. And so, you know, as a coach at a four-year institution ... perhaps a high school or a college ... you may not even see coxswains who've reached the point of that kind of expertise that we've just been talking about. That doesn't mean that you can't help them along the way, though, so we just thought we would introduce a couple of considerations for coaches to think about. Sally, what do you have?

 

SALLY: I love bowloaders. They are significantly faster in my experience than stern-loaders based on physics (which I'm sure we can launch into). They are faster, but with great power, it comes great responsibility, and I don't think they're an appropriate place to put a very novice coxswain. I really think that novice coxswains are better served - and better developed - in stern-loaders than bowloaders.

 

BREANA: That's something that coaches often are in the position of considering, so I've seen a scenario where a coach intends to boat a four, but they (you know) are gonna rent it at the venue or something. And so you could get a bowloader for your coxswain to use, but if you have a stern-loader at home and they're training in a stern loader the whole time, that may not be the time - on race day - for them to be in that bowloader for the very first time, even if it's "faster" you know, based on the physics that coaches always like to argue. There's the other element for you to consider of: has your coxswain ever been in this situation before? So there's multiple trade-offs there. We are people who are doing the job and so we're an extra element that, you know, you need to think about as you're making those decisions.

 

SALLY: For safety's sake, especially with novices, I wouldn't do anything different during a race than you would do in practice. I don't think it's just ... going to a coxswain ... 'Oh, it's a bowloader ... move the stick around ... you'll be fine' is smart or safe. Those experiences can be jarring, and unrewarding, and can make people who would ordinarily excel at our sport give up. I really think - at least for the first couple of months - a stern-loader is the best way for novices to learn how to cox.

 

ANNE: Interesting. I mean, I see your point Sally, but I guess I would offer up the perspective that - for me and other people who may learn the same way or have same sensitivities in an eight - I think it's going to take me longer and be more difficult to learn than a bowloader because I've got all that visual chaos in front of me in a stern loader ... and the blade work just can be so distracting to me. I think that, in some circumstances, it might be an easier transition to learning how to cox by being in a bowloader where you have less visual stuff going on in front of you. But again, that's just a different perspective.

 

BREANA: And feel free to chime in - any coaches who are listening - we have a special channel on our Slack just for you if you would like to contribute to this conversation or any others that we have on our episodes.

 

SALLY: I would just like to remind coaches that hearing is exceptionally difficult in a bowloader. Again, we're closer to the water ... we are closer to the squeaky wheel that should have been replaced ... and I personally have experienced the Charlie Brown parent sound - you know, the coach is standing there, bellowing with the megaphone and all I hear is 'whaaaawhaaaaawhaaaam,whaaaaaawhaaaaaaawhaaaaam...in two'. And I got nothing, so offering alternative resources to help clarify, will save gray hairs on the coach's head and also help facilitate the practice.

 

BREANA: That's so relatable, it's painful. I would re-emphasize that it is almost impossible to hear a coach if you are not pointing the megaphone directly at us in a bowloader specifically. This is not like, you know, you have five eights out and you can just generally sweep the megaphone across everyone. It really has to be directly pointed at us because we're just hunkered down into this little tiny space, and so that's so critical. And one thing that a team I've worked with in the past used to mitigate this concern (which works great in fours and eights) is to use walkie-talkies. So what you need to buy for an on-the-water situation is a marine radio - a VHF radio - and you can set that to various channels that people in the boating world use ... and your team can use that to communicate, and so that (you know) obfuscates this issue of coaches needing to communicate with you over the megaphone. But it adds another piece of equipment that your team has to purchase and charge, and this is another thing you gotta hold while you're in the coxswain seat and manage, so that's the drawback of that. But it can be very helpful for those situations where it's a dark morning and the launch engine has died and the coach lets you know that they're working on it, but could you please turn around because they've lost sight of you. It can be very helpful ... so especially in a four, you know, it's easy peasy to just hop on the walkie-talkie and then communicate the workout so that we don't have that (like), 'What am I doing in two?' situation, because that can also be challenging to your authority ... to have to turn around to your rowers and be like, 'Honestly, what was the workout, because I didn't hear anything'. So it empowers you a little more.

 

ANNE: I can totally identify, Breana, with that feeling of the undermining of confidence of the crew when you just have to keep saying, "I did not hear you. Please repeat". It's annoying for everyone. It's counterproductive and it's such a waste of time. Speaking of launches dying or whatever, I think in bowloaders one of my least favorite things (other than the whaaaamwhaaaaamwhaaaam Charlie Brown thing), is just the coach wants to make a point, so the coach drives the launch right up beside you and the motor's rrrrrrrrrr and then meanwhile they're talking. If you glance over, you can see lips going, but you cannot hear a blessed thing of what's going on. So please coaches - please don't do that to the coxswains in your bowloaders. Regardless of whatever communication strategy is being utilized in a bowloader, in particular - coaches please - and coxswains please - develop a system to acknowledge that you've actually heard the suggestion or the request, and that you're intending to implement it. And in a bowloader in particular, I would highly suggest raising the hand - and I don't just mean wiggling the fingers like 'Hey, hello' you know. Lift your hand every time that you believe that a request has been made and that you've heard it - and your arm is not going to go up until you have actually digested and heard what the instruction is. Do you ladies have any other suggestions related to that?

 

SALLY: Because I have hearing loss, I make it known to the coach and I repeat back what I think I heard. I try to at least go, "So I think I heard you say ... we're gonna make a move at the 800 in two", and it turns out we're doing eight minute pieces in two ... like, this is what I heard you say ... if it was incorrect ... so they know at least I'm trying and I'm not trying to go off and do my own thing.

 

BREANA: It's worth putting the effort in for that, too, I would say ... like sometimes there's the feeling that we gotta go ... the practice is going ... we gotta go ... I gotta just go ... maybe I can ask my stroke seat later what they said ... but you could really mess something up, you know, if they're about to start a seat race and they tell you the place for both of you to point at, and you raise your hand anyway and are like, 'Yeah, I think I heard it ... whatever'. You could throw that whole thing off, you know, you could do a piece incorrectly. It's better that you take a minute at the beginning and just check with the coach - did we understand each other? And if they get frustrated about that, we're here to talk to the coaches and say that this conversation is worthwhile. So even though it feels like 'I'm supposed to know stuff ... I'm not supposed to ask questions or ask for things to be repeated' ... it's much better for you to just - you look stronger, I think, as a cox than actually taking a moment to clarify before you go off and run a whole piece (you know) without changing rates at the right spots or whatever.

 

ANNE: Let's move along to talking about the favorite thing about coxing bowloaders as we draw to the end of this podcast. What is your favorite thing, Breana?

 

BREANA: Popcorn? For me, it's really I would say, it's that ability to build this sense of togetherness with a lineup and feel like we are part of the same thing. You know, we have this (like) shared goal and we're one entity moving together but my voice is my sole connection to the rowers. And then feeling through my body (as we've been describing, you know) - how they're responding, and that when that comes together is so cool. It can be really challenging until it comes together because, you know again, it can feel like two disconnected entities that are somehow in the same physical object moving through a practice, but when it does come together and you're really working together despite not being able to see each other - that is super cool. So that's what gets me excited about bowloaders.

 

SALLY: What do you think, Anne?

 

ANNE: The thing that makes me so excited about coxing bowloaders is something that I have not yet experienced in an eight - that is, being right in the water because you know you're just basically in the water ... your body ... you're part of the boat, and there are times in a bowloader that have been so smooth and so beautifully rowed for segments, that actually I respond by crying. And I cry just because it's so beautiful - that fluid feeling ... that just smooth movement forward without anything getting in the way of that. It's quite a beautiful thing and I've gone through seasons where I've been in bowloaders where that has never happened, but it has happened enough times that my crew that knows me best says, 'Oh, we made Anne cry' and that means that (you know) they have really hit the pinnacle of those strokes. How about you, Sally?

 

SALLY: I've been debating this for a bit and truthfully the highlight for me in a bowloader is Week's turn at The Head of the Charles. I thought of other more noble things like Breana, or more passionate things like you, and like - nope, just give me Week's turn! I love the feeling of accelerating through ... getting as close as I can ... playing chicken with the bridge abutment ... the strategy of nailing the inside bouy ... all that - like just Week's turn at the Head of the Charles - I think that is my penultimate bowloader experience - is my penultimate experience, period. It's just a bonus when I'm in a bowloader.

 

BREANA: Well, we hope that this has been an episode that has served you. And we, I'm sure, have so much more we could even say about bowloaders, so let us know your questions and your reactions across our various social media accounts and our Slack channel - with places for coxswains and coaches to communicate - and rowers as well if you're listening. So we want to conclude, as we often do, with a shout out, and we all know that (you know) fours are classically uncomfortable - bowloaders in particular - and so we just want to give a shout out to our favorite boat manufacturer, who is ______________ beeeeeeeep beeeep beeeeeeeep. (laughter) Thank you so much, we love your shells, keep making them.

 

SALLY: I love the padded head rest ... it's fabulous.

 

BREANA: Never changed.

 

SALLY: And it's so roomy for my hips. Thank God I never birthed children.

 

ANNE: And clearly - clearly - you took coxswains into account as you made your boats. But we still love them anyways. So what's ... really though ..

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BREANA: But what's our real show (yeah), our real shout out? We want to just give a huge thank you to Kayleigh Durm - author of the 'Ready all, row' blog for joining us on our last episode. It was an absolute blast to have a conversation with her and we are really looking forward to future conversations and other guests on our podcast as well, so if you didn't catch that episode, tune back in to Episode 005 to catch our conversation with Kayleigh.

 

ANNE: So how about if we then move on to our Quick Pick and I'm going to toss out this question: What do we miss most about fall racing?

 

BREANA: Hit it, Sally.

 

SALLY: You know - Week's turn! Sorry y'all, that is Week's turn

 

ANNE: I love your consistency and your passion, and by the way, that's a highlight for a lot of people. But yes, you - Sally and Week's turn - forever and forever. How about you, Breana?

 

BREANA: For me, it's ... I love head racing probably even more so than sprint racing because I get this prolonged time where I can deploy my skills, and I feel like I can really have an impact on the race, you know, over the length of it. It's those little steering decisions of like - how close can I shave that buoy ... like I know I can get closer than anyone else ... and how can I improve, you know, and keep us engaged for 20 (you know) ... up to 20 plus minutes on this course? How can I keep us focused and improving constantly and forgetting about the fact that we're dying inside and our legs want to quit? How can I bring us back together and, you know, pass other crews and everything. So I love that aspect of fall racing. How about you, Anne?

 

ANNE: Well, I have to say I most enjoy passing people and seeing it ... you know, planning it as you see that boat in front of you ... planning that move through ... actually executing it and all that comes with that, you know. It's a simple pleasure based on the strengths of my crew and their skill set, but it's still very exciting for me.

 

SALLY: I would just like to point out all of these things are fabulous, but also doable at Week's turn.

 

BREANA: Very true.

 

ANNE: Oh Sally, we're going to do a whole episode on The Head of the Charles - I just know we are.

 

SALLY: Promise?

 

ANNE: See, I do promise okay? So we love to (again) hear from our listeners about what you miss about fall racing? Any comments you have, let us know. If you've got another one about fall racing, think about it, and enjoy it and share with us please. In the meantime, we definitely invite you to engage with us on social media and on Slack where your question might get featured on a future episode ... in addition to Sally's discussion about The Head of the Charles. Anyway, I digress. But we'd also love for you to consider supporting us on Patreon if that's something that is of interest to you. For our patrons, we're going to be offering early access to some of our upcoming episodes ... the chance to have input about what we're going to talk about in future episodes ... and other fun perks like blooper reels (not that we have any). We are truly excited to bring you more content soon and until next time, I'm Anne, I'm Breana, and I'm Sally - signing off for now.