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038 | Head of the Charles: Practice Day



ANNE: If you're fortunate enough to be coxing at the Head of the Charles, part of your preparation may include getting on the course on practice day. 


BREANA: As two coxswains who've had the privilege of coxing this race multiple times, Anne and I want to talk specifically about this day. As far as regatta practice days go, it seems unique to us in that there are various factors converging to make this day feel really chaotic. We sometimes joke that it can feel like mayhem out there. 


ANNE: Well, only partially joking because the reality is for me, it often feels like that. And I'm thinking back actually about my first time at that practice day and how unprepared I was for what unfolded in front of me. 


BREANA: Same here. I mean, I studied extensively for my first time at this race. But nothing in that studying alerted me to the fact that the practice day is quite a different experience and should be prepared for as its own unique thing. 


ANNE: And good news! Over the years, we've picked up some strategies that can help you and your crew feel well prepared for practice day which ultimately translates into being prepared for race day. So why don't we talk a little bit about what goes into we call the mayhem. To start with, historically this regatta has had over 2,000 entries. That's a lot. 


BREANA: And for that many boats to actually complete racing, that takes two and a half days. But on practice day, in theory, that many separate boats could all be on the water during the same practice window. 


ANNE: I don't call it a practice window, Breana. I kind of laugh and say it's more like a practice blink. A few years ago, it became even more so when they compressed the time from a full day of practice to a partial day. 


BREANA: Yeah, and during this practice blink, there can be all types of boat classes on the water at once. Truly everything from junior eights to masters singles and any given shell out there might have any level of experience on the course from absolutely not at all - it's their first time - to someone who has done it for many, many years. 


ANNE: Well, another factor is that we're sharing - all of us … all these many boats potentially - a very narrow river. The geography is impressive in terms of being challenging. It's very narrow in certain sections. It has big turns and there are the six bridges. 


BREANA: There are those geographic factors which attract many of us to this course because it is so complex. So there's that. There's that compressed time frame that we've been talking about, plus the volume and variety of boat classes that are out there. These things compound to make this potentially a really stressful day. 


ANNE: While it can be stressful, we do have those suggestions that we're going to share with you now about how to best manage the so-called mayhem of this practice day. And this starts with what you do even before practice day. Breana, why don't you share some of the things that you keep in mind? 


BREANA: Well, to start off, just like you would study the race packet for an event that you are going to, you should also read the practice day guidance that is provided on the official Head of the Charles website. And the guidance that's there serves as the race packet for this event. 


ANNE: It's really important that you continue to check that as race time and practice day get closer because there can be updates that are posted there. So don't forget to keep checking there even for information about practice day. 


BREANA: And when you read those practice day rules, you will find that there can be real consequences to what goes on practice day. You can actually, for example, get penalized or even disqualified due to your boat's behavior on that day. So it's something that you should prepare for and take seriously. 


ANNE: As you continue to review the information posted on the Regatta website, you should also specifically look for the race course maps. And for the purposes of practice day, you really need to get an understanding of the geography of the river, where the travel versus racing lanes are, understanding terminology such as the Cambridge side, the Boston side, other things such as buoys, where there are pinch points and open areas. So you really, really know what's going to happen around a corner, a bend - literally and figuratively. The bridges, of course, are a key component of this really famous race, but just make sure that you have a clear understanding of both the travel and racing lane patterns. It's easy to focus on just the racing lanes and where you're going to be going and turning, but please for practice day in particular, make sure that you understand the limitations of the travel lane. 


BREANA: One other important thing that we'll mention when it comes to understanding the geography of the course and what you're doing on practice day is that you must travel the entire length of the course. Even on practice day, there's no such thing as crossing and rowing a partial course. So make sure that that's factored into, for example, your time calculations on that day. 


ANNE: And now let's continue the conversation about what we do prior to practice day. This is sort of a category that we're gonna call managing expectations. 


BREANA: And why do we even bring this up? Well, in addition to a race day plan, your coach is going to give you a practice plan which might include everything from elaborate warmups that you'll be assigned to do on your way up to the start and then how you should approach your practice row down the race course from the start line to the finish line. But the reality is that given the constraints of the practice day that we've already been talking about, you are probably not going to get to carry this plan out in full. 


ANNE: If you can, that's fantastic. Well done. But the realities, as Breana has pointed out, of the congestion and the geography of the river and the volume of people trying to get their practice in oftentimes precludes accomplishing all that you've had laid out. So that's why we're suggesting you have a conversation with your coach and your crew about how to adjust the practice day plan that you have based on what you're facing as you go through the congestion and the geography, etc. 


BREANA: The real goal – at the end of the practice day – is to feel more confident and prepared for race day. So entering with appropriate expectations for what you might be able to accomplish can help you and your crew leave that day feeling satisfied rather than disappointed that you didn't get to do every single pre-planned thing. 


ANNE: Said another way, Breana, is that the coach is going to lay out an ideal plan. And you are ready to execute that if you possibly can. But that conversation needs to take place so that you are able to scale back from the ideal to whatever is feasible and come off the water feeling that - mission accomplished … you're ready for race day - as opposed to feeling confused or not having the confidence of your crew behind you because they saw different behaviors than they might be used to. 


BREANA: This brings to mind for me a recent experience at the Head of the Charles practice day where I was with a crew that didn't know me prior to that day. We had not worked together previously. So this was our one opportunity to get to know each other - to find cohesion as a boat. And now that I've done the course a number of times and given the compression of the practice day in recent years, I wasn't making a particular concerted effort to, for example, claim the tightest possible race line because I've been out there. I feel confident that I can steer us effectively through the shortest course when I'm out there racing and it's just our event. So on the practice day, I was treating it more as here we go down the course … we're learning about each other as a lineup. I'm showcasing to them that I have knowledge about the landmarks, etc. And then when we got off the water, the rowers approached me and said, “You're going to be a lot closer to the buoys than that on race day, right?” And I had to reassure them that absolutely - I am very familiar with the way to get us the best course. And I will absolutely be fighting for that and advocating for that on race day. But on practice day, I made the decision that I was not going to go into the fray over there on the buoy line where dozens of other boats were also fighting for dominance. So this is what we mean when we say managing expectations. The rowers interpreted that decision as, ‘Uh oh, she doesn't know the course’. And I had to reassure them that that choice was a result of what practice day is like and the reality of those logistics. 


ANNE: Precisely. And when you have that conversation in advance of practice day, then your rowers understand that this is not the way that you are going to be performing on race day. This is a function of the limitations of practice day. And again, if you go through smoothly and you're able to do it all, that's fantastic. But more often than not - this is where we are cautioning you - you have to have a level of comfort in making the safe decision on practice day that will potentially affect how you execute that practice day plan. 


BREANA: And it can help to remember that this one practice day, a day or two before your race, that is not your ultimate race preparation - neither yours nor your rowers. All of that should have happened already. So what are you really adding when you go out on the course on practice day? In my view, it's things like experiencing that geography in real life especially if it's your first time. But we all know year to year there are slight changes. Maybe a buoy is in a different place. Maybe a bridge is under construction and it looks different now. So you're going out there and you're saying to yourself, “Oh, that's what that mile marker buoy looks like”. 


ANNE: Or “That turn is a lot tighter than I thought it looked on the map.” Or “There's some rocks over there along the travel lane. Oh, that's not on the map, but they're for real.” So yes, get acquainted with the geography, the size, the sound, the volume of boats, all of that. That's a win. That is part of what you are trying to accomplish. Even if it's not articulated, this is one of the big benefits of going out there on practice day and putting up with all the chaos that you may encounter along the way. You're going to be taking important information away with you. And this is the day to do that. Another important piece of experiencing practice day is that you get acquainted with the volume of boats in particular areas of the river as you're going down through the travel lane. And you're also going to have your rowers more comfortable with dealing with boats in very close quarters. And part of having people prepared is also making sure that you have practice maneuvering with your boats. They know how to back carefully. They know how to pull their oars in - if need be - if another boat isn't encroaching too much. We really need to have a skillset that's practiced in advance of different stationary maneuvers to keep yourself out of really interesting situations. Just have your crew feeling like the chaos that's happening around them is not internalized - that they are feeling confident, together, organized, and successful. And everything on the periphery, everything that's happening around us sort of tries to pull that confidence and calm away from us. So have your crew prepared for the chaos. You be prepared and have a structure that will help support you to be confident through this practice day. 


BREANA: Another way in which the calm and the confidence that you're trying to establish might feel like it's getting pulled away from your boat is the time pressure that you may feel even on practice day. You can mitigate that by understanding that everything is going to go slower. We have to have a lot of patience on this practice day. We have to anticipate that everything - from waiting in line at the dock to traveling down to the start to actually going up the race course - is going to take a lot longer than we might expect because of the congestion of just all these people and equipment on this narrow river. 


ANNE: And having this conversation with your coach and crew in advance of practice day helps everyone to understand that this is norm, this is expected. And so you also don't have your coach tapping the wristwatch and it's now 30 minutes since you left the dock and saying, “Where are they? Where are they? I'm worrying about things”. No. This is all part of the - let's call it ambiance - of practice day. It's not something that you are doing wrong. So everything takes much longer than you think it's going to. And if everybody understands that, it becomes a non-factor. We've talked through now preparation prior to practice day. Let's now bring ourselves up to the practice day itself just before you launch. 


BREANA: Step one is getting your boat in the line - yes, line for the dock. That might include walking your boat on land quite a ways to the end of that line. With the compressed schedule that we have been harping on already, there will be tons of boats waiting at every dock. It's not a matter of picking the boat up at your trailer and walking a few feet and getting right on the water. 


ANNE: Long lines, can I say it again? Long, slow lines. 


BREANA: And if you're lucky enough to have other people around to support you on practice day, they may be able to ease this process a little bit by carrying slings that you could rest your boat in. If you're a team, for example, that takes all of your shoes off when you get into the boat, make sure that you have someone on land who can handle those things because this is not a regatta - with the amount of traffic and use that these docks are getting - where you can leave things just lying around on the dock or in the dock area. 


ANNE: Yes, we should talk about the docks themselves and this launching area for just a moment, Breana. There is an area that's called FALS, which stands for Finish Area Launch Site, F-A-L-S, and we all talk about it as FALS. It’s quite an extensive length of shoreline that has docks sort of peppered apart from one another for both launching and landing. They are numbered. I'm going to suggest that you remember which dock you launched from because when you come back, it's possible that you're going to have to pass other docks to find whatever number you launched from. I once forgot my dock number and we ended up landing at a different dock and it was a long walk back to the trailer. So don't be me on that. Just remember your dock number. 


BREANA: So now we're going to get on the water. And because of what Anne just described - where we have multiple different docks that shells might be launching from - as you shove off the dock, you're already entering the flow of traffic. You are in the travel lane already. That means that you need to pay attention as you shove off the dock. Make sure that you look behind you or if you're in a bow loader, ask a rower to inform you to make sure that you aren't shoving directly into a boat that is already underway and traveling down. So find an open spot, then go ahead and shove. Get off that dock quickly and get moving quickly. You do not want to shove and spend a lot of time sitting. 


ANNE: And discerning which boats are actually landing at the same dock that you are launching from can get confusing. So heads up. This is part of the time that you are on a swivel throughout this experience and you need to communicate both - if there is a dock person there - communicate with them and also your rowers. Okay. But keep an eye out. There might be an eight that's barreling along thinking that they're getting their ideal workout done and you are trying to launch and no good can come of that so choose wisely. And then right after FALS, what happens, Breana? One of our favorite places, it's the... 


BREANA: I call it in my mind the Eliot Choke Point. 


ANNE: Me too. What is this? 


BREANA: This is a mass of boats … what becomes a tangled web … just an absolute mess. This glut of shells above Eliot Bridge waiting to go through this one arch in the travel lane after which - your studying will tell you - there is an extremely sharp bend to the starboard side. So we're all launching from all of these many docks and traveling up there and then we will encounter a completely dead stop which could be for a substantial amount of time. 


ANNE: As in a half an hour or more. 


BREANA: At least. 


ANNE: And the scene is is that yes, all these different boats could be again, let's remember: singles, doubles, big eights, all sorts of boats, all different skill levels, everybody anxious to get down to the start and have their practice row down the race course for the Head of the Charles. These are all sitting there trying to get through that one arch - by the way, which you have to go through in a single file. So, there's a lot of sitting there. There is a lot of chatter. There's sometimes tempers involved. So let's talk a little bit more about how to handle that. 


ANNE: Yeah, our first piece of advice is that as a coxswain, you really need to find a balance between appropriate regatta etiquette … respectful interactions with your fellow competitors … but also not getting walked all over. So you will find that this is a tense situation as you get closer and closer to the bridge. Everyone is jockeying for position and you may be getting instructions from a river control volunteer who will be on the shore with a megaphone and maybe dictating which individual shell is going to go through. But you do kind of have to assert yourself and maintain your place - especially as a larger, coxed shell so that you don't get passed up and walked over and left behind by all of these other shells and smaller boats or people being more aggressive in their behaviors. So we wanna be respectful. We don't need this area to get any more tense or stressful than it is but you do also need to look out for yourself and your crew and make sure that you are staying in the fray, you're tapping it up, you're kind of holding your place so that when it is your turn, you're able to make it through that bridge and get on with your trip down the travel lane. 


ANNE: You get to know different boats and different people's personalities. And I think that it always behooves you to start a negotiation with those boats around you early on. Be friendly. Be courteous. As Breana has said, be calm. Have a demeanor of control and work it out with the people around you even if you have to sort of self-regulate. If you see there's a single that's sort of trying to weave in and out - and I've seen this many times. They're often singles or doubles. that are trying to weave in and out and in between the big boats and rush up to get through the archway. There are ways of just saying, “Excuse me. We're all waiting for the same thing”. Normalizing it. Use some phrases like that. “We all want to get there. Let's work together” is another nice phrase to use. “Let's work together. How can we self-organize in order to make this go as smoothly as possible?” There will be likely boats coming very, very close to you. This is again, where you're going to be using your maneuvering skills. So you may have to back up or you may have to turn your boat (sort of) with a river turn. Try to keep moving forward but don't jam up because you do not know the skillset and the control that another boat might have. But tempers sometimes flare here.  Be calm. Be consistent. Listen to river control. They may give conflicting information. They might not be able to identify a crew because often we are not in our racing team gear. So imagine a volunteer or a race official standing by the arch at Eliot trying to figure out how do I get this clog - and it's nothing but a gigantic clog growing by the moment - of anxious people and different sized boats through that one little hole. And by the way, then around a tight corner, all single file. So Breana, what's your take on that? Like what might they hear from river control and what happens there? 


BREANA: My experience has been - as Anne said, that because we aren't necessarily identifiable - that this individual is doing their best to fairly and equitably send us through this arch … get us underway. And they're often directing people so you need to be prepared as a coxswain to hear something like, “Boat in the white shell with the blue oars” … you know, “Four - bow loaded four with purple oars and bow seat has a white cap on”. So be listening for that to know for one, when is it your turn or when might a space open up in front of you that you can close that gap a little bit. And then really important for your entire time on the water at the Charles is if a river control volunteer is speaking to you, just raise your hand to acknowledge that ‘I heard you and I am going to implement what you asked’. So that's just a helpful tip again for your entire interaction with people on megaphones throughout the race course. 


ANNE: It's easy to forget that simple thing but it's so great in terms of communication. And my experience also there has been sometimes the river control person will try to dictate (you know) which rowers … how many rowers they want you to go through with. This can be a judgment call because you know how your boat will perform. Two strokes of your, let's say bow four, for instance, might push you right into the stern of the boat that's ahead of you. And you are in charge of your boat. Raise your hand, smile at the river control, but do what you need to do. Try to comply as much as you can, but safety first. And this is a really important place to be safe because they're not any outs. Once you start to go underneath that arch - we're going to talk about that in a moment - once you go into the arch, you are into the travel lane. And this is a really important place to have control of your crew, distance from the boats before and behind you, knowing when they're starting and stopping, empowering your stroke seat - if you're in a bow loader - to have verbal communication with a boat that is just crowding you way too tightly. Or making sure that you are turning your head and watching what's coming behind you because it's very easy for boats to sort of lose track under the pressure of people saying, “Go. Go”. You know, nobody wants to be stalled here … to kind of cram in. We need to work together. Nobody's gonna get there any faster than the people in front or behind them. It is a traffic jam. You will all get through, it will happen. So Breana. Our bow ball's just gone under the arch. Now what? 


BREANA: Well, now we're into one of the two most difficult turns of the travel lane. Right after you pass through Eliot, you have a sharp but long turn to the starboard side on a very narrow stretch of the river. 


ANNE: And it's so sharp, isn't it, that you cannot see what's beyond that turn. And to make things even better, there are people often barreling down the racing lane heading towards Eliot, all amped up, trying to hold their line, and they can be very close or out of control coming towards you as you're making that sharp turn. Isn't this exciting? 


BREANA: And to make matters even worse, as you're hugging the shore around this turn - keeping an eye out to your port side because again, people might be coming that way and they might not necessarily be on the course as they will hope to be on race day because they're learning and they're practicing and they're dealing with traffic - you'll notice that on that starboard side are rocks coming off of the shore … trees hanging over your boat. So you need to be extremely careful. And as a reminder, this area is a single file and it’s pretty much a blind turn. So you cannot be barreling around this turn. You need to be prepared to stop and go at any moment. The goal is to be moving continuously but there's often quite a bit of stopping. You might have to employ pauses. You might have to employ other drills. You might have to be rowing by partial boat or by partial stroke, like an arms and body only, to just be getting safely around this turn. And again, the whole thing, tight turn to starboard. 


ANNE: You will use all the tricks that you've got to go successfully through here. And again, if the crew is well-prepped, they understand that this is going to happen. Everybody will just manage it so much better. This is part of practice day. It is also often part of race day but not to the extreme that it is on practice day. And that's part of why we're having this conversation, right? And so the single file lane with the starts and stops …. people might even try to pass you. Silly. Silly to do that. There's no way that they can pass you but people might get it in their heads that they could. That single file lane persists until you're down near Harvard's Newell Boathouse. At that point then, what happens, Breana? 


BREANA: As the river opens up a bit more here, there can be a little bit of reshuffling of crews. If you have that super fast boat breathing down your neck as you are coming around the turn, single file, they might squeeze around you here and pass you or you might have had some smaller boat that's moving more slowly in front of you that you wanna pass, and that's okay to very carefully do in this area before we head to another single file place, which is Weeks Bridge. That's our second most challenging part of this travel lane experience. 


ANNE: And of course, because you studied the course map, you know that this is another incredibly sharp turn to starboard. Know that you’ve really got to keep your boat controlled and turned quickly, efficiently. And then right after that turn, it again opens up so that there can be passing and as Breana likes to say, sort of reshuffling will be happening. Now you'll notice that so far - even on practice day - there really are not any ideal places to pull over out of the way to, for example, get water because there is no place that's really out of the way. So you've got to keep moving. And between Newall and Weeks is often where people try to take some power 10s and 20s. So be prepared for all sorts of activities. And meanwhile, you've got singles and doubles and so forth that are doing their thing, too. 


BREANA: After Weeks, you’re in the straightaway – the reverse of powerhouse stretch. And then after you pass through the last of those bridges - River Street Bridge - then you are finally in a much more open area where you can - if you need to make an adjustment to your equipment, if your crew needs to take off some layers, if they want to get a sip of water - that is the spot where you can pull over towards the starboard shore and be out of the fray a little bit to stop your boat for a moment. So be looking out for this area where the course opens back up and you've got some room to not be bothering people or getting run into if your boat is going to pause for some logistical things like that. This is also a really nice time to just celebrate, appreciate being at the Head of the Charles. So you may encourage them to do something we usually don't do as coxswains with our crews like look around, appreciate being in this beautiful area, on this beautiful body of water. What a privilege. You might have on your way down to this point so far, or you might also continue to do this on your way up the course … you might point out certain landmarks that the rowers can take note of especially if it's the first time for anyone in your boat. 


ANNE: And following that open area, you're going to pull back into the travel lane, head underneath the last bridge down towards the start line. There it's going to be a little bit different than race day in that most of the boats are going to turn well before the actual warmup area that you're going to utilize during race day. This can be an ideal time to pull over to the side, pause, take a water break, again, adjust clothing if you need to. But more than that take a second (sort of) scenic moment. This is a perfect place to just have people chill for a minute, look around, look at the skyline, take in the sights, enjoy it, really have fun with this particular period of time before you turn and then get ready to go into your practice race. 


BREANA: It is important to pause for a moment to do that because once you're on the course, it's all business and same thing on your race day. So we really should take advantage of these moments that's part of the experience of being at this event. 


ANNE: And then, when you have your crew back and ready to actually take off, you're going to be turning and then you're going to be bringing yourself to the beginning of the sort of self-organized, imaginary chute. It's very likely that on practice day, there will be multiple boats going through the start line at the same time. It's quite a unique experience. But it's wide enough to have multiple boats - potentially of all different classifications and sizes - go through the start line at the same time. So this is where again, you've got to have leveled expectations because safety here is paramount. People are amped up, they want to get a full race day prep under their belts, and it may be possible and it may not. So you may end up not getting your full start. That's okay because you've prepared yourself and your crew for that potential. Please also have your head on a swivel because if you are a faster boat, you may be encroaching on a slower boat. They can't do anything about that. You are responsible for controlling your boat and not causing a problem for yourself or others because - as Breana has said early on - your behavior on practice day can potentially have an impact on your race time. More than that, the last thing you want to do is put your crew or another crew or individual in a position to have damaged boat, a damaged person, or a negative experience that gets them rattled. You want to have a positive ‘I can do this. We can do this together’ experience as a preamble to a really great race day. But you only do that if you're willing to potentially sacrifice what you call the ideal race prep. 


BREANA: That's right, Anne. This is absolutely the correct outlook to have about your practice day so that you come out of it feeling confident, feeling like it was a successful day. And in that light, it's really important to know that the rules of racing do not apply on practice day. You do not have any right to press the optimal line. There's simply no point to spending your trip down the course screaming at other smaller boats to yield and things like that. That's just not appropriate on practice day. Even if you're a faster boat, you do not necessarily have the right to claim the fastest line. You certainly don't have the right to barrel through other people. You have to maintain safety and decorum. 


ANNE: And this may involve you coming to a full stop during your so-called practice race. I have had to do that numbers of times because there's been a single that suddenly veers or stops in front of me because they're doing their best to get prepared for race day. They're stopping, they're looking at their point, they are confused, whatever it may be. You also have some crews out there that don't have as much experience and they may be uncertain about how to actually take a turn. So you will find them cutting in front of you. So be prepared to take evasive maneuvers. And here's a place that you can really use a deep skill set of understanding boat distance and speed because you can position yourself and sacrifice potentially some of your rating or your pressure. If you see a clog of boats ahead and you know that you want to practice that particular turn, pause, give yourself the space. Make sure there's enough distance so that you can then with your crew, get that great practice turn in. Again, use your judgment. Know what the key things you want to get out of that practice are. Anything else above and beyond that, that's gravy. But you're in charge of positioning yourself as best you can with the clog of boats and the different varieties to get the key things out of that practice that you can. And you can do it. Just keep your head on a swivel. As you finally get through the course, there's one place that I have on my must do list and that is I really like to psychologically prepare and have my crew go through the last 30 strokes of the course at full pressure as if it's race day itself. I think psychologically that gives everyone a boost no matter what kind of experience you've had earlier in the practice day.  This is: I'm going to own this part of the race. This is how we're going to execute on race day - coming across strong and long and fast at the finish. So again, I will position my boat even if I've had to just slow way down in order to give myself that last straightaway and I do not have to worry about anything in front of me and we just bring it home. 


BREANA: I like to do that, too. It really puts a nice little cap on that practice row … whatever happened beforehand. It's a really solid way to end for you and your crew. I think it's also a great opportunity to test out your sense of how many strokes your boat has to the finish line if you want to make a call like that on race day and you want to feel a little more confident about it. Bring your boat up to race pace, gauge whatever marker you might be looking for, say to yourself or say out loud to your crew, “This is our last 20 strokes”. See if it's 20. See if it's more or less, especially if you're in a crew that you haven't been with before or you have never been on this course with your crew and you don't know what the wind and the current are like. Whatever it is, it's always kind of a nice little check for yourself if you're hoping to make that kind of call on race day. 


ANNE: And then you're across the finish line and what happens? Boom - another clog of boats. But that's more traditional in terms of our experience with the end of a race. There's often that clog of, you know, collapsed rowers and all these exhausted people. And here again, you're going to have boats of all different sizes up there with you and then people screaming behind you coming across the finish line as you just did. But prepare yourself mentally for the clog of boats. There may or may not be an official up there who will direct you about how far upstream you have to go before you take a turn to port. And then you will come along the Boston side and find the dock number -  the correct dock number - from which you launch because that's where you'll want to land unless you made another arrangement. 


BREANA: After you've gotten your boat back where it's supposed to be, you've tied it down for the night, you are ready for the next day - here you can congratulate yourself. You are a veteran now of the Head of the Charles Practice Day. 


ANNE: Yay, and that is something. 


BREANA: So if your row went according to plan, congratulations. If you stayed above the fray of the mayhem and you were able to manage that well and you got to do everything that you set out to do, congratulations. That is fantastic. What an amazing outcome. But if it didn't all go according to plan, don't dwell on it. 


ANNE: That's right, Breana. It is not necessarily reflective of how things are going to go on race day. In fact, the reason we're having this conversation is because it is very different than race day. So if things went great, as Breana said, yay. You know - rinse and repeat - except faster on race day. But you've done the course, right? Race day is a new day. Don't be rattled by a bad, so-called bad practice day. It happens. You know now that that's more the norm than the exception. So stay confident. Just understand that its day. Race day is different and it really, truly is. 


BREANA: I generally find that race day at the Head of the Charles - while of course it brings its own unique stressors - is actually generally a bit smoother than that practice day. 


ANNE: Breana, even as we're talking about this in the abstract, the level of excitement I feel and anticipation is tremendous. It is such a special event. 


BREANA: This regatta is really close to both of our hearts. And if you're going to be attending as a coxswain, we know you'll prepare. And we urge you to prepare for practice day in the same way that you'll prepare for race day. And when you do that, everybody will benefit. 


ANNE: That's because you are ready. You have your expectations in line with whatever you experience. And we know that the ultimate goal really is for you and your crew to go into the race day feeling as prepared and confident as possible. Have a great practice day and even better race. 


BREANA: Anne and I thank you for your time. We share lots of additional coxing tips via our podcast, which you can find at


ANNE: And if you found this helpful, please visit us there.

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