If you’ve ever had to fill out concussion forms for crew and thought “why am I filling this out, how could I possibly get a concussion?”, this video should give you an idea of one of the (very) few ways that you can sustain one. Keep an eye on the guy in the green shirt.
Coxswains, if something like this happens it’s on you. There’s no excuse for something like this. It’s not like massive trees just hang out below the surface and then suddenly think “hmm, time for some fresh air” before popping up out of the water. For as close as they were to it combined with the fact that it was sitting upright about 5ft above the water it should have been visible to the coxswain and she should have steered around it. “But there are eight tall guys in front of her, do you know how hard it is to see around them? They’re practically trees themselves!” Why yes, yes I do. That’s why when I’m coxing, regardless of who it is, I’m always peaking my head out of the boat every 15-20 strokes to see what’s up ahead of me.
Oh, and nonchalantly saying “sorry I didn’t see that” is probably one of the fastest ways to get eight people really pissed at you really fast. One or more of your rowers could have been hurt, not to mention the damage done to your boat (snapped oar and a broken rigger in this case) so a little bit more emotion, for lack of a better word, would do you some good. I have no idea how she reacted once they stopped but I know my knee-jerk reaction and probably that of the coxswains I know wouldn’t be “ho hum oops sorry”, it would be something along the lines of “oh SHIT are you guys OK??” Someone (I think my college coach but I don’t remember) said to us once that our reaction to hitting something should be proportional to the size of the object we hit.
Related: Do you have any advice for a novice coxswain who just crashed for the first time? It really shook me up and I know I won’t be able to get back in the boat for a few days (due to our walk-on coxswain rotation) but I want to get over it.
The days after it’s rained are the ones where you’ll most likely have to deal with excessive amounts of debris in the water. In Philly last summer we had a week of really bad thunderstorms that resulted in our coxswains having to deal with massive tree trunks and limbs (even house furniture, oddly enough) almost every day. It’s tough but manageable if you’re paying attention to your surroundings.
Another time you’ll have to deal with stuff like this is when the ice melts since it’ll most likely cause some flooding. If you’re really short like me (4’11”) and/or have trouble seeing around your rowers then it’s your responsibility to communicate with your bowman and have them turn around every so often to check if there’s something that could potentially impede your path. If there is then they need to YELL LOUDLY and you either need to immediately weigh enough and check it down or figure out where the object is so you can navigate around it.