Both crews had a great race on Saturday but Yale, predictably, came out on top. They stayed pretty patient throughout the entire piece but lit it up at the end and never looked back. This is a good example of trusting your race plan, your teammates, and your coxswain to keep the focus on your boat and not let the crew get too rattled just because the other boat is trying to make a move.
If you caught my Instagram story yesterday then you saw the last 50m or so of this race from the beach where we were all watching from. Seeing both coxswains celebrate was so cool but man that feeling when you find out you came in second is the worst. Been there, experienced that. Still, that sprint by Harvard was fantastic and they should definitely be proud of that race. Congrats to Yale – can’t wait to see them throw down at IRAs.
(Alternatively … I was just talking to someone who said they thought the Harvard coxswain didn’t celebrate, rather the splash at the end was from him throwing his cox box in the water because it didn’t work during the race. “Big if true”, as they say. But seriously though, that sucks if that was the case but let that be a cautionary reminder to everybody – check your cox boxes before you launch and always have a spare on hand).
I haven’t jumped on the VR bandwagon yet but this is pretty cool. I like that you can look one direction and see how the coxswain is steering and then spin the camera around and watch the bladework.
I didn’t know who Alan Shealy was before I watched this video but the fact that it started with Patton’s Speech and ended with an interview with Harry Parker (that was shot just a few weeks before he died) got me interested in who he was and what his relationship with rowing was. After some Googling I found out that he’s a seven-time national team member, a two-time Olympian, and a three-time IRA national champion, in addition to being the stroke of the infamous “Rude and Smooth” crew in 1974 and 1975.
This paragraph from this article in Sports Illustrated made me laugh too. I can’t imagine anyone being able to get away with this nowadays…
“And the familiar cocky voice was that of Harvard’s Alan Shealy—brilliant at stroke, profane (though less so than last year) and Washington’s pet hate. To the forlorn Huskies, the posh trappings of Harvard rowing and the abrasive Shealy were symbols of decadence that had been fuel for the fire that possessed them. All week they had taken turns stoking the blaze.
And Shealy, enjoying himself, played them like a puppet master. Two days before the big race, during a coxswains’ race, he sat aboard a moving launch and manned Harvard’s funnelator, a powerful sling devised for launching water balloons, and one of them squarely hit a Husky cox.”
Or this (from this New York Times article)…
“The Huskies from Washington know Shealy well. In a dual regatta at Seattle last June, Shealy yelled out, “So long, Huskies,” as Harvard took command at 500 meters and rowed away.”
I’ve posted this full interview/story before (definitely watch it if you haven’t) but this clip with the coxswains is one of my favorite parts of it. The contrast between the Yale coxswain saying “We’re not gonna fucking go away, you Crimson bitches!” and the Harvard coxswain saying “Good, boys. Confident, comfortable … they’re already screaming their heads off over there.” really says something.
Previously: Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course || Steering around the turns || Race plans || My general race plan || Yaz Farooq’s coxswain clinic || Race plan “hacks” || The course in meters
You can’t talk about Weeks without talking about the Powerhouse Stretch or Lowell House because how you’re positioned relative to both will have a pretty big impact on how efficient your turn through the bridge is.
Related: HOCR: Steering around the turns
If you’re unfamiliar with Harvard’s campus, Lowell House is an undergrad dorm that is frequently used as an HOCR landmark due it’s tall steeple and bright blue dome that stands out above the tree line along the Cambridge shore. When someone says “point at the blue dome”, this is what they’re talking about. In the picture below they are just to the right of center.
As you come up the Powerhouse Stretch, ideally you’ll be coming through the center arches of the River St. and Western Ave. bridges. You can use the Cambridge arches (the ones on the far right) but the center arches are “standard procedure”. Going through the Powerhouse your point is going to be on the center of the center arches (again, ideally) but as you come out of Western the next big landmark you should be aiming for is Lowell. (There is a “mini”-landmark that you can check yourself on immediately out of the bridge and that’s your position relative to the buoy line – you want to be pointed at the outermost buoy as it begins to turn around Weeks. This should take half a second to spot-check before you shift your focus to Lowell.) If you’re in a good spot then you won’t really need to adjust your point much but if you come out pointing at something else (the bridge, the Cambridge shore, etc.) you’ll have to do a little steering to set yourself up for Weeks.
As you get closer to the bridge you’ll start to see the dome disappear behind the horizon. This is normal and is supposed to happen. Too many coxswains freak out because they lose sight of Lowell, which I don’t really get because … what else did you think was going to happen? As it goes behind the trees, your focus should shift to “the turning tree”. If you go to Yaz’s clinic then you’ll probably hear her talk about this.
Related: Yaz Farooq’s HOCR Clinic
The turning tree is in the photo up above (in the center of the picture on the very far right hand side), although because the leaves haven’t changed yet it still blends in with the shoreline. Usually by HOCR it’s the only tree along that whole stretch of shore that has changed colors (usually to a bright yellow) so it’s pretty easily identifiable. It’s not hard to pick out regardless of what color it is though just because it sticks out over the water a bit, as you can see in the picture.
As you’re rowing towards Lowell you want to stay straight until you get even with the tree and then begin your turn to port to go through Weeks. Some coxswains go when their bow is even with the tree, some go when they are even the tree. I’ve personally found my turns to be more effective when I wait until I’m even with the tree but I think a large part of that has to do with how well your boat responds to the rudder. The start of the turn is pretty easy (AKA it should all be done on the rudder) so you shouldn’t be using pressure from the rowers quite yet but if you wait too long to turn (like until you’re past the tree) then you’ll need to use a lot more pressure from your starboard side to get you through cleanly.
Below is some video I took during practice last week of our two coxswains going around the turn during our most recent “5k Friday” piece. Both did a pretty good job steering through here so this should give you a good idea of how the turn should look.