Annual Inadvertent Flip Test: Combat Landing Edition.

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Yup. That’s the bottom of a boat. A boat that I normally row.

so… how was your Sunday?

For the record, it really wasn’t my fault.

Sunday, I was going up the marina at a good clip, about 80% pressure so a 2.04, 2.05 at a 27,28, doing what I should be doing.

All of a sudden, one minute I was at the catch, the next I was rolling sideways into the water.
(which despite what people think about California, is no small amount of cold in February)

No, I did not hit a buoy, thank you very much.

It seems that a coach from Neighbor!JuniorTeam was bowing a 2x with a high school rower, decided it was time to go in, turned around to go horizontally across the traffic pattern to head back up to their boathouse, & somehow completely missed the sight of me alone in the middle of a deserted marina going full tilt up along the approved traffic pattern.

As such, N!JT Coach started to paddle across. The result? A great moment in boat repair history wherein I came straight up and, due to my momentum, over their bow hull.

I said to Salter afterwards, “Thank god I was at the catch when it happened & my bow ball was out of the water — if I’d been at the finish, I’d have hit straight on & we’d probably be talking about replacing the back end of the boat.”

In terms of my day, I was on the 6th of 10 intervals, so I was literally smack dab in the middle of my workout when I got thrown into the water mid-stroke.

To her credit, N!JT Coach totally took responsibility for what happened, which was nice. Unfortunately, that still left me bobbing up & down in the middle of the marina with a single that might or might not be leaking, which was… not nice.

This was the point where my workout became a biathalon.

Second event: swimming.

I can get back in a MAAS or Peinert like most people breathe — I teach Sculling I, for me it’s not a big. However, the Fillipi is a far narrower shell. Add in that there was still a part of my brain looking around like a toddler woken up from a nap asking, “What… what happened? How did we get here?” I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to be able to manage a demonstration of my normally mad-ass flip test skills at that moment in time.

Thankfully, this all happened across from Lions!Boathouse – as another rowing boathouse, their dock is low enough for me to be able get in & out of my single, which the general marina boat slips are not.

So, I grabbed a rigger in one hand and started to awkwardly breaststroke my way over, tugging the single behind me. Thankfully, N!JT Coach realized that hey, this could be done better & offered to tow the boat over for me, which brings me to some very important lessons:

Things to know:
1. Bungee workouts do come in handy
2. Laziness can pay off.

Due to the fact that I travel between two boathouses and am too absent-minded to remember to bring things with me, I will often just buy duplicates & leave them in the appropriate places.
(For instance, I have three yoga mats. We can go over that another time.)

That day, my saving grace appeared in the form of the bungee that I’d left looped around the speedcoach crossbar. We were able to use that to attach my shell to their 2x and N!JT Coach & her rower towed the single over while I aquatically booked it over to the Lions!Boathouse dock, valiantly attempting to avoid swallowing marina water along the way.

Thankfully there was no one at Lions!Boathouse for me to have to explain why I was shivering my arse off on their dock as N!JT Coach brought the single most of the way, and some helpful guys in a motorboat nudged it level with the dock. Once that mischief was managed, I was able to get back in and row the 1000m or so across the marina & back to Bear!Boathouse, where Salter was unloading one of her 8+s. It would seem one crew was awesome enough to have broken a backstay and thus had earned a land workout while Salter finished on water with the lineup that hadn’t screwed their hardware.

Well okay then – I guess it was just that kind of a Sunday.

I fished out my sopping wet longsleeve (which thankfully had been under the back of my footplates & thus hadn’t floated away), threw it on the dock with a rather definitive splat!, looked at the 10 junior rowers watching me and asked, “Well ladies, on a morning like this, there’s only one thing left to decide — which one of us is going to tell Z that he has two broken boats?”


don’t let anyone fool you kids — being a grown-up sucks.

Z came in with his varsity boats about 15 minutes later — just enough time for us to get all the boats up and out of everyone’s way & for me to strip off my sodden clothes & jump into sweats.

For the record, the habit we rowers have of buying sweatpants so they ride really low on our hips over spandex is all well fine & good until the day that you are so cold & wet that you can’t even keep your underwear — try rockin’ that look commando in a public boathouse, & you’ll be cinching the drawstring a little tighter, lemme tell ya.

And so, still cold & hoping that my pants would stay up until I could get into the shower, I went to talk to Z. Poor bastard had just barely stepped out of his launch before I said, “Hiiiiii….”

After six years, Z knows that tone of voice from me means to move forward with caution. “Hi…”

Claris: So…how was your row?

Z: Good, actually. Really good.

Claris: Okay, ’cause we broke two boats.

Z: That’s not funny.

Claris: I know, which is why I asked about the row — I figured that way we should at least start from a happy place.

:insert Z glaring at me here:

In all honesty, I was every bit as annoyed about the situation as Z, but as I told him an hour later, “I had to joke about it on the dock because if I’d expressed my actual opinion with kids around, the profanity-laden diatribe probably would have resulted in you getting some parent phone calls.”

At which point he considered that & nodded in agreement at my chosen course of action.
You’re welcome.

In thinking about it again, this is probably why they reminded us to have redundancies.

The Bear!Boathouse single will be fixed — if nothing else, the head coach of the Neighbor!JuniorTeam is actually the rigger at Bear!Boathouse.
(see: rowing & social incestuousness)

Training-wise, it means I’ll be erging mornings at least this week because I don’t have the extra two hour commute time planned to go to Beach!Boathouse & row my own single until Saturday morning.

The downside being that this Sunday is a Bay Series (i.e. scrimmage head race) and I’m going to do that. It would be the first race since Head of the American this fall – between my arm & my knee, I hadn’t done any of the previous races in the series, and it would have been nice to be able to practice higher rates on the water before the actual, ya know… piece.
I would call it a race, but I’m still at the point where I’m doing a piece rather than rowing a race, so let’s just be straight up & call a spade a spade.

Physiologically, I have learned that when you get forcibly tossed out of a boat and into cold water in the middle of a workout, you’re fine for the first couple hours. Then you get home, sleep an afternoon away and spend the next few days pretty damn sore. As you might guess, I’m totally looking forward to doing 1500m at 2k pace in a few hours this afternoon. Good times.

But the most important lesson to come out of this?

Swag will totally save your sh*t.

Truth told, I flip about once a year – every so often, the numbers don’t fall in your favor & sh*t just happens. Spend enough time out on the water alone, you just accept the realities of life and work around it.

As such, my Nalgene has long included a carabiner around the loop so that I can clip it onto the Filippi’s speedcoach crossbar, a habit that I’ve had several rowers over the years remark on the strangeness of.

Rowers are big on swag – they’ll race for shirts, you get a uni for rowing for a team… rowers love their kits. It’s a whole thing, and it’s customary to swag people when they help you out.

I am swag-less.
I didn’t row in high school or college, my first boathouse doesn’t exist, the team I ran wasn’t around long enough to have our own shiznit, and I never got kitted out when I was coaching. Basically, I have my uniform tank for Beach!Boathouse & that’s it.

However, the last time I was down at SD, Hoff reached in a box in the office & went, “Hey, look – we have stuff now! You should have one!”
This may sound odd, but before Callaghan got there, SD was not a team that had extra stuff, so having things they can afford to give away really is a step up thanks to his work.

At the time, I laughed and thanked her for my first piece of free crew crap.

But as much as I might joke about how rowers love their shiznit, ya know why my stuff wasn’t at the bottom of the marina when I got back to the dock on Sunday?

…because of my one piece of rowing swag.

Good thinking there, Hoff. Good thinking indeed.

Music: Matt Wertz – Yesterday Morning (Somedays)Somedays - Matt Wertz

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