California State University, Long Beach

Varsity Men’s Last Race of Fall Season Ends with a Bang, Literally

Friday, 21. November 2014

Photo by Ariana Gastelum

Photo by Ariana Gastelum

At last weekend’s regatta, Head of the Harbor, the varsity men’s race experienced a series of unfortunate events including a broken footplate and a seat popping off the tracks. Coach Robert Edwards immediately investigated what happened after the race and discussed it with his rowers, motivating them to redeem themselves in the spring.

 

By Brad McCormick

Varsity Rower

I love being in a boat. I love when we’re on the water during a race, the focus in the boat and the competition when you can see the boats around you. However, the Head of the Harbor race at the Port of LA last weekend proved to be quite the opposite, unfortunately. The race, which is 5000 meters long, proved to be challenging for the men’s varsity boat because of a multitude of incidents. Not even 500 meters into the race, the support boards underneath the shoes of my footplate snapped in half. This means that for the remaining 4500 meters of the race the “drive” of my stroke compared to jumping off a trampoline…

Then, as we approached the bridge on the course, the seat of my teammate in bow came off the track, causing him to attempt to put the seat back on for the last 100 meters. It’s frustrating having these things happen, feeling that ineffective, and seeing the boats around you just walk away.The only thing I could truly focus on at this point was staying in time with the guys sitting stroke pair, using just my arms and body to get the strongest stroke I could produce even through the lack of support in my feet, which led to distracting leg cramps. If I learned anything from this race, it’s that rowing truly is a mental sport.

The whole time I was racing, I was so frustrated that these things were happening, yet I pushed through the pain and dissatisfaction anyway. I realized later though, that in reality, these things were events that I couldn’t control and that there is an importance in keeping boats in good shape, making sure that all the boat parts are in racing condition. Altogether, what I took away from this race is that although these incidents suck, they happen. And even though there will be these frustrations, there isn’t anything that will deter my love for being in a boat. We will only go up from here.

A Coxswain’s Perspective

Saturday, 15. November 2014

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Photo provided by Stefano Balbusso

Coxswain Sarah Dresser began rowing in Spring 2014, and switched to coxing this Fall. This was her first race as a varsity coxswain as well as her first 5,000-meter race.

 

By Sarah Dresser

Varsity Coxswain

Every morning, I wake up (or rather, get pulled out of bed by my roommate) and put on a sweatshirt. And then another. And maybe another. This is because I am a coxswain and get to sit in the cold while everyone else is sweating away.

While it might seem from the outside that I just sit in the boat, steering and shouting, it is actually a much greater performance than many realize.

For those who do not know me, I am hardly a person who is pushy, demanding, or controlling; I am actually rather quiet, preferring to be in small groups and in relaxed settings. However, this changes as soon as I call, “hands on,” signifying to my rowers that it is time for business, a hard day’s practice. I command and direct those dedicated people to make them stronger, to make them faster, and to make them win.

This confidence to command does not come naturally to most people. It was perhaps my hardest challenge as a new coxswain. Although I had rowed for a semester before becoming a coxswain, it was an uncomfortable transition from bow seat to ninth seat Being the one person responsible for an entire boat’s welfare, being the one person under a microscope and having your voice projected through a speaker system for each and every word to be heard is extremely daunting. It is easy to act meek under these circumstances. But to my rowers, that is completely unacceptable.

This is a coxswain’s “performance,” the attitude and behaviors that build the rowers’ connection to the boat.

A coxswain chooses their words carefully, aimed at channeling the rowers’ energy into the same goal. To do this, I must be confident in myself and my acquired skills in order to push them past their perceived limits and bring them closer as a team.

The best reward as a coxswain is not hearing your own praises from fans, coaches, or teammates; it is hearing your rowers say they’ve never had a better race. When my boat finishes a race, and every rower feels they’ve done their best, I beam with happiness at their success and thank them for the hard work they put in each and every day. I work just as hard for them because I know that the better I perform in the coxswain seat, the harder they will push themselves to be competitive against other teams and against themselves.

With the team’s determination and drive for success, I have no doubt that together, Long Beach State Rowing is prepared to have their best season yet.

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Photo provided by Stefano Balbusso

Lessons Learned on the Race Course

Thursday, 6. November 2014

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Photo provided by Sydney Abad

Women’s novice eights raced against each other in a couple of the short sprints at last weekend’s regatta.

 

By Sydney Fulgham

Novice Rower

The week before Sacramento, everyone was so hyped up. I remember thinking to myself that this race was going to be one that I remembered forever.

Being up at 4am that morning and traveling on the bus with all the girls was so fun but a long and mentally taxing day. I remember getting there around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and having to immediately unload all of our equipment and start to rig up the boats.

Even practicing the race course that day I was a bundle of nerves anticipating the following day. That night we had a boat meeting and discussed our strategies for the upcoming day. All I could focus on was Coach Smitty’s calmness and tried to channel it towards me because I was a wreck.

We got good sleep, (it was a relief not waking up at 4:50am) and headed towards the race course as the rain began to come down. As soon as we got onto the water I knew there was no turning back; I had a commitment to my boat and was going to push my hardest for the girls in my boat. I remember getting to the starting line was a bit hectic — trying to find the other boats that we were numerically before or after and trying to maneuver around other idle boats that got to the start early for their race.

Before I knew it, the race had begun, and I experienced a shot of adrenaline I had only experienced a few times before. The race was exhilarating and surprisingly fast. I don’t know if it was because the rain had started pouring on us, or if it was because I was with such amazing teammates, that I felt like I was invincible in the boat that day. We finished fourth, only 4 seconds behind third place, and I was feeling extremely happy about it.

In comparison to the Sacramento head race to the Naples Island Pancake regatta, I definitely realized where I can improve. The first difference was I was racing in a four that I had only rowed in once before our race, which made me feel uncomfortable compared to my bow seat in my eight boat.

Another thing was I seemed more distracted and unfocused when we raced on our home grounds. During the race I caught myself looking outside of the boat at other shells instead of the girls back in front of me. I knew we were much slower than the other girls even as we did our warm-up course, but that didn’t deter me from giving my best that race.

The race in Sac was a 5k compared to our 4.4k in Long Beach. The 4 made feel more tired and I felt as if I was exerting much more energy trying to pull the four than the eight. Coming down the final 2k was extremely hard for me knowing that my friends and family were there to see me race. I rowed that straight away every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for almost three months now and for some reason it felt like I was pulling a brick behind me. The girls in my boat worked hard but I knew we could have pushed together as a group harder those last 2000 meters.

Knowing this now I realize how important it is to keep my focus in the boat and be 100% mentally in tune with the other girls in my boat. Needless to say both of these head races proved to be valuable learning lessons on determination, focus, and mental/physical stability inside and outside of the boat.

 

Check out the start of one of the novice women’s sprints!

Provided by Sydney Santana

Novice Eight at Naples

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Photo provided by Frances Espinoza